Posted by Cathy Hastie (Lifestyle Columnist) on November 4th, 2013 at 3:08 pm
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
Cathy Hastie is BikePortland's lifestyle columnist.
Gravel and grit from the street kicks up onto my legs. Rain and sweat drizzle between my shoulder blades. Grinding brakes pierce my ears as a semi-truck swooshes too close. Being out in traffic on my daily bike commute can wear down my senses. Day in and day out, you would think I’d complain about the harsh urban visuals as well.
But from my hunched-over posture on my Trek, the view is fascinating. Anyone who rides during the bike rush probably knows what I am talking about. What is perfectly aligned in my sights as the crowd of bikers swarms ahead of me, heading west up the Hawthorne bridge?
I’ll give you a hint – it ain’t the sunrise.
"After 20 years of riding my bike to work almost every day, I have seen a lot of butts."
How can one not take note?
Numerous pairs of butt cheeks sway and roll with the effort of cranking up the hill. Butts in jeans, butts in tights, butts in skirts, butts in sweats. Like a Dr. Seuss rhyme, there are red ones, blue ones, old ones and new ones. The motion of each derriere is unique. Some remain completely still while the legs piston up and down. Others move side to side with exertion as if the bike they ride were a bit too tall. Some butts sway like a dancer and others are stuck as if with glue to the saddle. There are all sizes and shapes. Like their owners, they are big and small, narrow and wide, pointy, round, puffy, hard, sinewy, and saggy.
After 20 years of riding my bike to work almost every day, I have seen a lot of butts. There is nothing else to focus on when riding in a pack or following one after the other like ants in a line. In a strange juxtaposition of normal societal rules, the fact is we all look at them. It’s almost required. Leaning forward as most riders do, we can’t help but display our back sides to all who follow. And following, we can’t help but focus in on the bullseye ahead of us – the place we are pedaling toward with fixed determination. I lock in on one butt after another as faster riders pass me by. Like a spinning ballerina picking a fixed point in space, I center in on the buns in front of me. It keeps my balance.
All this talk of rear ends could come across as somewhat creepy to people who don’t see what I see every day. Don’t worry, I am immune to the typical connotations associated with this part of the human body when I am hard at work getting to work. The booty in any other circumstances can grab the attention too, but when I'm on a bicycle, it’s just part of the scenery. Fit or flabby, grand or petite, it is simply the motor to our human-powered motion. Very useful indeed.
So don’t get bent out of shape. If you are a biker, I have seen your butt. And you have probably seen mine. Just pat yourself on the back (or further down if you feel so moved) and know that with every downstroke, you are improving the view, creating a tauter, shapelier Portland panorama.