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The Joy of Having a Bike on Campus

March 12, 2021
Richard Ma

When I first arrived on campus, I hadn’t ridden a bike in over two years. They say you never forget how, but I was still nervous when I first got on one again. It was my friend’s bike, and one day after class we were walking back to Forbes College, when I asked to give it a spin. And that’s when my love affair with biking on campus began. 

Princeton is both a dream and a nightmare for bikes. Forbes is “down-campus,” and the way to class is often uphill. In the mornings when I rush to class, I never bike from my room to McCosh on an empty stomach. But the burn is worth it, because the downhill route back is always a blast. I love biking through Prospect Garden and picking up speed down the main road past Whitman College. In the afternoons, the wind is a joy on your face, and at night the pathways are illuminated by golden lamps. Either way, it’s peaceful and cathartic. I found myself purposefully taking longer routes with the bike while exploring all the gentle slopes around campus. I would even bike for study breaks. After class, I would bike extra routes around campus before getting to my next destination.

Richard on a bike in a black shirt that says Princeton in orange

But biking isn’t without its hazards. As much as I extol the pleasures of biking across campus, one must also be careful. My aforementioned friend ran into a pole and flipped right over the front of his bike, his hands glued to the handles the whole time - like a minute hand being wound on a clock. Fortunately, he was only dazed, so we all laughed about it.

After that, he let me have the bike. 

It’s a wonderful bike, with a big cushiony seat. And if you’re safe, riding it is one of the underappreciated joys of campus. With the wind in my face, gliding gently across Princeton, I’m always so keenly aware of where I am, and I smile.