Like most young, single professionals with just enough money to spare if you’re okay with eating eggs and canned sardines every day, I’ve fallen pretty hard for travel. That itch to fly to faraway places, to breathe new air, and be herded along to world heritage sites with crowds of Chinese tourists. It seems to be a common thing for most half-interesting people; perhaps the product of unconsciously wanting to escape the dry, fluorescent lighting of corporate environments that are the just the right touch of too warm or too cold to keep you consciously uncomfortable. It’s such an easy expense to justify – the opportunity to explore a new culture and locale! The self-exploratory experiences! The beautiful things to see and people to meet! – that no one ever questions whether you simply want to escape the reality of your current, very real life. Instead people tend to express their approval at travel plans, bestowing you extra points on the life scale if “travel” also includes “helping the less fortunate” or “spectating something humanitarian.”
I would be lying if I said I didn’t love the romance of the idea of eternal [albeit, underfunded] travel. But I would also be lying if I said the idea of living out of a suitcase for months on end was appealing or otherwise seemed tolerable. Instability and unpredictability are concepts I am familiar with, but only as facets of my personality. I still struggle with situations in which they manifest outside my psyche. I’ve gotten better [I keep an umbrella at work, now], but it’s been a process.
And yet I arrived at JFK airport last month with a suitcase and my bike, throwing caution to the wind and TSA the opportunity to fuck my paint job, again.
When good things happen to me when I least expect them to, I’m inclined to believe that tempting fate and acting like an asshole will actually yield results. Come at me, TSA, I mentally taunted while I checked in my bike, damage my paint again so I can kill you. My mouth was frothing in premature anger at the thought. But thousands of miles, a taxi ride and four flights of stairs later, I unzipped my Biknd Helium case to find my bike, safe, sound, and unscathed.
True, the condition of my bike is more likely due to the bike case than anything involving my questionably aggressive attitude towards airlines and transport security. An expense I managed to make room for a few weeks before I left for New York, the Biknd Helium case has turned into that friend who insists, “just one shot, I’m buying, anything you want,” and suddenly you’re stumbling around Harvard Square so drunk you don’t even know how drunk you are until you get pulled over by the cops on the way home. It whispers that you should never be without a bike, wherever you go, and since it holds two sets of wheels, a wheelset purchase would be optimal, or, more accurately, necessary. In other words, it’s an enabler.
But it’s also like the kind of enabling friend who has your back, will make sure you’re always safe, and stays surprisingly mobile when fully loaded. It took me 25 minutes to pack up my bike the first time, including the time spent Youtubing videos of how to take off my rear derailleur, and it rolled smoothly from my apartment to the taxi to check-in. The fork locks into the frame, the bottom bracket sits on a foam cushion, and the inflatable bags on each side provide substantial cushioning. There’s no need to bubble wrap your frame or swaddle it in your sweaters. You’ll take some risks, sure [doesn't fun always include that, though?] but you’ll know that, barring some disaster, you and your bike will get to Paris, Marrakesh, Tokyo, New York City or wherever in one, pristine piece.
My Biknd Helium case is currently sitting quietly in a corner of my apartment, waiting to be pulled out, packed up, and rolled through an airport headed for exotic or familiar destinations. But like any true and good enabler, it goads me to do random searches for flights to all the places I’ve wanted to go and isn’t beneath judging me for wanting to save up/stop my bank account from bleeding to death for a little while longer.
“Come onnnnn,” it pretends to plead, “let’s just gooooo. There are places to see, mountain passes to climb, cafes to ride to! The travel constipation will be totally worth it!”
And I think, as my hair trigger finger scrolls through flights to Budapest, Istanbul, and Reykjavik, yeah, yeah, you’re right. It totally would.