Written by Handlebar volunteer Claire Jeantheau, Class of 2021
We got a lot of strange stares from other drivers on the road last Sunday—some probably concerned, others amused. This, of course, likely had to do with the insides of our white Dickinson bus. Our vehicle was filled with extra passengers: our bikes, which filled the aisle and pressed into our seats.
The reason for our bike labyrinth? The “Stylish Bike Tour”—an afternoon ride through Harrisburg to tour a new collection of murals painted by different artists around the city. As a first year, and on my first cycling-related trip through Dickinson, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect; my mental vision hadn’t included sharing a seat with my bike. With that initial surprise aside, it was a great trip, especially for meeting other Dickinsonians who love biking.
Before setting off, we hung out at the site of the first mural, painted on the wall of the local store Underground Bike Shop—a spiraled picture of grey-colored plastic bottles and trash twisting into flowers. According to a handout we received from the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority (LCSWMA), it shows the group’s efforts to transform waste into something more beautiful to be enjoyed by the whole community. We snagged some free ties to help us fit in a bit more with our fellow cyclists, who dressed appropriately for a “stylish” ride in tweed suits and dresses. After some group pictures, we rode off, filling nearly the whole street with bikes and ringing bells.
It was a casual ride, and we coasted up and down hills and through both main streets and backways. I loved how understanding everyone around us was as we occupied most of the street, though we were met with the occasional “What’s happening?!” yelled out from a car window. Between periods of riding, we stopped at the murals and learned more information about each one from a guide; they ranged from spray-painted flowers to art celebrating notable African-Americans who had stayed in historic Harrisburg. This ride marked my first time into the Capital as well, and I loved getting to see the variety of neighborhood buildings, restaurants, and bookstores while riding. We broke off from the larger group to take a detour at Little Amps, a coffeeshop with cool records to browse through and stickers to take. We returned to our bus after enjoying some coffee and reconstructed our bike maze inside before heading back to campus.
Visiting Harrisburg on bike was all-in-all an awesome experience, and it made me even more enthusiastic for the other activities that Dickinson’s biking initiatives have planned for the rest of the semester. I’ve already had several other first years, after seeing my social media, ask, “How did you get up to Harrisburg?” Hopefully, some of them will be inspired to come along for a future ride–and to grab some coffee afterwards.