The Lower Rio Grande Valley is the southern most area in Texas, near the border of Mexico and the United States. The heat here is intense and continues for most of the year. Our first summer has arrived, and the temperatures are in the high 90s. Yesterday’s heat index was 105˚, and it is going to get worse. As Valley residents, climate awareness isn’t a hot topic, and with the current president, we are more worried about ICE raids and border crossings.
I then present myself with the question: what type of cycling culture has the River Valley fostered? In my previous blog post, State of the Ride: The Cycling Boon, I dabbled in the idea of how our cycling events started. I then must continue to express myself and admit: Our current cycling scene is absolutely boring! It’s one sided and only focuses on fitness and physique, and respectfully so. As an area of high obesity rates, its a great change. But will this new subculture continue to evolve?
Between 12 and 7pm our lives are kept indoors, the intense heat forces many to take shelter and restricts our outdoor activities. It would be impossible to keep a routine as a full-time bicycle commuter. It would be considered suicide! The commuter lifestyle is rare amoungst the cycling subculture in the LRGV. Full-time cyclist are people who take pride in being car-less. They bolster tattoos and are expressively dressed. The counterculture of young Austin Socialites is a great representation of the lifestyle. As of late there is a small collection in Brownsville and began the BBB to help children claim discarded bicycles.
Coincidently, bike packing or adventure cycling, would also be subjected to the same heat index restrictions. Cycling for tens of miles to reach a campsite for an overnighter is inconceivable to Valley residents. Texas as a whole is a hard land to explore, and the Valley doesn’t have the right environment to sustain the lifestyle. An Adventure Cyclist or a Bike Packer, is an odd style when first observed. They can be rugged and weather worn, or prim and proper. World wide they are a very strong subset of cyclist, and have only a handful of seeds growing here. Fostering the style would take years of care and diligence.
Downhill Mountain Bikers? No hills, so why bother? Cargo bikes, tall bikes, and frakenbikes are all a product of full-time commuters. Without them, the evolution has absolutely no foothold. As it stands, the dominant lifestyle of the cycling subculture in the LRGV are fitness buffs. They have made a great impact on the local politics and encourage officials to include bicycles in city planning. However, the social diversity of cycling has a long way to go. I doubt it will change anytime soon.