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Two wheels can only go so far

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The summer before my freshman year, the idea of biking everywhere gave me butterflies — the good kind. Sun on my skin, no helmet on my head and, most important, no longer confined to the mundane paths of the same local parks that I had been biking through since the age of wearing Barbie knee-pads and matching plaid shorts. I used to lie awake at night,thinking about biking. It was a dream, truly. Well, a year and a half later, and I’m finding that two wheels just don’t satisfy me anymore. I need four.

I love driving. I’ve always loved driving. Even when sitting in rush hour traffic behind a seemingly endless line of red brake lights, I still love driving. As such, I don’t know what I was thinking when I turned down my mom’s offer to bring my car to campus for sophomore year. Actually, I know exactly what I was thinking. I was still under the deception of the energetic backwards-walkers who seemed to know it all because they were where I wanted to be — campus tour guides.

I remember that on every college tour I went on before committing to Stanford, each tour guide shared one variation or another of the same old adage, pawned off as “top-secret” advice:

“You want to know someone with a car, but you don’t ever want to be the person who has the car.”

It was the sort of information that many of them would share in a faux hushed tone — I say “faux” because their microphones would just amplify their whispers anyways — giving a naive younger-me the impression that she was getting an insider scoop juicer than what tabloids provide. I felt enlightened. Yes, I loved driving even back then, but would I love being asked for rides? Or having all heads turn to me when someone asked who’d be driving? Or having to pay California gas prices? I figured that I wouldn’t. Now, the haze clouding my thoughts has removed itself, and I have come to the realization that they were wrong. The tour guides were wrong.

I’m tired of having to bike to Town and Country, lugging my purchases back to campus in a large bag precariously held up on my shoulder. I’m tired of having to account for the time my Uber driver may take to get to me while trying to figure out what time I should leave to go somewhere. I’m tired of being limited to only grabbing food off-campus when one of my car-wielding friends wants to as well. Buying gas may be a pain, but those Uber surge charges can be brutal. Twenty dollars for a five-minute ride? Is that a joke? Plus, being the one driving means that you never have to take the middle seat in the back of a full car. And I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t enjoy at least having the option to drive to the far parts of campus on particularly windy and/or rainy and/or lazy winter nights.

These days, the closest I can get to the thrill of the open road is navigating the obstacle-filled tracks of Mario Kart. Sadly, continuously falling off Rainbow Road, crashing into walls and coming in 11th place every time doesn’t exactly scratch my itch.

When junior year rolls around, if my mom asks me whether or not I’d like to bring my car to school this time, I’ll probably have said “yes” before she even finishes asking the question. If you find yourself faced with the same decision, don’t make the mistake I did. Everyone gets tired of biking eventually.

 

Contact Kassidy Kelley at kckelley ‘at’ stanford.edu.