Hoopla Hooper: Rita Kurniawan

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Rita's Portrait

Cycling for Life

Biking has become an addiction to me. Before I came to the U.S., biking had never been a part of my life. I was also originally reluctant to bike in the city due to the convoluted traffic. Born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia— a beautiful country if you didn’t live in the capital—I was accustomed to the unbearable traffic where, crossing the street was a form of “seppuku”— a ritualistic suicide undertaken by Japanese samurais.

It’s difficult to find a city in the U.S. where it’s not required to drive. I lived in Winter Park, Colorado for a short while, where I learned snowboarding and thankfully, never broke any bones. I found it was almost impossible to get around if you couldn’t drive or have anyone drive you, unless you could fly or teleport via a teleport machine.

Even though the scenery was breathtaking, I realized, I couldn’t stay in a place where going to a supermarket needed a tailored arrangement—it took at least five phone calls to make one trip possible.

Because I couldn’t drive, New York City became the most viable place for me to be. Sure I might get flashed — oh, the joy of genital exposure, sure I might smell urine or a foul stench that I couldn’t ignore or decipher — but New York’s transportation system was one of the finest in the country. I began to rely a lot on NYC’s trains and buses that I overlooked something that has always been my passion: biking. At first, like many, I was a bit nervous, but growing up in a third-world country did have its benefits.

I began to ride and, despite the city’s potholes, brain-challenged drivers and foul-mouthed citizens; I found NYC to be one the friendliest cities for cyclists.

My column will, hopefully, bring exposure of a cyclist’s life in NYC to novices, experts along with athletes and the city’s diverse community.