I finally got around to bike riding the other day. Mostly because… I finally bought a bike. I’ve been renting one of those 20,000 Invisibikes (you know, the ones Purolator delivers if 9:00 am works?)
See, there’s this Lance Armstrong-type fanatical nag that lives with me who wanted, get this, to go riding…together even! Man, just like the French, and the Italians and the Germans…a regular Tour de France effort. I said to him, "Go already, spin your wheels – I’m going to drive a few blocks to the closest video store, then head to the grocery store for a litre of milk, and I think I’m low on gas in the van – did you know the price came down a little? One tankful is only one arm this week. Since I have two, I’ll just make a trip and fill it up.” Standing there, looking at me with his aerodynamically correct spandex riding gear on, and that adorable (completely adjustable) pointy helmet, holding an industrial-strength Survivor Island expandable backpack, all I could hear was Sheryl Crow’s, "The First Cut is the Deepest.”
The bike store let me kick the tires. I smelled the new leather seats…alright, I didn’t do that. But I did ask the extremely knowledgeable salesperson how many miles to the gallon I could expect. He just fit my bike up with a goodly-sized water bottle. (I think you should always go to your local bike store – they ride, they know, they fix, they guide and they have everything ever invented for a bike, including well-padded shorts. Very important!)
So while ‘Lance’ was yakking to the people in the store about all the off-road trails we could go on and how easy and economical it would be to ride to work and therefore across Canada, I slipped out the back and saddled up in the lane. In my day, there was only stop and go, or Stomp and Whoa, if you want to get technical about it. This little beauty requires a high degree of RFM, or Rapid Finger Manipulations to click your way through three gear sprockets with eight chain combinations. What if you need a Degree in Video Gaming before the bike will start?
I lifted my leg, I mean over the bar, and I was off. Just like riding a bike…The wind whistled past my ears and through my helmet, and while I was wheeling around, feeling wild and free, I dropped 25 years off and left them behind me. Talk about Light Rapid Transit!
So I’m going green and recapturing my youth. I took home my shiny, new two-wheeler with its sexy black and yellow chassis; it’s a real honey of a hardbody. Even my teenage son noticed, "Hey, Mom, nice wheels. Not girly colours.” Yeah, and it’s all-wheel drive with a sunroof too…And there are added features to my bike: sometimes when I’m really flying, I feel like I can hear music playing, (I think it’s the Flight of the Bumblebee), but it could just be fresh air and happiness singing in my bloodstream.
I love whizzing around the suburban neighbourhood now, ‘running’ errands. I do my banking at the ‘ride-through’ and carry small groceries (and movies) on my back. I’ve learned which roads are safe and which roads I should write to the local government about making safer for cyclists and pedestrians. (We need room to wave at each other.) I’ve conquered Bike Butt and I’m working on Helmet Head. I’m exercising – my body and my choices – for cleaner air and less fossil fuel consumption. I still have to transport people and large loads sometimes (which are often one and the same thing…), so cars are okay, unless you’re breathing from their tailpipes, but bikes are better when it’s just me.
And when I’m on mine, nothing can stop me, except for the brakes, and one of those darn 24 gears that I always click into before I realize that I wanted to go up the hill. Road rage is so much more benign when you’re out of breath…