Out of commission

The bike is out of commission for a while. Last week I was riding it and the brakes started locking up. I didn’t realize that was the problem at the time though. I was in the middle of traffic when it became more and more difficult to pedal. I went from a nice cruising speed to barely crawling by, putting all of my leg strength in and not going far at all.

Finally I came to a dead stop, got off and pretended to know what I was looking for when I gave it a once-over. Making it worse, there was a man with face tattoos on the corner watching the whole time, giving me the what’s-this-girl’s-problem look. And I was wearing my helmet, so I already felt ridiculous. I pushed it the rest of the way home, mustering up what was left of my dignity and giving the face-tattoo man a nod and a “how’re you?” as I walked by.

I think it’s time to take the $20 bike in for a $30 tune-up.

More thoughts on bikes

“Hand signals? What hand signals?!” – girl about to crash on her bike

I recently started riding a bicycle again, after taking about 16 years off between the ages of 12 and 28. My renewed interest was spurred by the deal I got at a summer yard sale last year – $20 for a used bike. Not bad condition either.

I like not having to search and pay for a parking spot. I also like not having to use any fuel besides the strength in my legs.

Riding on a bike through mid-day traffic takes bravery, as I recently discovered when I set out toward my favorite coffee spot one Monday morning. You’re essentially sitting on a tiny piece of metal with a seat and wheels on roads with cars, semi tractor trailers, Mack trucks and buses. It’s kind of like being a house cat in a land of lions and tigers. One wrong move and the orange tabby is pitted against the cheetah. And did I mention the cheetah has claws?

And what do you have for protection as you go into battle? A piece of plastic and foam strapped to your head. To guard your brains in the event of an unfortunate collision with a pickup truck. (And bike helmets mess up your hair and look flattering on absolutely no one. See previous post on helmet attractiveness and saving lives).

Arms, legs and torso – you’re on your own; try not to get run over. I have, so far, escaped collisions and injuries.

Here is where I would offer advice to new bicyclists, if I were a bike expert, or if I had more experience. But I’m not and I don’t. I’m open to hearing your advice, though.

Let’s all try to stay upright and avoid buses.

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