Sunday, April 05, 2009

My New Bike

As kids in a small, flat town, we relied on bicycles to get us where we wanted to go: to school, to the library, to piano lessons. My dad liked to tinker, and bikes were one of his special interests. He had a modest collection of unusual bikes: a tandem, a high-wheeler (in fact, two of them --- one with the big wheel in front and one with the big wheel in back), and a "chainless" bike that he rode for a long time. In addition to regular tricycles, we had an old-fashioned trike with a bench seat, pedals that went up and down, and a steering rod. The summer I was six, I learned to ride a two-wheeler on a small bike made from parts of tricycles. When I first tried my mom's bike, (riding on the pedals since I was too small to reach the seat), I discovered that steering a big bike was quite different, and I rode directly into a rose bush.

Anyway, throughout my childhood, I biked a lot, always on bikes Dad had made out of parts of other bikes. But after I left home, biking ceased to be a part of my life: I lived in a city, or had little kids, or lived in a hilly neighborhood. Then in 1974, there was a gasoline shortage, and I decided to take up biking again. I bought myself an upright, black, woman's Raleigh bicycle, my first new bike.

Since then, I've gone through periods when I biked frequently, followed by periods of a few years when I didn't bike at all. We have only one car, and this spring a situation arose where it would be convenient for me to bike. My dusty bike sat in the garage with a flat tire. I procrastinated, trying to convince myself that it would be quicker to fix the flat myself than to walk it to the bike shop. As is often the case, procrastination took a lot more time and energy that actually fixing the flat, which I accomplished in about 20 minutes. But in the process, I noticed that there was no tread on the tires and one tire had a hole though which the tube bulged. Time for new tubes and tires!

Once again my bike is in good shape and I'm enjoying riding. I've always locked my bike when I parked it, even though I thought since it was old-fashioned, no one would be interested in stealing it. But recently I've been stopped a couple of times while waiting at intersections by other (male) bikers who commented on my "cool" bike. One guy about my age asked, jokingly, didn't I think I needed a new bike. When I turned around to look at him, he was riding a bike of about the same vintage as mine. Another younger guy, riding a recumbent bike, commented that his dad used to have a bike like mine. Suddenly my "new bike" is desirably retro. I don't intend to trade it in; my new bike has become a classic old bike for a classy old lady.


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