I like riding my bike, because I like to dress up in the outfit. Anybody looks tougher in black: black biking pants, black leather mesh gloves, black sunglasses. My bike is silver, because I wasn’t thinking ahead.
I used to have a purple Sting-Ray. It had one speed. Riding it was easy. You got on, and you went. My second bike was a yellow two-speed. You shifted by kicking the pedals backward. The low gear was always too low, the high gear too high, and I always left a little skid mark when I shifted. When it was stolen, I only pretended to cry.
Nobody wore helmets then. Maybe we should have. You can tell some of us suffered brain damage. Just look at Glenn Beck. We didn’t wear gloves or bike pants or even sunglasses. When I see little kids wearing bike helmets today, I think, “Good for you,” and then I think, “pussy.”
Now I don’t bike unless I have enough time. The schedule requires this prep:
Pump up the tires
Strap on my helmet
Take off my helmet
Take my glasses out of helmet
Strap helmet on again
Put my sunglasses on
Take my helmet back off
Find the missing lens
Helmet on, sunglasses on
Attach keys to bike bag—bike pants don’t have pockets
Carry my bike up from the basement
Balance it precariously on the steps while I unhook the keys from the bag to unlock the door
Clip keys back into bike bag
Saddle up and lock my feet in the pedal clips
Take feet back out; forgot my water bottle!
Door’s locked, go back to bike, get door keys
Get water bottle
Stop by the mirror and flex
This can go on for a while.
This week I planned an Epic Ride, because I had the time. I didn’t really feel like it, but after seeing pictures of myself at a recent public event I figured I needed the exercise more than what I really wanted, a margarita. I dutifully went through Steps 1-19 as described above, with one addition: it was late on an overcast day, yet I wanted to wear sunglasses to protect my eyes from bugs. I have biking glasses with interchangable lenses. One set is amber to improve contrast and visibility at just such an hour. I popped out the existing lenses with my thumb, then discovered these weren’t my biking glasses.
Eventually I was on my way. There is a wonderful long hill as I turn off my street, and as I approached warp speed my skin began to smart from a peppering of thousands of teeny gnats that filled the air. Where did they all come from? They were so thick I couldn’t catch a breath, couldn’t see straight, didn’t want to open my mouth to cry out. This sucks. I got all tough looking for nothing.
Bike pants are made of stretchy Lycra, with elastic in the waist and around both thighs, and a little cushy pillow sewn into the butt that is attractive only to baboons. The elastic waistband in my bike pants chose this moment to give up. I admit, a lot has been asked of it lately. When the waist elastic fails, the rest of the stretchy material pulls down.
The little butt pad no longer looked like a baboon’s ass. Sagging, it now looked like a full diaper. Instead of protecting my bum when I sat, it was now bunched up under my nethers, about as comfortable as sitting on a softball.
I no longer felt very badass. Usually I can glare wayward cars into submission, but more of them than usual were rolling through stop signs at me. Instead of giving me plenty of clearance, more slow pedestrians were amblilng in front of me, forcing me to weave around them. I felt like I was at Wal-Mart.
The Epic Ride was edited down to A Quick Spin. I putted around the neighborhood until I had ridden for more time than I had spent setting up, which is a personal rule. As I took the last turn, I passed a pretty young pedestrian who lowered her eyes the way a person does when encountering someone intimidating. I still got it, I thought.
I saw why too, when I spied my reflection in the window: two thousand squashed bug eyeballs ogling back at me.
Where are my keys?