Monday, April 21, 2008

When Spinning Your Wheels Gets You Further Than You Thought


With the wind in my hair, trees flashing by, inches from death by swerving cars, riding a bike is exhilarating. It feels like when you were 8 and rode your bike around the neighborhood before dinner. When I rode my bike then, I used to pretend to put on my blinker when turning corners. Fake driving was satisfying and watching my streamers splay out, it felt like I could go so far and back again.

Now when I go bike riding, my hair still whips around, temporarily blinding me. But now there must be more care taken, the close cars driving next to us warrant more steady steering. And as we admire people sipping their espressos outdoors or eating salad nicoise at tiny round sidewalk tables, visions of car doors being suddenly opened pop into my head. And I see myself being thrown off my shiny blue Peugeot and into the street, shoulder first (I will try to do it gracefully), small children will grip their mothers' hands with their mouths agape and point in sheer terror...

My helmet is not strapped on tight enough. I'm suddenly aware of how it wobbles around on my head. I should have known, I should have stopped by the store before this ride and bought a new helmet made of new plastic blends, this helmet having been manufactured with the obsolete plastics of 1984.

Well, if it were to happen and I should be hit by a car, I should try to have it be as dignified as possible. I unfurrow my brow, ease my clenched teeth, for the sake of those we pass dining al fresco. And instead of biking 10 blocks deep into the neighborhood before turning back for supper, this time we pass through three cities. By miscalculation we bike much further than the yogurt shop we had planned to bike to. The lactic acid builds up in my legs. I'm not aware of it until my legs feel as though they could very well fall off -- and what would I use to pedal my bike then? What happens when there is too much lactic acid build up? Will my legs explode? Will it be like when pigeons eat the rice thrown at weddings... I stop biking. We take a break.

After biking 10 more miles, we finally get back home and I am thoroughly impressed with the mobility a bike provides. In one day, and just by bike, we've picked up a dress slip, my 10th free yogurt courtesy of my frequent yogurt eater's card, headphones and the April issue of Vogue.

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