All I Wanna Do Is…, Day 114
Waiting with anticipation, I imagined how my very own bicycle (not borrowed from my older sister) might look and ride. It wouldn’t have the New Yorker sticker like my Becky’s bike that I learned how to ride when we lived in Ohio. That never made sense to me anyway. Pink, not red – another important distinction – and with a diagonally low bar, like a proper girl’s bike… No, my bike would not resemble my sister’s. This Christmas of 1986 proved one of the most memorable, as I joyfully received my present and rode it around the chilly winter neighborhood of Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
The following years would bring much of the same lone exploration as previous times in Ohio, but they also brought an increased freedom to visit new friends and great memories of getting intentionally lost with Dad in order to learn the neighborhood. One Independence Day, I even bedecked my blush-colored bike with sparkles and streamers to participate in the parade at our local swim club. I visited friends in neighboring developments and even towns on a couple of occasions, and although I don’t recall when exactly my zest for cycling ended, I never took frightfully long trips or entered any races either.
For years I have promised a return to the freedom of cycling without the need for gasoline to reach my destinations, ideally resulting in a healthier body and environment. Inspired again and again by my practically free Cannondale as a partial gift from my now longtime ex-fiancé, the bicycle garages in Amsterdam, and the amazing Riverside path along the Hudson with an entrance just a few blocks from my apartment, I still had yet to kindle my cyclist spirit. After months of writing, “Ride bike in the city” and “Ride the Riverside path to work” in lists of ideas for challenges for my blog, inspiration finally crept in at Bard.
While away, I brought my purple Cannondale to Bard College for Summerscape and the Music Festival. When her twelve-year-old tires popped and then blew, I met with Anneka Olson at the Bard College Bike Co-op to learn how to fix my own bike. Graciously and patiently showing me how to change my tire and true my wheels, Anneka gave me a little passion along with some confidence that I could learn about and maintain my own personal mode of green transportation. She also inspired my Cannondale’s new name, Dora, in memory of a bicycle of hers that had sadly disappeared.
The final nail in my inspirational coffin came from watching my friends Jennifer Gliere and Joseph Flaxman, both of whom not only rode bikes at Bard but also ride everywhere in the city, saving a great deal of money on transportation costs. So today, I left behind my ultra-lazy behavior of riding the subway to and from the Planet Fitness located twenty blocks from my apartment. Dora and I traveled with ease downhill to the gym this afternoon and somewhat painstakingly uphill back to my apartment after a full workout.
Throughout the process, I learned several things.
- Almost everyone looks douchey in a bike helmet. I am not exempt.
- I love having at least a rudimentary understanding of how to use my gears properly uphill.
- I have no idea how to lock up my bike quickly and safely without fear of her disappearance, and naming her Dora has not helped.
- One of these days in this city, some car door may open into my rapidly-moving self.
- I have no choice but to accept the fact that I have never trained for cycling and that this will exhaust me and take patience for some time.
- My ultimately rockin’ legs, butt, overall health and wallet will thank me if I don’t quit prematurely.
On the way to a triathlon, you ask? Perhaps eventually, since I know how to conquer the swimming and running training already, albeit somewhat slowly. For now, I will enjoy the early exhaustion that apparently comes from beginning such a new regiment of cycling around town and get some sleep for my newly tired limbs.