Monday, August 1, 2011

Bikes and Driving

I’ve never been in a biking accident. I know, I know, with all the stories I have to tell about crazy (but pathetic) injuries, you’d think I’d have fallen down a hill only to have my bike land on top of me, right?

No, I’ve not had any real problems with bikes except that I couldn’t keep up with everyone because I was too chubby. A few months ago, I was driving around my neighborhood and I saw a group of young boys biking about. About a block behind them was their chubby friend. They’d stop and wait for him occasionally, but his face sure was bright red. I’m not sure whether it was from exhaustion or embarrassment, but I’m willing to bet both. I could relate.

I’ve actually come to love biking. But only in calm, quiet areas where there aren’t cars or any other real danger, for that matter. Recently when I went to my quiet hometown to spend some time with my family, I arrived just in time for a group bike ride. Because I’d just pulled into the drive about 3 minutes earlier, I decided I’d take my little dog along for the ride. He’d been cooped up in the car for hours, and I didn’t want to just shove him into the house.

I took him on a test run first. I plopped him into the front basket and biked past about three houses. And I decided I didn’t quite feel comfortable with him in there, because he could jump out.

Turned out, he couldn’t have possibly jumped out.

His poor nails were jammed so tightly into the mesh basket that he couldn’t move at all. I couldn’t move him either, and the more I tried to gently pull him out, the more he bled. ALL over the place. Finally, my dad helped shove his nails out of the holes one by one, while I held his shaking little body up to take the weight off his paws. I think I was more panicked than he was.

He was fine, but I decided taking him on biking adventures probably wasn’t the best idea. Which was fine, because I haven’t owned a bike since 2006 anyway.

My theory is that I’m a horrible driver. Horrible. I get in accidents about once a year, and surely there will eventually be a whole blog post just about that.

But I figure since I’m SO INCREDIBLY BAD at driving that I can’t possibly be much better at biking – spatial perception and all that. And at least in driving you have a bunch of steel and airbags to protect the other vehicles (or walls, as it may be) from crashing into your vital organs.

And with biking, well, I suppose if you’re OK with looking super dorky you have a helmet. Possibly. And otherwise, you’ve got nothing. Nothing! You’re out on the streets with your whole body exposed and dumb L.A. drivers and you’ve got nothing but one lousy helmet to protect you from sudden death.

Still, I keep going back to one thing: I really do like to bike. It’s fun. It’s nice to have the wind in your hair. It’s good exercise. It’s good for the environment. It’s just, well, good. What is not so good is that I don’t actually own a bike.
And tonight all that’s changing. Because, as of tonight, I own a bike.

I’m not actually sure if I can ride it. I don’t have any idea where I’ll even keep it. I don’t have a bike lock or a helmet or a bike rack. I don’t know bike signals, either.

Most people in my neighborhood have fancy street or cross-road bikes (is that even the right term?) but this is a beach cruiser because a friend is basically giving it to me for a song.

And I’m going to ride that beach cruiser, damn it. I might ride it only in calm, residential streets. But I’m gonna ride it. Maybe eventually I’ll even coax my poor little pup back into the (heavily padded) basket.

Is it really that big of a deal to have a big ol' bike in the middle of my living room anyway? I'm hoping it's not.

1 comment:

  1. I've always wanted a beach cruiser. I think it's cool. You can always store it at me place. We have a garage. Iowa isn't too far away =).