Learning to Love Again [Nerd in Transition]
I am learning to love my bicycle. I really have no other choice. The reality of getting a car just gets more and more distant, so I have been putting a little time and money into my cheap craigslist purchase. Not much, yet, just something to make it easier to ride. And ride I have!
The first thing to go was the original bike seat. It was small and hard black plastic. The phrase “my butt ate it” wasn’t a metaphor. It has been replaced by a nice wide cushioned seat with springs in the back. It’s even got a cute white with a quilted brown top. Since my frame is red and the quilted seat is white and brown, I am now off on a retro design scheme — well, I will be once I am done with basic maintenance.
Next up the speed set handle bars.Sorry but I am too old and too big to be hunched over like Tour de France far. Riding down the street bent over like an old maid, it was a constant battle as to which was going to knock out a front tooth first, my tits or my knees. So goodbye C-shaped speed bars with bad brakes and hello taller, wider street bike handle bars. Currently these are some ugly plain silver handlebars right off the factory floor, but I don’t give a fuck. Riding with a straight back my tits felt perky again, hich in turn makes me feel perky again.
So far this is all that I have done to the Red Menace (how’s that for a bike name? yes, no?). My next step will be adding a rack to strap my computer onto and collapsible steel baskets that hook to the back of the bike. It won’t be until that occurs that I will start riding it around for something other than joy rides. I am greatly looking forward to peddling my groceries home. I might be able to start buying ice cream again.
Joy riding is not a bad way to spend a Saturday, though. At this time I should say something that I have never mentioned before, I really like riding bikes. As a young girl I once spent two weeks at Girl Scout camp doing little more than riding bikes and swimming in a big stinky lake. I purchased my own bike as a child, saved up and got this beautiful purple ten speed while all the other neighborhood girls were riding the exact same pink and gray barf-cycle. So this past Saturday I got up, strapped on a helmet and headed off down the road. I decided that I was going to fall in love with this bike.
I headed downtown through crowded shopping districts, down desolate streets, housing tents of the homeless, around a corner where every store sold wholesale flowers leaving the linger of summer forever in the air, up the wrong way of a one way street, got over taken by hip teenagers on bright neon colored bikes with fixed gears and finally pausing at a Yogurtland to recharge and watch the people stroll by. On the way back home I cruised past the Lantern Festival celebrating the Chinese New Year and various other Asian cultures. This was a family celebration with the most amazing kids crafts tables spread through the square.
The final lap of my return trip took me past my local park. All last summer and on into this winter the park has been in a flurry of activity to use up earmarked grants before the money disappears. One of the biggest and best projects has been the impressive improvement to the skatepark. What was once a small fenced in space with limited ramps for tricks is now wide open with ramps, bowls and a street section. All the neighborhood kids have slowly been going nuts waiting for it to be ready, so much so that the past week found renegades rolling after sundown. But this was the official opening, with a sound stage, current popular skaters, cameras and every kid from the neighborhood standing with deck in hand ready to drop in. I took a few pictures then decided to leave when a young man asked if I was there with my kids.
All in all it was a great ride. I learned how good the brakes on my bike are, what the turning radiance is, figured out at least 5 gears, and got up major hills. I saw great family happenings in a city that is only ever portrayed as the big, gang-filled, youth obsessed, druggie, money hungry bastard of America, Los Angeles. Oh and I had a Dino’s burger at long last. This place is legendary in East LA and downtown and thankfully hasn’t realized that yet. So yeah I love my Little Red Riding Hood (name, yes? no?) she’s small, light and fast. We’re going to have a good time together.
featured image credit: Thomas Hawk