Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I Lava Bicycles

 May is Bike Month.

Photo by Jennifer Emerling

These days there's a month for everything, so I've always blown it off.  Whatever, dude.  I hadn't ridden a bike since I was twelve and the task of getting started now seemed pretty daunting. 

But dang, I've always been jealous of the self-satisfied look on the faces of every bike-to-worker.  The tan and muscled legs of the girls who ride their bikes to the bar.  The cute baskets, the excuse to wear leggings with everything, the ability to cut the umbilical cord to the gas pump, or at least fray it a little bit.  Like I said, hella jelly.

But I have kids.  I live in the country.  I can't ride a bike.  I'm never gonna be able to get over my fear of riding in traffic.  I sunburn.  I'm so out of shape.  I don't even know how to begin.

That's what I bitterly thought to myself every time I saw another cool girl ride by on her cool bike. 

When May was approaching this year I really didn't want to have to pretend not to care anymore.  I asked my dad to fix up a bike I'd had in my garage for a few years that I found in a trash heap.  It was a cute bike.  I used it once in a photo shoot.  Ridden it?  Never.

Escorted by an experienced cool-bike-person who was someone I trusted to see me ride in the way that a baby deer walks, I tried to ride to work.  Tried being the operative term here.  He ended up swapping bikes with me halfway there because it was SO IMPOSSIBLE to ride.  Like, it didn't coast at all and I don't even know enough about bikes to tell you why else it sucked, but it sucked.  No wonder it was in a trash heap.

The next day my mom offered to buy me a new bike to avoid my hardheaded "Gonna do this no matter what what" nature getting me into trouble and broken down... probably at the bottom of an irrigation canal.  I told you, I live in the country.  

If I hadn't had the bike from hell experience the day before my choice at the bike shop would have been very different.  Because my wrists and forearms hurt from the awkward angle of the handlebars, that was a major factor.  It was also way too small for me.  My mom, knowing I'm vain beyond belief, told the bike shop cool-guy I am really image conscious and I quickly cut her off saying "I need something really functional and it needs to get me to and from work without sucking."  

My first bicycling breakthrough, omigod, I ignored my instinct to go for cute or cool. One day on a bike and I'd already become a better person.

The shop had a lot of small bikes, but only two or three medium sized bikes to choose from, so I ended up choosing a comfort bike.  It can handle the unkempt and potholed country roads- my main concern.  It felt good as I rode around the parking lot.  I kind of fell in love a little with the smoothness of pure human power causing me to move. 

That afternoon I went on my first ride by myself out to Kearney Park and I officially became a bike girl.  The way things smell sweet and you can hear birds and wind and hearing my breathing as I'd push myself harder and faster and then coasting and inhaling deeply while the sun hit my arms and face.  
I took a BFF pic with it while I enjoyed my reaching my destination on my first ride to Kearney Park.

That was 3 weeks ago I've ridden 214 miles since.  It's felt amazing.  Even riding on busy streets doesn't intimidate me.  Much. 

I doubt I'll ever be a cool bike girl, but it's always good to have a goal, and anyway I'm head over heels in lava with riding my bike.

Happy bike month, y'all.  If you're not on a bike yet, your excuses are irrelevant.  Get on one.


  1. I'm riding now too, mostly because I have to but also it does feel good. im in the market for a new bike because the one i have is too small for me but i have this awesome vintage cruiser too it just needs a lot of work.

  2. I really like this one I got. It's so easy to ride and it handles all of the shitty country roads like a champ! Sometime I'll ride and pretend I'm riding with you and you can ride and pretend I'm there and it'll be like we're riding together! <3