The Reluctant Cyclist, part 3


  • Alas.
Look, I was ready, sporting my styley bike pants, pannier packed and motivation high. Unfortunately, my tire was low – and no matter how much I tried to inflate it, the rubber stayed squishy to the squeeze. I ended up lifting the bike into the truck bed – a working tailgate would be nice at times like this – and driving it to Revolution Bicycles, the place from whence it came all those years ago

They are nice people, the people who work at Revolution. They've never made me feel dumb for knowing nothing about bikes. And yet, due to my own awareness of my cluelessness, I walk in wearing embarrassment like it's a T-shirt saying, "Not An Actual Bike Person." 

I wheel my bike over to the repair area and explain that "this" – I point to the tire, apparently unable to identify it by name – "isn't holding air." Also, I continue, "The... chain?... uh... won't shift?" Because that's another thing I noticed a couple days ago – that the front version of the things that shift into different gears isn't working. Usually I just leave that one alone and switch the back one up-and-down – see? I don't even know the parts to explain what is (not) happening. 

When Justin, one of the owners, says hi to me and compliments my bike on being ridden, I tell him I'm writing about bicycling for the Journal. The repair guy asks my name for the form he's filling out, and after I say it, he says, "Oh, I've read a lot of your stuff" in a tone that is neither compliment nor derision, which leaves me unable to determine if reading my stuff has been a good experience for him or a bad. I stand awkwardly until he says, kindly, that he'll have an estimate for me tomorrow. And then I leave.

Now, it's possible to someone not living in my head, that I appeared normal. Or my dorkiness could have been as obvious as it felt. Hard to say. In any case, the bike is in cleverer hands and I hope to have it back soon. 

In the meantime, some thoughts following my last post, on bicycling home over the bridges from Eureka. The morning ride had taken place after 9 a.m., but my return trip was squarely in the midst of rush hour. 

Number of miles ridden (one-way): 4.0
Time traveled: 23:51 minutes
Number of other pedestrians passed: 2
Number of times actively feared for life: 5

Vehicles speeding by are much worse when they come as a relentless onslaught instead of an occasional hazard. The increased traffic also meant that passing cars didn't scoot over nearly as much, which was especially troublesome when I had to go around the people walking over the bridge – not their fault, but room does not exist for a car to go around a cyclist going around a pedestrian. And drivers sure can't seem to just maybe slow down for a minute while we all work this out. 

Finally, because I have upset someone who feels my "attitude about cycling is a real downer," let me first say some things I love about riding my bike: the view, the exercise, the fun of going downhill, the satisfaction of having ridden. 


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