A few days ago, I bought my first “real” bicycle. I will be completely honest. I had no idea what I was looking for. I know the bicycle is a pretty simple machine. The mechanics, I mean, are pretty basic. But, it’s French to me. I know that you put your ass on the seat, your feet on the pedals and you just go. That’s about it. (Side note: I have no problem admitting that I’m ignorant about things, by the way. A lot of people take offense to the word “ignorant.” You don’t know everything. In fact, you never will. So, what’s the big deal about admitting you are ignorant about a subject? I would much rather admit my shortcomings or faults and learn about a particular subject, rather than keep quiet and brush it under the rug, hoping the teacher doesn’t call on me, embarrassing me in front of my peers).
That said, I bought a bike. I got a really good deal on her, too. There was a guy moving and getting rid of two bikes (his and his girlfriend’s). All I knew is that I was looking for a ten speed (because of the hills, you know). That’s it. So, I stumble across his ad and I’m completely blunt with him. “Now, I know you should never ask your barber if you need a hair cut, just as I shouldn’t be asking you if this is a decent bike, but, I’m going to put my faith in a fellow human.” He briefly told me stuff to look out for when bike shopping (rust, weird noises, etc). He seemed pretty upfront, so I arranged a time to meet up. Now, remember, I know nothing about bicycles. Virgin. But, I showed up, gave her a test ride and she was smooth as butter. She. Felt. Amazing. I couldn’t tell you if this guy was selling me a junker or giving me a hell of a deal, but I can tell you that I
wanted needed this bike. Since I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for, I took my little test ride as an “A-OK” and let that be that. I gave him some cash and he looked at me with a smile, winked and said, “You don’t need a hair cut.” I was on my way.
I was in the U District, maybe about three or four miles from my place. I planned on taking the bus back, as it was rush hour, cold, and I hadn’t ridden a bike in years. I mean, years. So, I just rode a couple of blocks to the nearest bus stop and I felt so liberated. It reminded me of the first time I took off on my motorcycle. It was incredible and I might have let out a few “woo’s” as I peddled my stems down the road. I missed the bus. Then the next bus wasn’t going to Capitol Hill. Neither was the next. Or the next one. Whilst waiting, I kept thinking to myself, “If I just rode my bike, I could have been home by now.” So I went.
It was all uphill. No exaggeration. The entire ride was literally all uphill, except for the last four blocks being downhill from the main drag to my door step. For someone who hasn’t ridden in years, riding three plus miles all uphill is quite the work-out. But, I managed. I didn’t have water (as I didn’t intend on riding home), and I was parched. My thighs were stinging. Tears were streaming down my face thanks to the chilling night air. I was basically I mess, but I didn’t stop. I was overjoyed when I starting seeing familiar roads and establishments. I was even more ecstatic when I pulled onto my road. You know that feeling you get after taking a really long road trip, and you finally see your exit sign? That kind of goodness. I pull up to my place and bring my new lady up three flights of stairs. As I turn on the light, I notice one of my knuckles was split open, and blood, half crusty, had oozed all over my middle finger. No worries we were home, safe and sound.
Fast forward to our bonding time. I really didn’t intend of giving this much of a back story, but that’s what happens. I’m sure you are managing, eh?
She was dirty. I mean, really dirty. Like I said, I really don’t know much about bicycles and maintenance, but I’m pretty sure there’s not supposed to be hair caught in the chain and gunk smeared all over the chainrings and cogset (see, I’m getting this terminology down). As I was down on my knees really giving the bike a look-over, sadness overcame me, like a gust of wind that overpowered me and pushed me off my feet. I sat down, fingering the grease-covered parts with a heavy heart. “Someone wasn’t good to you,” I said out loud. I felt like I had rescued a puppy from a negligent owner. “Let’s get you cleaned up.”
Then, we bonded. Gotye was blaring as I used a warm cloth to wipe the rims and spokes clean, making my way up the chain stay and seat stay. I was legitimately sad that she was so dirty, but I couldn’t help but smile as I discarded Qtips and paper towels into a small pile on the floor. Hell, I am smiling right now just reminiscing about it. She appreciated the TLC.
I will conclude with this: I’m still unsure if I purchased a “bad bike,” but I’m not concerned about it. The time spent with my bike was (and will be) no less than incredible. We bonded. Legitimately bonded. There was definitely a connection there, and it warmed my heart. Maybe it’s just because this is my first “real bike.” Maybe it’s kind of like your first love. Everything is new and exciting. It’s unfamiliar and you are just bursting at the seams, wanting to explore every inch of this other being. Yearning to dive into their past, wade in the present and swim towards the future. The cracks and scars give them character, depth, definition, shown the world they’ve been places. They speak without mumbling a word. They have stories. They have flaws, and you love and accept them more than you could accept your own faults. You’re still trying to figure yourself out, overflowing with emotions, doubts, expectations, anticipation, what have you – and you’re trying to figure this other person out. Or, in this case, a bike. It feels good. And whether or not I got stuck with a “lemon” or not, it’s irrelevant. I’m sure it won’t take much to doctor her up, and, like people whom we care deeply for, I’m not one to judge her for what has gone down in history (i.e. how the last person treated her). She’s a part of me now.
And I have fallen in love.