Friday, May 6, 2011

Razor's Edge: Friday, May 6

Today's theme is bicycles.

This is my newest activity outlet. I've been thinking about it for a couple of years - but I frequently think of something new to do, to achieve, to try. And sometimes I have to draw the line, cut something out, or postpone the experiment. Bicycling was one of those. I didn't have a bike any more, was doing distance walking, dragon boating, working, teaching, writing, and more and - no time, especially since I didn't have the equipment.

I have a friend who bought a bicycle a couple of years ago. Due to some circumstance she hasn't been on her bike in a while and I asked if I could borrow it.

She said "yes." The first step was getting to her house at a time we were both available; since we work the true opposite ends of the day and the week, this was not an easy task. But we found one so me getting there, adjusting her bicycle to fit me, me trying to ride it and then - getting it home.

I stopped at a local bicycle repair shop I pass at least twice per day and asked about rack options. With an only partially concealed sneer, he told me I should just put it in my car, rather than wrestling with an overhead rack that would decrease the clearance of my car in spaces like a parking garage, or going to the expense or trouble of a mounted rack, since I was just trying it out. Luckily my new car can accommodate a bicycle inside.

So I went to my friend's house, we got out her bike and dusted it off, adjusted the seat and the seat stem (is that what it's called?) and I took it to the non-busy road in front of her house. She'd warned me about turning; she'd discovered on her first few rides out that it was not as easy as she remembered it being as a kid. I thanked her and wobbled my way up onto the seat while applying my weight to the up pedal and off I went. And she was right about turning. I was glad she'd told me, since I needed a wider spot to turn around than even my old Saturn sedan had required - wow. But I didn't fall. And I didn't throw myself over the handlebars when I stopped: my body instinctively remembered to that "right is rear" and to not stop myself with the front brakes. Yay. First test done.

It only took getting the bicycle into my car that one time with my friend's help and then taking it out solo at home, one time, to know that I needed another way to be able to take the bike somewhere for longer rides. No way was I going to wrestle it in and out of my car every time I wanted to go for a longer ride. So I made a deal with myself and that, if I took it out a few more times in the neighborhood and really thought I liked it and wanted to go further, I'd start with a rear mount removable bike rack. Later if I get my own bike and am on it more regularly, I'll invest in something a little more secure.

So, I did. I became the proud owner of a rear-mount hatchback bicycle rack that can hold up to three bicycles. So I can go riding with a friend.

Next (yesterday) was the basic bicycle repair and maintenance class at REI. Good, free, basic. Yes. Which led to the purchase of padded palm bicycling gloves and chain lubricant. Well, the class didn't lead to those purchases - my rides led to those purchases, but since I was at REI for the class, of course I bought them there. And used my member dividend to reduce the cost.

And so it has begun. The purchase of bicycle gear. To add to my paddling and kayaking and walking and distance relay gear.

If I start craving spandex pants, I'll know I'm in trouble. No - seriously. But at this point I don't see a need for special bicycle clothing. At this point I'm quite happy to ride in my jeans - more protection for my skin if I fall. I know when it gets hot I'll want something else - or not. Something more breathable, probably. But there is no reason I can think of for me to ever leave the house in spandex shorts. No.

Write a story about your experience with a bicycle - present or as a child. Or write a story where your character has an interesting encounter on a bicycle.

Still stuck? Try one of the visual prompts below to get you started (one animated picture; one video).

or the bicycle repairman sketch from the old Monty Python...