Friday, June 17, 2011

442. New Bike Syndrome

Crazy Town is not located in California, and therefore is not exactly a mecca of physical fitness and activity. I, myself, though, am in excellent shape and work out consistently (I go for a fifteen minute walk at least once a week). I recently decided to further improve my health by cross-training (for those of you who don’t know what cross-training is, it means something like “Cross that bridge when you get to it,” or “Cross, as in mad” or even, “Why did Jesus not work out more, because he was bearing a cross,”). So it should come as no surprise that I am now impressing everyone with my superior biking skills and savvy of all things bicycle-related.

When I walked into the bike section of LLBean to purchase my new bike, the LLBean employee knew he had a seasoned pro on his hands.

“What kind of bicycle are you interested in, ma’am?”

“Oh, you know, uh, the kind that has two wheels and maybe they go round. And it would be good if I, uh, didn’t fall off.”

“Hmm. Right.” He definitely knew what kind of customer he was dealing with. “Have you ever owned a bike before?”

“Ha ha! Sure! Of course! Have I owned a bike before! I am just looking to, uh, upgrade a little bit.” Big smile.

“Good, well, we can help you with that. Can you just tell me what kind of bike you last rode?”

“Umm, it had a longer seat? And streamers?”

“A banana seat? Like a kid’s bike?”

“Yes!” Blushing now. “I guess it has been a while since I’ve owned a bike.”

“That’s okay. You’re never too old.”

Wait—did he just say I was old?

He showed me a bunch of bikes, and then he started throwing out advanced biking terminology like “derailer,” “pinch bolt,” “adjusting barrel,” and “tires.” I nodded politely and pretended I was listening.

“Oh, pretty! Turquoise! This one comes in turquoise! I’ll take it!”

My American Express card groaned audibly as he swiped it through the credit card machine. I was now the proud owner of a bike, helmet, lock, bell, basket, blinking front and back lights, reflectors, reflective wrist bracelets, cargo holder, tote bag, and water bottle holder. The pushy LLBean employee tried (unsuccessfully) to sell me a bunch of useless other junk I really didn’t need, like an elaborate air pump and hole patching kit.

“These cost $3 each.  You need to buy them in case your tires go flat or you drive over a sharp piece of glass,” he explained, like I was not smart with my money.

“Well, the tires feel pretty firm and fat to me, and I normally avoid broken glass, but thanks anyway.”

Stupid LLBean employee!

After I paid, and he went into a whole diatribe about warranties and maintenance and upkeep and rust-proofing and biking social clubs, I was finally able to escape out to my car with my new bike and all my new loot.

This is the part where you expect me to say it didn’t fit in my car. This is the part where you go back and read my blog about me transporting a piano. amusing piano blog, come back and read this later

I got my fancy turquoise bike home and introduced it to its special spot in the garage. New bike took one look at the dusty spot where Elliptical Machine used to live before we donated it to the Goodwill, and said, “You will use me, though, right?”

The very next morning, I woke up at 5 AM, ready to ride my beautiful LLBean bike. I adjusted my lovely helmet, rang my loud neon pink bike bell, and was underway.

We are fortunate enough to live very close to a bike path. I decided that since I had not ridden a bike in a while, this would be a very safe way to go for me. I zipped along for many many feet, yards, and perhaps even miles. It was fun! Why had I not bought a bike sooner?

I didn’t crash, not even once. If you are waiting for the part where I crash, you can stop reading now. Because I did not crash.

I passed a lot of other people on that bike path, mostly geriatric walkers with dogs. But it still felt good to pass someone.

I noticed some bikers with no helmets. My helmet only cost $22. Isn’t $22 worth it to not become a vegetable if you get run over? I passed the non-helmet bikers, feeling very smug about my protected brain and pitying them for their future mushed vegetable brains.

I realized a lot of bikers, the ones who look like they know what they’re doing and maybe bike every day, were wearing special biking attire (in addition to their helmets). I just had on normal shorts and a t-shirt. My biking wardrobe said, “casual, relaxed,” not “uptight, show-offy.”

A lot of these so-called Lance Armstrong-types passed me. “On your left!” I heard over and over again. “Onyourleft-onyourleft-onyourleft-onyourleft!!!!”

In sum, my first bike ride was a positive experience. The weather at 5 AM is still cool and refreshing. I felt like I had a good work out, and I felt energized to start my day.

The Husband was just taking the trash out when I got home.

“Hi, Honey!” he gave me a little hug. “How was your first ride?”

“Great! I love it! I think I might train for a race—it was awesome! Riding a bike is so easy, you never forget how. It all came back to me, and it was like I’d been riding my whole life.”

“Good. Uh, what’s the deal with your helmet? Hey, you know you have that on backwards? Why do you have it on backwards?”

“It’s not on backwards, this is how it goes.” I pointed to the back.

He laughed. “You’re wrong. Try this.” He unfastened my helmet like I was a kindergartner, flipped my helmet the other way, and clicked it back on. “See?”

“Oh, yeah, I guess you’re right. Huh. Well, that must be a common mistake. They should label these things …”

“MOV, when I get my mountain bike fixed, we can go biking together!”

“Okay, Sweetie, that’ll be fun! We’ll get a sitter and then we can go for a long ride and then maybe stop at a Starbucks on the way back.” I beamed at him. We were just like a biking commercial, the two of us, bike-savvy, in shape, having fun, and making other people envious of our new bike-centric lifestyle.

“Oh, MOV, did your gears shift easily?”

“My bike has gears?”

("Mistress Of Velocity")


  1. I recently got my first bike in many years too - I got a Montague folding bike, since I don't live near a bike path, but with the Montague, I can just put the bike in my trunk and drive to the park where I can ride. It's a lot easier and safer (for me) than riding in the traffic.

  2. LBJ,

    Fancy! I just popped over to their website. Tell me this: is the invisible person from their demo video included (you know, the one who clicks off the front tire, releases the special lever, twists the bike a secret way, then voila! folded bike!)? I kinda need the invisible person (you are talking to a girl who wears her helmet backwards). Maybe my bike already DOES fold in half and it is a selling feature the LLBean employee forgot to mention??????



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