Maybe I’m just not meant to ride a bicycle…

bike in shed
My bike back in the shed from whence it came…

My husband Dave is a serious cyclist who is on a 90-mile ride today to train for the AIDS Life Cycle week-long ride at the end of this month.

Me? Not so much. I mean I own a bike, and I ride it every year to the SF Mime Troupe’s performance at Cedar Rose Park because it’s a tad too long to walk, the route is mostly on a bike path, and parking on performance days is limited.

But recently I was feeling guilty for driving my car to downtown Berkeley, so I thought, what the heck? Why not get the bike out?

I first tried it out a few weeks ago. Dave lent me his fancy Kryptonite lock that he hadn’t even used yet. When I reached the library, I tried to open the lock but couldn’t. I asked for help from a fellow cyclist, but he couldn’t get the key to work either. Luckily, I was early (for once), so I rode two blocks to a bike shop to see if anyone there could open the lock. But the key just didn’t work.

The incredibly nice guy at the bike shop swapped out the lock for a brand-new one at no charge whatsoever so that I’d be able to lock up my bike! All he asked is that I bring him the extra key that came with the faulty lock some time so that he could send it all back to the company together. He would deal with getting a replacement, and I was free to go on my merry way without worrying that my bike would get stolen while I was in the library. Thank you, nice bike guy!

Then I hurt my back, after which I got the flu, so I didn’t ride downtown until a few days ago. With my new bike lock (that I locked and unlocked before I set out), I rode along the Ohlone path. Unfortunately I had chosen to wear my book bag rather than a daypack, and it kept slipping off my back, around my side, and landing in what would have been my lap. If it were light, it would have just been annoying; but it held not only my book and papers but also the heavy lock and a tin of chocolate chip cookies. (Don’t ask.) So my bag kept banging on my left knee each time I pedaled. I had to stop multiple times to move the bag around so that it was on my back.

What with all the stopping and starting, I was running late and started pedaling harder. As I rode past a homeless guy at Ohlone Park, he helpfully suggested that I change gears. When I was stopped at Martin Luther King and Hearst, a gaggle of Cal students jogged by me en masse, and I heard one exclaim to another, “That’s because you’re not Mexican!” I have no idea what the context was, whether I should laugh or be offended, or what race any of the youths were, and I didn’t really have time to contemplate it further because the light changed.

banged-up knee
One of my banged-up knees

Although I should have crossed MLK and continued to Milvia, I stupidly turned right. Milvia is a designated bike-friendly street. MLK is a busy thoroughfare. Lots of cars sped by me, some of them rather close. And with all the cars parked on the street, there was very little room to maneuver. When a car whizzed by me only inches away, I got spooked. Instead of waiting to use the driveway just ahead, I tried to jump my bike up to the sidewalk. Not a good idea. I wiped out. A nice man who was walking by helped me get my bike upright and asked if I was okay. I assured him I was, though I’d been better. I was so glad that I had worn jeans because there was a hole in the knee that would have been a hole in my knee had I been wearing anything less. The chain had slipped off the gears, so after re-attaching it, my hands were a yummy mixture of blood and bicycle grease.

I did make it to the library, and luckily this time, my lock worked perfectly. A fellow Playreader graciously gave me a pre-moistened wipe for my hands. And everyone loved the cookies.

But once I got home, I took a shower, iced my swelling lumps, and vowed to leave my bike in the shed until the Mime Troupe comes to town this summer.

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