What’s that charming poster behind the bike helmet? Why, that’s the poster for the reading of HOT MESS we did back last Spring!
When I was little, I used to like riding my bike really fast. I liked feeling the wind and speeding along and my heart pounding in my chest and working at the pedals really, really hard until I just couldn’t anymore and I’d coast.
As far as I could.
A couple years ago I had my parents bring my old bike down to the city. I knew I’d have to have someone go over it before I rode it again. This weekend, I finally got around to getting it fixed up. The tires were a bit bent, so they got straightened out. The chain was tested and came up with a gold star. The brakes were fine. We replaced the tubes and when I mentioned that the back tire had a habit of going flat, the mechanic suggested a couple bucks’ worth of tape around the inside of the tire, under the tube.
I didn’t have a bike helmet yet but I let myself indulge, and pedaled awkwardly home on the sidewalk, praying this didn’t wind up being a ticketable offense. The key to my bike lock had gone AWOL, so I couldn’t really go anywhere anyway.
I started looking for a helmet online, getting a few simple recommendations, but the plethora of choice was still completely paralyzing. On the advice of a friend, I popped into a sporting goods store and bought the cheapest thing they had that was certified and also fit my giant head. That was yesterday.
Today I went for my first bike ride in about ten years. The sun was setting over the Hudson and I teetered on my bike and tried to figure out the etiquette of riding in the city, sharing a path with scooters and roller bladers and pedestrians. And I pedaled and braked and went around tight, right-angle corners, and every so often I got a clear moment and could take a look out over the water.
I reached a point where I thought, better head back now. And as I pedaled my way back, the paths were quieter, with the commuters largely having made their way to their destinations. Fewer people on the path; more opportunity to ride faster. Pedaling as hard as I could.
And then…I could coast.
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