Wednesday, September 10, 2003
with appearances by cars and buses
special guest star: subways
The riding of the bike is a skill I never quite acquired. In my early youth I had the requisite training-wheel bedecked two-wheeler, which I would ride around our driveway. Sad to say, our driveway had only a small even stretch before it sloped upward at a violent pitch that made getting out during winter a real hit-or-miss affair, especially in my mom's rear-wheel-drive-ed Volvo Station Wagon (at first a blue one, then the silver one I would later inherit when mom upgraded to an Audi 80), a pitch which laughed in derisive peals at my pitiful one-speed.
Taking off the training wheels never quite happened. For reasons that I can't quite remember, but which probably had much to do with my unfortunate youthful tendency towards being very stubborn and even more easily frustrated, I eventually decided that riding a bicycle was a skill I simply had neither the need nor the desire to learn.
Years later during a family vacation to Sea Island, Georgia the whole family rented bicycles. I was older and ever so slightly less moody and so made an attempt. I quickly mastered the trick of turning into a fall and was wobbling my way quite successfully down the road, when a wobble turned the front wheel right into one of the many posts which for some reason lined the side. I scraped the hell outta my knee and bike riding fell behind physical recovery.
And so we skip highschool and college, during which times my acquisition of the abovementioned Volvo, followed by my further inheritance of my dad's old Audi 90 Quattro, occupied the vehicular portion of my attention. Finally we come to my years outside Boston (as hardly anybody lives in Boston itself). Newly out of a brief relationship with an Environmental Science major, I was big on the idea of using public transit whenever possible. This lead to such things as taking the 557 bus to work, which took me through Waltham and made a commute that in my car clocked in at 15 minutes (including traffic) into one that took a full hour. (My move to Somerville, then, from where car and mass transit both took about an hour, was a wise one on many fronts.)
I believe it was the T closing at 12:45AM and so many shows at the Middle East going to 1AM, leading to long walks home, that inspired me at long last to continue my years-delayed bike schoolin'. I took a beginner's cycling class through the Cambridge Center for Adult Education (where I also took guitar lessons and even gave Assertiveness Training a shot). I got to a point where I felt comfortable enough on a bike that I at least wanted to buy my own so I could continue riding the bike path on weekends until I felt ready for street riding.
The teacher (from the small world folder: towards the end of the classes, which were held in Somerville, I discovered that he had also attended Renbrook School) offered a service wherein he would help out any students interested in purchasing a bike-- go with them to the store, give advice on what to look for, etc. So we arranged a time to meet at a place he generally trusted, and I took the bus over after work. I got there five minutes early or so, and so went to the neighboring sandwich place to grab some food. Then I waited on the bus bench outside of the store and waited for him to show.
Ten minutes after he was supposed to be there I went inside to look for him. And learned from the employees that the bike shop was a massive complex which continued around the corner. I went into the other area and looked around, but saw no sign. I assume he waited for me for ten minutes and then gave up and left. But I never emailed him or contacted him again, on the possibility that he had blown me off. I presume that he did the same. Communications breakdowns are fun!
So here I am now in DC, three years later. I've decided to buy a bike. I decided this shortly after I moved here, when I realized that the Metro is all but useless. I've done my research, narrowed my choices down, and now comes the part I've been dreading: The test rides.
Today, my day off, I slept too late to test ride all three. I did get to try out the Marin Larkspur, a lovely little bike, aluminum framed and endowed with very nice Shimano components (selling point: by far the best components of the three). I did not get run over by cars or other cyclists, nor did I run over any joggers (though neither one by much) but I sure as shorn did look like an incompetent idiot in front of a bunch of people (especially the jogger, but what the hell was he doing jogging on the left side of the path, right bee-line unswervingly toward me!? I swear he was aiming for me!). My only complaint about the Marin is that the geometry wasn't quite as upright as I would have liked, though it might have been the seat adjustment. I'll have to see how the other two (Specialized Crossroads, Giant Cypress) compare.
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