The Joy of Cycling.

There is no other way to say this:

I had my first orgasm on a bike.

I got there because I have always been in love with the bicycle.  First one was a  Schwinn made of solid iron, discovered under the Christmas tree when I was about eight, shiny and blue and obviously meant for my older sister, not me.  And yet Behold!  As my parents were resurrected with their coffee in hand they heralded that the bike was indeed to be mine and not hers.  Oh Joyous Day!  They could not get me to come home for supper.

At ten I spent my afternoons browsing through the limited bicycle section of the Sears catalog, and I  had become obsessed with a  Schwinn Sting Ray, banana-seated purple girls “muscle bike,”  complete with tail light, hand brakes, and a 5-gear shift on the top tube.  I lusted, I  craved, I obsessed, all to no avail as my mother was going through a “don’t spoil yer kids” phase.  However, after a particularly  successful  multi-starred report card,  she softened and drove me to Kiddie City and I came home with it.  It remained my obsession for many happy years in which, lucky kid to find myself in that time period, free-range and pedo-free,  it was my neighborhood pony.  I went everywhere with this bike, and kept it until the late eighties when my father, in some kind of irrational snit, decided to clean the barn and take it to the dump.  I see on E- Bay today that similar bikes are starting at upwards of six thousand.  I still mourn.

Then a succession of largish generic three-speeds, followed in late high school by a slim and essential ten-speed Raleigh road bike.   It was elegant and beautiful; still IS beautiful  down in my basement, where it resides since I brought it with me to Italy in the eighties.  Nothing I am riding today compares to the aesthetic of that bicycle.

However!  Now I am almost 63 years old.  At some point when the kids were little I rediscovered that riding a bike is one of life’s essential joys.  Seeing the boys noodling around on their bicycles, I decided;  Where and when, if not Italy and NOW, would I be better served by the purchase of a bike for myself?  Subsequently I have had a series of bikes, city or mountain or hybrids, until the miraculous appearance of the pedal-assist.

Hallelujah!  There is nothing to compare to (they call it “flow,”  and that covers it!)  the feeling of setting out to get as far as you can, no fear of steep hills, flying along at a high rate of speed for no reason at all.  Heaven!

Many people do not understand pedal-assist bikes, and here I must speak in its defense to all those who make snide comments such as “Oh, you have a motor.  So that’s not really bicycling.”  As they totter off  in  hobnailed tap-shoes, their buttocks munching happily on shiny Lycra bike shorts.  Let me explain.

Pedal-assist means that when you encounter a long steep incline you do not have to be filled with dread, destined to push the bike along until finally, sweating and wheezing, you can rest before remounting.  It means steadily moving along.  Flowing up the hill.  If it is a mountain bike, it means equal satisfaction maneuvering obstacles up the hill as well as down.  Oh, you are still going to sweat!  As to the workout, it also means pedaling a 40-pound bike entirely without help at any speed over 25 kilometres an hour.  The assist mechanism cuts out at 25.  If your average flat speed is about 30 well, you are getting quite the workout, believe me.  It also means flying away from a full stop and reaching maximum speed in about five seconds.  Joyous!

But most importantly, it means racking up the miles.   It means getting out there and using the bike as often as you can.  Thirty pounds lighter, and with an old knee injury that no longer bothers me, I can attest to the exercise the bike provides.  My average ride goes from about 25 to 40 kilometres.  But I am doing it almost every day, and when I get back  home I am still ready to mount up and go.  I wear a cut piece of old nylon stocking over my nose and mouth to avoid eating a ton of flying insects, which, at these speeds, are inevitable.   I recognize  the blank “does-not-compute” expression of people who look at me, a heavy older lady zigging through parking lots and hopping over obstacles, zagging through traffic and racing automobiles at stop lights.  Somebody’s grandmother flying down an agricultural road, earbuds blasting EDM, scaring the sheep.   Look people:  I am having FUN.

I admit this is a bit exaggerated.  I am scrupulous about obeying  traffic laws.  The bike, especially because it is fast, must behave like a car in traffic.  The only trouble I ever have is with other cyclists who suddenly do things without warning.  I am appalled at how many cyclists I see with no rear-view reflective device at all.  How can they maneuver without knowing what is happening behind them?  I have been blocked by tandem teams of lethargic and chatty road bikers, oblivious to the concept of single-file in a bike lane that can accommodate only one rider each way.  I have been pushed to the gravel-and glass-filled outside edge of the bike lane by clots of spandex-ed weekend warriors.  Thank you, and may you soon encounter a patch of pure and unavoidable sand.  If you drive a car, and you have groused at bikers who ride outside of the bike lane, you should know that all the collected detritus of the road inevitably ends up there,  and broken glass, sand and gravel can be deadly for the cyclist.  I am always happy to see the brush cleaner trucks making their rounds.  I hope you don’t park in the bike lane.

Have I convinced you that there is nothing like a bicycle?  Now let me tell you about my motorcycle….

What do they say?  It’s like riding a bike!

bike for blog

 

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