Since jogging doesn't seem to be my thing, I
thought I'd try something new today: bike riding.
My friend Kris has let me borrow her mountain
bike, and while I don't plan on riding on anything even remotely resembling a
mountain, I figure I might use it to get around for a while. There's a problem,
though. You know the saying: *Random activity* is just like riding a bike: you
never forget? Well, I forgot. At least it feels that way.
First of all, I don't remember being so wobbly
on a bike. I seem to recall riding down the street as a kid, at about 95 miles
per hour, no hands on the handlebars, tossing a tennis ball up into the air and
catching it with a baseball glove while I rode. It was easy. I could even turn
into my driveway without touching the handlebars. Today, I can't even remove one
hand from the handlebars to take a puff of my cigarette without veering sharply
into a tree. And when I'm riding slowly I have no control whatsoever. The front
tire shimmies back and forth so much it looks as if I am attempting to avoid
running over individual dirt molecules, or participating in the tiniest slalom
I'm also not certain of the rules these days.
Do I ride on the sidewalk or the street? From the bicyclists I observe every
day, I'm supposed to ride directly in the middle of traffic, slowing everyone
else down, ignoring stop lights and drinking imported bottled water while
wearing bright yellow spandex outfits so tight people can see every facet and
nuance of my scrotum.
I think I'll stick to jeans and the sidewalk!
It just feels weird to be on a bike again.
Sitting on the bike with my feet on the pedals, I feel all hunched and
long-limbed, a foreign sensation for someone of my height (or lack thereof), yet
with my feet on the ground, my tip-toes just barely reach, so I feel like a ten
year-old again, short and wimpy and tunelessly singing Safety Dance under my
Also, and I'll say this twice: Ow, my ass.
OW. MY ASS.
I don't remember bike-riding being quite this
painful. Years of upholstered furniture must have spoiled my butt, because after
about thirty seconds, my hinder is in a ridiculous amount of pain.
Still, it's fun! It's a beautiful day, and I
ride around the neighborhood, wind in my hair, cramps in my thighs, shooting
pains in my chest, sweat in my eyes, ache in my ass...
Riding along on the sidewalk at a brisk pace, I
see an absolute vision: jogging towards me is a slim, blonde, attractive, Anna
Kournikova-esque woman. My mind kicks into full fantasy mode, and I imagine us
making eye contact, stopping, smiling, talking, until she finally slips her
smooth, tanned arms around my waist, holds me close, picks me up, and carries me
to the emergency room, where they inject morphine directly into my butt.
Of course, none of this happens (I'm kind of
surprised that my mind even bothers cooking up fantasies after twenty-eight
years of not a single one coming to fruition). What does happen is that the
slowest, chubbiest squirrel I've ever seen darts in front of my bike. Well, not
darts so much as lumbers. He kind of sits there, then waddles off in exactly the
same direction I am going, only I'm going about twenty miles per hour faster
than he is, and I'm taking up less space on the sidewalk. To avoid crashing into
the woman, who doesn't even bother to look at me, and to avoid crashing into
(and perhaps becoming pinned under) the squirrel, I yank the handle bars to the
right, go off the curb and ride directly into heavy traffic.
Ah! Yes! Now it all comes back! The thrill of
dodging and weaving through traffic, zipping around speeding cars and frustrated
drivers. By thrill, I mean unbridled fear, of course, and I'm more wobbling and
praying than zipping and weaving.
Still, it's like being a kid again!
Especially the pants-wetting.