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Diff'rent Spokes

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 race ever.

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! For now.

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 breath.

Also, and I'll say this twice: 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.