So. Many. Things.
When we last left this great adventure, I was off my bike on injury, coming back slowly. That has resolved itself. I am back, and have been for weeks, training strong and sighing with sadness every Friday night as the invites for cool outings roll in, and I decline, citing my 5am wake-up time. In the time since I have been here last, I completed my first century, pushed myself to the point of throwing up (goddamn you, heat stroke), rode for the first time in Marin, and have reveled many times in the wonder of what my body is now capable of doing.
One thing I have been surprised by these last few weeks, has been the joy of riding my
town bike. As you may or may not remember, I started this blog well before buying a road bike. For the first two years of cycling, I was exclusively tied to a 35 pound, upright hybrid bike. Seriously, this shit is tantamount to riding a cruiser. Once it gets momentum, its like coasting down a flat highway. In a Cadillac. But losing that momentum sucks ass in a major way, and when the bike went down with a repeating flat that dogged me through three patch jobs, two new tubes, and a bike shop’s attempt to repair whatever was happening, I sort of gave up on this bike and all of its bullshit. I have been toying with the idea of selling it for months, realizing more and more that it is impractical to my needs now, but I have consistently been unable to do it. This was my first bike, its what I owe everything to even still, and I cannot part with it. After riding in CycloFemme 2013, I have started considering getting another town bike, and putting an xtracycle attachment on this one, making it the house cargo bike. The reality of this idea has yet to be seen.
My road bike, who you have probably not met offically, is a Specialized Dolce Comp. Her name is Polly Pulverizer, and she is cooler than you. Polly is my ALC bike, and one I have become accustomed to riding all the time. She has spoiled me so badly that I sometimes feel tired just thinking about riding my other bike, despite my legs being stronger than they have ever been. Ever.
But Polly makes guest appearances in the world – she is not a bike I lock up. I have taken her to bike party once or twice, realizing only later that I was plagued by paranoia when she was not in sight. Plus, dancing in cleats is sort of a bitch. I also really like having two working bikes – I like having a loaner around, not to mention that Polly is not well suited to grocery shopping or carrying beer to a picnic in a pannier.
Last week, I was looking through the Bike Month calendar for the bay area, and saw all sorts of cool things going on, which made me realize that if I wanted to feel fully mobile, I needed to fix my hybrid bike in a bad way. I needed a bike that could haul my shit, handle the punishment of Oakland and Berkeley roads, and that could get locked up wherever I went without my brain exploding from anxiety. So, I spent a long afternoon in the back yard diagnosing, sanding, fixing, patching, testing and, eventually, winning the day! My hybrid bike is back, and I am surprised again and again by how much I realize I missed it.
I ride my bikes very differently. Polly is a hill climbing monster – she brings a new life to my legs that I have long since learned not to question. The aggressive parts of myself are brought to the forefront by Polly – she’s like that friend who talks tons of shit, but always in the service of getting you to push yourself. She’s way too cool for school, smokes in the boys room, and wears clothes your parents would disapprove of. My other bike, who has no name, is different. That bike wears short flowy skirts, loves farmers markets, hates helmet hair, and often has a flower behind her ear. Hauling ass is not her perogative, she has nowhere she needs to be right this second, and she thinks hills are pretty from far away.
Both bikes are a reflection of who I am. Which might be why I cannot bear to get rid of my hybrid. The same will be true when the time comes that I have outgrown Polly, my first ever road bike. Likely, they will be with me until they no longer work (though, by then, I will hopefully be a bike repair goddess, and will keep them running for a long, long time) – I will be the cycling version of a crazy cat lady with rooms of my house given over to this love.
I went to a movie in Oakland last night, and my housemate, who rode down with me, decided to BART home. I stood at the top of the steps, and contemplated hauling my heavy ass hybrid bike up and down all those stairs, and thought no. no way. why the hell would I get on a train, when I have two wheels and some lights?. So I left my housemate to his BART ride, and biked myself back to Berkeley on night-quiet streets, keeping to major ones as much as I could. I realize that not only is the light better, but taking a whole lane and being all alone on streets that normally push me into the margins (or worse, the door zone) validates all of the near misses, stop signs, red lights, frustration, and anxiety of being an urban cyclist. I am slowed by this heavy bike of mine – forced not into the drops, but into lower gears, sitting upright, in a dress, on a wind-free night, cruising through the still air – able to take in the trees, the art, the new restaurant I want to try. The world feels different from way up here, and now that I can remember this vantage point, and know that it is how I first encountered the world on a bike, I am very pleased to be back here.
*cover image courtesy of SF Girl By Bay