On Monday, the sunshine poisoned me with an idea: I want a bike. That’s not just a strange thought for me; it’s like I’ve gone bat shit crazy. I haven’t been on a bike in fifteen years. I don’t do Outdoors. I avoid UV rays like they’re mayonnaise. As a result, I am so white that I make porcelain look tan. However, I suddenly wanted a bike.
So I went online, and within thirty minutes of my impulse to ride, I had Auntie Amazon hooking me up with some wheels. Now, because I haven’t been on a bike since I was knee-high to a grasshopper (oh, all right, that’s not fair; I’m still knee-high to a grasshopper), I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to like it. After all, this was born of a whim. So I put my reasoning prowess to work and formed a plan.
I’d like tell you that I’m usually smart with money, but that’d be a big fat lie. I spend like death's upon me. Instead, I’ll tell you that, in my typical fiscally reckless fashion, I came up with this idea: as an experiment, I would order the most inexpensive cruiser I could find, knowing that there's a good chance it'd be crummy. If it turned out that I enjoyed riding a bike, I’d give that test bike away and upgrade to a good one. Instead of rashly purchasing a bike, even a cheap one, could I have borrowed someone else’s wheels to see if my whim was nothing more than hormones? Sure. But that would have been money smart, and I don’t operate like that. (Though I am strongly considering wanting to start behaving that way.)
The bike came in a box. I had to put on the front wheel, the front fender, handlebars, the seat, and the pedals. Sounds simple enough, yes? Well, it took me three hours—not because it was complicated, but because putting shit together ain’t my in wheelhouse. I know people who’d have been happy to lend a hand and make the process go faster. But that too ain’t in my nature. Recently my ma pointed out that I like to do things the hard way, that I seek out challenges. I disputed. She provided plenty of examples. And I have just added another to her list. I wanted to put the bike together all by my onesie. I wanted to do it because I didn’t know how. The directions that came in the box were for a different bicycle, so those things were worthless. All I had were the parts, my tool kit, and these wits. And three hours after perching on my garden stool in front of the disconnected bits, I circled the block on my pale turquoise cruiser bike, decked with a rattan basket hooked to the handlebars for transporting Sophie. (An idea about which she is less than enthusiastic.)
If you haven’t been on a bike in a decade and a half, those first few feet on two wheels are pretty damn shaky and you might find yourself alarmed to consider that you’re the only person to ever defy that common adage, “It’s just like riding a bike . . . ” But, as it turns out, after a couple minutes, riding a bike is just like riding a bike. You pick it back up in no time.