I had a great radio show tonight with Bonnie Jones Reynolds-so check out that podcast when you get time. But back on the Gia front, I’m back to the bike kick.
The bike…oh man this is getting more and more painful, and here knowledge is supposed to be power! I had just about made up my mind that I would go with the Tonino Lamborghini Leggenda, which I could get new for about $200 from Sam’s Club or Sports Authority. Yes, I know both places don’t meet with much approval from the bike cliques, but its enough bike to enter into a basic program with, and it’s not pushing the envelope of my price point too far. I want to get in shape and lose weight, but it has to be more than just my wallet!
But once again, I had to scan bike forum pages, and once again, there were the negative comments about the Lamborghini bikes, which are apparently made by Kent, a producer of all fine bicycles sold in places like Walmart. I was seeing it as a step up from the steel frame Huffys and Schwinns sold there, as it has an aluminum frame, a better sized frame for my height, and was a much more likely fit for me. The problem is that there is not one on display anywhere in New Orleans, so I will be forced to buy it sight unseen and butt-untried. That makes me nervous, I couldn’t even reach the ground on the Schwinn woman’s bike I sat on at Walmart, and I seriously think my days of running starts/stops are over with–I need to be able to touch the ground while seated on the seat, period. The forums kept insisting that there were great Trek bikes at entry level prices not much higher. Unfortunately, “not much higher” is still over double what the Lamborghini will run.
I started to wonder, was this lack of interest in spending more on the bike related to a lack of interest in committing myself to the goal of riding it and acquiring skill & fitness as a result? Maybe. Just maybe. I’ve examined myself quite critically for this “flaw” of character, to see if I’m going to buy it and expect results by osmosis and admiring the bike. I’ve thought about the painful logistics of getting the bike to and from the street to ride it–not easy, locks & gates, etc. stand between me and the world. There is some fear factor, I have never ridden a bicycle with cars whizzing by continually at 45 mph+ before, and I suspect that will be unnerving at first. There is little margin for error in Jefferson Parish & New Orleans for a bicyclist-no bike lanes. In addition, it seems that it is normally open season on pedestrians with the cars–New Orleans supposedly has an unusually high rate of hit & runs involving pedestrians, and rumor has it that bicyclists are just regarded as fast pedestrians by that crowd. Really unnerving. Bicycle theft rates are high, as always in an urban/suburban area, and bike locks need to be sturdy, and removable gear removed. I can handle that too. We have potholes that can break car axles, and some qualify as more of a pit than a pothole. I’ll have to learn to safely navigate the dreadful roads, especially in residential areas where road repairs are as rare as snow storms.
I really don’t think I’m as eager to try out a bicycle on the city streets as I am to attain a level of competency that will let me explore outside of the city. I want to try out this idea I have of bicycle camping as a between stage of back packing and car camping. I want to slow down and smell the roses while I ride down country roads. On a bicycle, I can explore three to five times as much ground per hour with the same effort as I do on foot, maximizing my leisure time while still switching gears from the “hurry up and have fun” mindset.
If I do things like using the bicycle when I’m doing non-essential shopping, I can squeeze in some training time while ensuring I don’t buy things that take up too much space and I have too little need for, while still being able to carry home that great buy on a new tent…
Greg is not crazy about this new kick of mine. I’m not sure why, whether he thinks I’ll get over it as fast as I got over the exercise bicycle (it was given to me, and three minutes on it had my head pounding as the gears screamed.) or if he’s afraid of accidents/injuries, both of which are a real threat to our financial security. I’ll admit, encounters of the too close kind with cars and dogs are why I quit riding bicycles about 25 years ago after the last trip to the ER on a Friday evening. When I mentioned this idea to my daughter, she inquired how long it had been since I had last rode, and beyond the occasional spin to prove I still could, I guess its been about 12 yrs since the last time I borrowed her bike for a quick run to the bank & post office on occasion. My butt is considerably wider (along with the rest of me) than it was then, so I’m pretty sure the stock seat of whatever bike I end up choosing is going to need replaced with one designed more for the senior crowd than a racing enthusiast.
I have decided on a hybrid bike, rather than a cruiser or a mountain bike. Granted, mountain bikes have tougher frames and wheels in general, but they also have a shorter frame length and the position of the rider is slightly leaning forward with their feet directly under them pedaling. The hybrid bikes move the pedals slightly forward (usually) and have a slightly longer (not taller) frame. They too have sturdy wheels, but lack the knobby tires preferred by mountain bikers. They also often have suspension frames or seats, whereas the hybrid usually doesn’t. Suspension sounds good, but…at the same time, even when riding a bad country road, the rest of me is not up to bouncing over really rough ground. I’m too old to want to risk falling. I’m afraid of falling going over stuff like that. I know I don’t heal as fast as I used to. I know it will take less time to walk the bike through or around than it will to scrape myself up off the dirt if I take a fall too. So it takes me an extra 5 minutes to do this thirty yard stretch–at least when I get through that stretch, I am going to still be physically capable of getting back on!
Maybe that’s what the bike thing is all about. Its about knowing that I have nothing to prove to anyone, and I can take my sweet time getting there, and if someone doesn’t like it, they can go on without me. If my heart starts to pound, and my legs are screaming for mercy, I don’t have to keep on going. I know how to stop, take a few deep breaths, a swig of lukewarm water, let my pounding chest find the normal setting again, and set off all over again. Touring bicyclists may average thirty miles an hour, I don’t have to. I can do thirty yards in an hour if I want to. What matters to me is that I enjoy that time, not that I meet anyone else’s standards.
I don’t have to wear tight bicycling shorts and skin tight tank tops that advertise the fact that I have lots of shapes to coordinate as I ride…I can wear whatever the heck I want! If I want to bicycle wearing capris topped with a peasant skirt, while wearing a polka dotted t-shirt under my plaid flannel shirt, that is my God-given right to do so. I can wear a tall hat and get a wicker basket to match that of the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz if it so suits me. I can be as peculiar as I like!
Oh the beauty of middle age. Finally, I get a chance to really embarrass my daughter! I should start assembling this wonderful wardrobe for the eccentric woman riding the purple bicycle…
pointed ankle boots, preferably black & scruffy looking
striped socks, nice loud colored ones
black capris, (I have those)
wildly patterned brightly colored tiered peasant skirt (i’ll have to figure out a good way to hitch it up on the chain side so it stays clear of it.)
insanely striped loud t-shirts, long and short sleeved, something in perhaps, oh, purple and orange?
the largest most outrageous hat ever seen on a woman, nice bright colors, strange large decorations, but not too heavy, needs a chin strap for windy days too.
Remember Pippi Longstocking? My hair is nicely silver colored now, but I think it would be wonderful to put it into pigtail braids and then add a fine wire to ensure they stick out at the appropriate angles, utterly and completely defying gravity in a way the rest of me never shall manage again, wire or not. (Unless the anti-gravity bra is invented soon!)
Oh yes, wouldn’t she be thrilled to see me come bicycling down the road to her house in that get up?
(Insane evil laughter caused by inherited insanity [i got it from my daughter] as I contemplate this evil plan.)
Yes, middle age is wonderful, but being eccentrically odd is even MORE fun!