My darling mixte bicycle. When I think of Cilantro, it’s flush of fond memories of pure freedom of movement, of just being able to hop onto the bike and with nothing more than just my feet pressed against pedals. Then I was off.
I miss the rides, the fresh, chilled air rushing over my cheeks. I miss knowing where I was, where I wanted to go and how to get there. I miss the long aimless rides with no destinations except to go.
Many minutes, hours, days were spent trying to satiate my year-long bottled-up lust during my first month back in Portland. It was all the things I missed while I lived in the countryside of Huarong. My body surged with lust when I thought about boys, a toasty sandwich, listening to a new record, sleeping in a real bed with a warm flannel comforter, riding my bike in a dress- among other things. I was prepared to be overwhelmed with excitement for all of the above, but I didn't expect to lust after OPB, other people's bikes.
My love for Basil is well documented, but as with all relationships, we're growing apart. More specifically, I've outgrown her. I'm not a medical anamoly and have hit a a gigantic growth spurt in my late 20's, it's that I'm more confident in my riding and can get on a big kid bike now.
I was on my way home from delivering gig posters in SE when a strong gust of wind almost knocked me sideways as I trudged up 36th. Basil was slowing down, I thought it was because of the wind blowing at us. I hung my head low and checked out the back tire as I pedaled up a small hill and noticed that it was widening out over the pavement.
This is Basil's first flat.
If this happened yesterday, I would have been a mess. I've been fogged down by an alien funk as of late. But today, with its subdued grey skies and tree-shaking winds, I'm finally clearing out the haze. If Basil needs to be handicapped by a flat tire, I'm glad it happened today.
An hour before my Green Noise shift, I was waiting for the 75 bus when a young woman asked me the time. She said that she liked my yellow “I [HEART] DRINKING BEERS AND LISTENING TO RECORDS” button that was stuck to my iPod case.
“Oh thanks,” I said. “Do you want one?”
I lifted the flap of my bag and there was a hot pink version of the same pin stuck on a pocket.
I didn't get her name, but she told me that she's a transplant from NYC and has lived in Portland for a year and a half. We talked about how much we effin' love this town and music we listened to when we were kids.
If Basil didn't have that flat back tire, I would've never given this girl an awesome button for her bag.
It's hard to see the silver lining when the sky is blanketed by one massive sheet of dingy cotton, but its there if you look hard enough.
Who says these things that people say that other people say? Who are they and how did they become so wizened in the intricacies of life that people are now quoting their ideologies and practicalities?
People say that you never forget how to ride a bike, but I don't know what the margin of years is for someone to be able to remember. Is there a time limit between bike rides that would disqualify one from rebutting this saying.
“Fuck that. I hadn't ridden a bike since before they 'nvented the microwave. But you're not supposed to ever forget that shit, right? Then what the fuck is this? I hop on that piece of shit that's been takin' up all that space in my god dang garage. I just done fell right over and skinned my knees. Debbie said I shouldn't be wearing my camo shorts anyway, cause it's so dang cold. But you know what? I'll wear these god dang shorts if I want to cause I done paid for them and they're comfortable and who the heck is she to tell me what to wear, like she knows how cold my freakin' legs get? Fuck that.”
Two years ago when I moved to Portland, I re-learned how to pedal after a day of running into truck fenders and being terrified of cars inches from me and my bare t-shirt arms. Eventually, I became comfortable with two-ton sedans cruising next to me as I was perched atop a vinyl bike seat and two 24″ wheels. You can even ask Gus, who's been bike commuting for the past 10 years, about my improvement. But while the two of your are discussing the varied ways in which I have become a more competent commuter, don't remind him about the night that I toppled over twice on our way home, or how I tipped into a bush on the sidewalk tonight. Just kinda gloss over that.
I'm a fine rider, my legs have increased strength and stamina. I bet I could train for that winter olympic sport where the ladies ski real fast and have big ol' thighs. It's unfortunate that I can't ski though. My gears are at their highest and I can't remember the last time I had to adjust them while riding. Basil, my 1985/6 Specialized Rock Hopper, has had her bike seat raised four inches. This would have seemed impossible a year and a half ago when I needed to be as close to the pavement as possible as that kept me from falling too far.
While Basil's raised seat post has also helped my riding efficiency, it has also rendered my body unable to properly dismount my own bike. Especially if I'm breaking in a new pair of jeans that are so tight I can barely lift my leg over the back tire to get on Basil. That's the night Gus watched me lean over onto the sidewalk. Twice.
His caterpillar eyebrows bunched to the center of his forehead as he slowly shook his head in a combination of concern and disgust.
Tonight, in a state of mixed inebriation, I tried to avoid stopping at a red light by moving slowly towards the crosswalk so that I could catch the green. I was going too slow and wasn't prepared to stop Basil and wobbled into a tall hedge. The sun hadn't yet set completely, I'm sure someone sitting idly in their waiting car caught a glimpse of my biking incoherence.
I wasn't even wearing ass-tight jeans this time, I just fumbled.
When I reached home, I forced myself to practice getting off my bike. Just as I re-familiarized myself with getting on, I had to also remind myself how to get off it.
Basil and I cruised up and down Center street a half dozen times. I picked out curbside landmarks as stop points. The front fender of the white truck, a tree trunk, the end of that driveway. I stopped thinking about the placement of my legs, which muscles should be tense or relaxed, how I should position my body. I just stopped thinking and stopped.
My right leg stretched out and was stiff against the metal pedal, I lifted my jeans off the seat. The left pedal was at its highest point with my leg close into my body. My fingers squeezed the brakes slowly and Basil paused with a slight jerk. My left leg intuitively landed on the ground with Basil leaning into it. Perfect.
“Muscle memory. Muscle memory,” I kept telling myself and I kept dismounting without stumbling towards the road.
Does anyone ever say that you never forget how to get off a bike? Whoever said that ain't wrong.
Going south in the middle of the road on SE 52nd, I'm waiting for cars to pass so that I can turn left. I glance at my mirror and see that traffic is moving steadily towards me from behind and I decide to get out of the road before the rush of big cars passes me. I turn left, in front of two cars. It was a slow move, not like quick cut-off and the car approaching north in front of me just slowed down and I made it fine. However, the car behind wasn't so pleased.
It was a late model sedan with all the windows rolled down heading north as I kept going west out of his view. It's irate driver honked aggressively at me and I turned back to see him shaking his fist angrily like I just ran over a nest of baby birds. He was an older white man, obviously empowered with the authority to tell me when I've wronged the rules of the road. His older white female companion sulked low in the passenger seat and looked at me blankly.
I was so discombobulated from the jarring honk that I became disoriented. It spooked me. I lost control for a second and my brain blanked and I forgot how to brake. I crashed into the grassy end of a sidewalk. My right shoulder and knee took the hit, and my helmeted head bounced lightly off the dirt. I got back up immediately, making sure that the mad-driver-dude hadn't seen me crash because I didn't want him to have that satisfaction. I imagine that a dude like that would have enjoyed seeing me stumble onto the sidewalk. I looked down the street and he was already gone.
My blue t-shirt had a slight grass stain, and when I rolled up my right sleeve I could feel the sting on my shoulder. I was mostly concerned about my wing because tattoos hurt, and getting one touched up because I retardedly crashed into the street would be no fun. Luckily, much of the scrape was right above the wing.
Moral of the story: next time a dude honks and shakes his fist at me, I ought to just flip him off and pedal as fast as I can.
Filed under: Bike Bike
When I sustained my knee injury in February I grew very depressed over the fact that I was not going to run ever again. I had no idea that I was doing that type of damage to my body, but what was I thinking?! I mean, when I was in high school I detested running and thought it to be the most inane activity ever. Where the hell are you running to? Nowhere! But a few years ago I grew to love it, and the physical exertion that was involved. It feels like every muscle in your body is contacting when your run. I thought it was a lot like boxing, another sport that I love but ultimately can't participate in because of my weak wrists.
I have since retired my (very expensive) running shoes and for a while I was at a lost as to what to do instead. I'm the type of the person who needs to release energy physically or else I begin to feel sluggish and like some sort of pre-Subway-eating Jared. Finally, I realized that what I needed was right in front of me the entire time, all over Portland- one of the most two-wheeled friendly cities around: biking.
It was quite the mission to find a bike that fit me right, considering that I have no noticeable inseam to speak of. After weeks of looking and becoming so discouraged, I was the the Community Cycling Center I found Basil!
She's a 1986 Specialized Rock Hopper with 24″ wheels and a 16″ frame. A teensy thing for a teensy girl. I can actually carry it up and down stairs without the fear of the bike landing on top of me and impaling my eyeball. Whenever I lock my bike up beside to Gus's behemoth with 27″ wheels and a seat I can't even reach, he says, “It looks like my bike had a baby.”
Now I'm a certified bicycle commuter! I stopped buying a bus pass, for goodness sakes! I'm all like bikey-bikey and shit!
Well, this past Sunday I got in a minor wreck. Nothing huge, I didn't get a bruise or a scratch and only had a sore shoulder for a couple days and only Basil's back derailleur got knocked outta whack, but we're both totally okay. I was on my way home, not more than a block away, when a car pulled into a gas station and we just didn't see each other. The was a red light in my lane, so I couldn't see that car turning in amidst all of the stopped cars. I wasn't able to stop quickly enough and just rammed into the passenger door, popped off my seat, and then fell on my back.
I was so dazed and frazzled. I'd just crashed off my bike. The lady in the car ran out to ask if I was okay, and I told her I was fine when I was secretly thinking that my cooter was mighty sore from when my crotch hit the saddle on impact.
I looked at her with concern and asked, “Is your car okay?”
“I don't care about my car! Are you okay?!”
It was so completely LA it was of me to ask about her car! It was a 30-year-old hoopty-ass ride, but I just couldn't help but inquire. Born and raised in car culture!
Aside from this minor wreck and tearing holes in the crotch of my jeans from riding, everything else has been all buttery flies and cheesecakes! And my bike butt is so sweet!