Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Unbearable Lightness of Biking

Friday the 27th, the most Glorious Day EVER in the history of mankind

After going for a swim in the arctic Lake Michigan, I head over to Bridget and Colleen’s to check out my potential loaner bike. I’m a bit cautious, having been burned before, and having a tendency to form quick judgments that assume goodness, giving the benefit of the doubt, and then being horribly wrong. I walk into their place, and in spite of my wariness, upon first seeing the Orbea, I gasp.

“Oooooooooh.......she’s.......she’s beautiful,” I say, practically swooning. Though attempting to look demure, my new bike is clearly a force to be reckoned with: a sleek, all-black warrior goddess, ready to shred up other cyclists as she stealthily slips past, leaving them all eating dust. Ready to ride like a bat out of hell – but the good kind, not the place D-POD inhabits.

We set her up, make adjustments, and Colleen urges me to take a spin around the block. I’m grinning as I return.

“She’s perfect,” I purr, lightly petting her top tube. “There, there sweetie,” I coo, “it’s okay, I’ll have you home again soon.” Clearly it was only through some cosmic error that we were cruelly separated, as this type of instant bonding doesn’t happen at whim. Bridget joins us in the parking lot behind their building.

“So,” she begins, “I was thinking......” Bridget stops suddenly, realizing that she’s speaking to a vapor trail, since I’ve already tucked my newly named Persephone (nickname: Precious) into my car and am long gone. As if I have time to stand around and chatter all day – there’s biking to do!

Monday, Memorial Day

The girls and I head out to Huntley for a long bike ride and then to barbecue at my mom’s. When we meet up out there, Bridget asks me if I’ve had a chance to ride Persephone, and I giggle. “Which day?” I ask. A historical note: during our ride, this is the first time ever that I’ve ever actually been asked to slow down while on a bike. The mind reels.

After our ride, I carefully place Precious away from everyone else’s bikes, safe from sudden movements and ham-handed oafish attempts by Other People to “check her out.” Hmph. As if. It’s when I’m putting the customary covering of bubble wrap around her that Bridget first starts to look a little worried. What, as if everyone doesn’t do this? Please. What kind of cretin doesn’t protect their own bike from wayward elements? I explain this to Bridget, whose brow is now starting to look permanently furrowed; I’m not sure why. Suddenly, Annette decides to check out my beautiful new bike, and starts walking over to her.

“Be careful!” I bark. “Don’t jostle my Precious; she’s not made of steel, you know.” Hmm, there goes Bridget with the brow thing again.

“Oh,” I continue, “I mean BRIDGET’S Precious, of course,” and smile disarmingly, breezily, reassuringly.

“Umm,” stammers Bridget, “that is....well....I...I might need a spare bike after all for.....for......the Beater Bike Classic – yeah, that’s it.....” she blurts out, with a crevice so deep across her forehead that you could probably find the Yeti in there.

Damn. Clearly I need to work on my falsely reassuring grin.

“I swear, anytime you want your bike back....” I trail off, with a chipper smile plastered on my face, speaking in what’s meant to be an encouraging manner so that Bridget can fill in the blanks with some appropriate kind of pablum, and so that I don’t have to speak the truth: good luck someday prying Precious from my cold dead fingers.

Later, we’re loading up the cars to head back into the city, and Annette winds up lurking dangerously close to Precious, apparently in some misguided attempt to help secure her to the car.

“Hullo!” I shriek. “Huzza.....What...wha.....” (I am practically speechless, sputtering)... “you were dangerously close to grabbing her stem with callous indifference! Please, a bit of care!” I say, wide-eyed and aghast. I finish on a slightly menacing, cautionary note, “You don’t want there to be repercussions, do you?”

Annette takes it all in stride, with that nonchalant, happy-go-lucky “g’day mate” South African attitude of hers, but Bridget looks a wee bit pale.

“Umm, Bridget, do you think you might be coming down with something?” I inquire, concerned. Poor dear should probably see a doctor – that nervous tic in her eye has really just come out of nowhere.