April 19, 2001
A Bicycle Built For Secra


Now David is trying to get me onto a bicycle.

I think he figures that since he's been successful at talking me into all of this other weird, foreign, *California stuff* since I moved here -- soy milk, Japanese language television, comfortable shoes, Pere Ubu, marriage -- then riding a bike is a perfectly logical next step.

The thing is: he may be right.

Actually, David's campaign to *Get Secra's Big Adorable Sedentary Butt Onto A Bike* began long before I ever moved to the Bay Area. Back in the days when we were still just a couple of online 'sobriety buddies' -- he in California, me in Oregon, racking up those nightly long-distance phone bills -- he used to regale me with stories of his bike-riding youth: how he and his buddies would ride their bikes from Walnut Creek to Berkeley and back every weekend, to look for records and pick up girls ... how he once rode all the way from San Francisco to Oregon, just for "fun" ... how he still went for occasional Sunday bike-rides along the Alameda Shoreline Trail with his kids.

"You ought to try it," he said. "Exercise is important to your recovery."

But I just couldn't see myself on a bike. How inelegant! How declasse! How junior high school! 

(How would I get my double-pepperoni-and-mushroom up the HILL?) 

And when I was able to close my eyes and imagine myself on a bike, it was a horrific vision, frankly. Me, sweaty and winded and hermetically-sealed into a pair of bicycle shorts ... bargaining with God to please hold off on that heart attack ("I will never ever take Your name in vain again, I swear to God") as I huff and puff my way up Beavercreek Road?

No thanks.

Not long after that, though, I became an official California Grrrl. Suddenly I started seeing bikes everywhere -- including the one parked in the middle of my KITCHEN (which I use as a pantyhose-drying rack, btw) -- and I began to realize that there was this whole amazing bike culture going on in the Bay Area that I never even knew existed. Especially in Alameda, which  --  in case some of you weren't aware of this  --  is an island, barely twelve square miles across. An extremely flat island, at that, with lots of picturesque shoreline, lots of tree-lined streets, lots of beautifully-maintained bike trails.

And lots of bike-riders.

But here's the thing. For the most part, these bike-riders were all just regular people. I think I was sort of expecting to see nothing but EdKaz Types, once I got here: lean, mean, biking machines with 'tude and tans and perfect hair. Instead, I saw big people and little people and medium-sized people, tooling around Alameda on bikes. When we were driving to work in the mornings, I saw parents bicycling their plaid-clad children to the Catholic school. I saw elderly Asian-American gentlemen on bicycles, and young pregnant women, and businessmen in suits and ties and backpacks. 

Once I saw a fat drunk guy dressed as Santa Claus, weaving his way down Lincoln Avenue on a Schwinn that looked older than *he* was.

In other words: they were mostly regular people of all sizes, shapes, ages and coordination levels. An overweight middle-aged woman with bad hair and broken sunglasses, pedalling in their midst, would barely raise an eyebrow, probably.

It's taken me a while to come around, I'll admit ... but for the past three or four months -- ever since David and I got engaged, and we both got serious about losing weight and getting into shape -- I have been quietly entertaining the notion of getting a bike. It actually looks like fun. Plus it looks like the sort of exercise *I* can participate in without hurting myself (much). David is ecstatic, of course. He's convinced that the whole thing was his idea. (And I'm going to allow him to continue thinking that way ... just because it's fun to see him all proud and puffed-up and full of himself.) This weekend we have decided that we're going to go out and do a little preliminary bike-shopping ... just to see what's out there, what I can afford, what fits, etc.

It might take us a little while to find the right bicycle for me ... and then we'll have to sort of ease into the program, gradually ... but I'm already feeling really excited and really optimistic about the whole idea.

I'm gonna have to insist on a few *rules* here, though:

  • NO Spandex!
  • NO banana seats!
  • NO "Markleyville Death Ride!"
  • NO ten-speeds! No twenty-speeds! No "SPEEDS," period! (I never learned to drive a stick shift, either.)
  • I'm fine with a helmet ... as long as it has Hello Kitty! stickers plastered all over it. 
  • I just want a plain, ordinary, old-fashioned GIRLS bike ... minus the "hurty bar," which I've never been able to swing my leg over without bruising something delicate. Like my dignity.
  • One of those little baskets on the front of the bike would be nice. That way I'd have a place to carry my coffee and my purse and my laptop.
  • One of those little bicycle horns would be nice, too: the kind that goes "ah-OOOO-gah," nice and loud, when you squeeze the rubber bulb. I could pedal down the block to Car Alarm Guy's house, around 2 a.m. or so, and park my bike outside his bedroom window, and "accidentally" blast my bicycle horn two or three or eighty-six times in a row.
  • (On second thought -- let's just install a CAR ALARM on my BIKE! That way I can get revenge on Upstairs Neighbor Guy AND Tone-Deaf Karaoke Girl too, while I'm at it.)
  • Does anyone know if they still make velocipedes?
  • I would consider one of those fancy-pants recalcitrant bikes -- the kind where you ride laying down -- except I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to see over my boobs.
  • I would consider a bicycle-built-for-two ... as long as David and I can ride it around in front of the Tots, whenever they're here visiting. Preferably while we're both wearing matching Hawaiian shirts and propeller beanies.

And no matter what happens ... whether this bike thing turns out to be a stupendous success (see: Bed Picnic Bruschetta) or another one of those *great ideas* that starts out big and then just sort of fizzles off into nothing (see: the Christmas piano, breast reduction surgery, writing the BOOK) ... I'm not going to park my bike in the fudking kitchen.

One pantyhose rack in this apartment is enough.

one year ago: discreetly fluffy hugs

throw a rock