Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Biker Blues

Well. The weather's warming up, and it's almost time to get my bike out of the storage shed. This winter I didn't get it put away in time before it snowed, but I juiced it up real good with WD-40 so it wouldn't rust too bad. As you can tell already I'm not a bike aficionado or a dedicated biker by any means, but still I used to bike around quite a lot.

Before this one I had an old ten-speed with knobby tires that I rescued after someone had thrown it out in the trash. It was the worst bike in the world. The front fork was bent so it didn't track right. The seat wouldn't tighten up, and the brakes didn't work even after I fixed them. In fact, the only redeeming feature of this two-wheeled wonder was the fact that it didn't have any, and I didn't have to worry about anybody stealing it.

I used to snicker at the chumps with their $600 mountain bikes at the bike racks, wrapping them up with yards and yards of tow chain and Fort Knox-like padlocks. "Look at this," I told them, "if you had a piece of junk like mine you wouldn't need all this security!" Wherever I went I would just hop off and lean the bike up against the closest wall. Talk about freedom. It was great. No messing around with bike racks and combination locks. Then one hot summer afternoon I came out of Barnes and Noble, and lo and behold, it was gone.

I was in shock. I couldn't believe that anyone would ever want such a thing. I walked down the sidewalk a ways and found the old vinyl bag that I had looped around the handlebars to tote a water bottle in. Then I looked up, and far off in the distance, way at the end of the parking lot, I spotted a kid pedaling away like crazy on my bike. I remember thinking, this either must be one desperate kid or one totally lacking in self-respect. If he ever shows off his new acquisition to his friends they'll laugh his butt off. Then I thought, geez, I hope he doesn't need to stop real quick.

I eventually replaced the stolen wreck with a 10-speed Walmart $35 on-sale special, or 15-speed, or whatever it is, but then I installed a pair of those old twin newspaper baskets that I got off another old bike in a dumpster. Now my new bike is so heavy it takes a couple hundred yards before I can get up enough speed to shift into third gear.

I know it's the green thing to be biking around. But think of this, the more you bike, the more calories you burn, the more you have to eat, the more food you consume, the more gas the tractors and combines have to burn to feed you, so it all evens out. Maybe I won't get it out of the shed this summer after all.