A bicycle built for me?


Sometimes we have this moment where we “think” we should do something. Then we shake our heads realizing it’s beyond our grasp or capability. But I’m stubborn. I think I can do anything. If I could ride a bike as a kid, it seemed a natural assumption that I could do the same now.

So one day when I say to my husband, “I think I want to buy a bike.” He just looks at me.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You see, my husband is what I call a ‘processor.’ He doesn’t always reply immediately. It may take him days. In fact, it’s probably one of his most redeeming qualities. For example, imagine if I said what many wives ask their husbands “Do you think I look fat in this?” Like most men, my husband would have to give the obligatory, emphatic answer “NO!”?

But not my husband. He would mutter “no” under his breath. Later he might ask “why would you say that?” Then he would analyze it some more. Then he would say “I don’t know why you would think that.” Translation: “No, you don’t look fat in that.” In the end, somehow, I feel that he has taken my question seriously because he has taken time to process the question and analyze it.

So, what does that have to do with a bike? Well, remember, I told him that I was “thinking” about buying a bike. A few days later he looked at me and said, “I can’t see you riding a bike.”

Why not? I think. I can do this. I want to do this. I think about it for a few days then, suddenly, one afternoon I was working at my desk, and I shot up on my feet, went out and drove to a store that sold bikes.

I stood there, looking at the bikes chained outside and panicked. “What do I ask for?” When I was a kid they looked at your height and said “this is the right size for you.” And I said “I like the pink one.” And away we went.

But this is the 21st century. There are 10 to 21 to God-Knows-What speeds. There’s mountain and…to heck with it. I stop procrastinating and walk though the door.

Wouldn’t you know it. He’s young, cute, with an armful of colorful and cool tattoos. I wander in and start looking at the bikes. He follows me. “Can I help you?”

“I, err, I want to buy a bike,” I mumble, hoping he doesn’t laugh at me.

“What are you looking for?” he asks matter-of-factly, adding, “Will you be riding this casually?”

“Yes,” I reply, nodding emphatically. That’s what I want.

He shows me a few models. We talk about price point and sizes of the bikes. He takes me outside and unchains one of them.

“You need to try it out,” he says.

Are you kidding me? Ride a bike in front of you? Can I even remember how to pedal?

“Well, I’m a bit rusty,” I say.

“You won’t know what to get unless you try it,” he gently prods.

After I admit I don’t know much about the gears he shows me how to work them, in a simple easy-to-understand way. He tells me to go with my gut. Does it feel right? Is it comfortable?

I hop on and ride around the parking lot, hoping I don’t fall down and make a fool of myself. My stop is less than pristine. He shows me a few ways to make the stops easier. We decide the bike is too small for me. He goes inside and gets another one. We do the test again. I feel more comfortable this time. He isn’t laughing. I can do this! We settle on that bike, which happens to be on sale – BONUS!

Just to ensure that I look like a complete dork I ask if they have bike baskets. I mean, if I’m going to take this seriously I’ll ride it to the store and where will I put my purchases? Lucky for me he doesn’t laugh.

“We have lots,” he says. I pick out a wire basket. They install it. I pay for it. He takes it to my car and shows me how to remove the front wheel so it will fit in the trunk. I do it several times, afraid I will forget how to do it when I get home and then I’ll have this bike without a front wheel on it just sitting in my garage. I get it home and manage to put it together. I park it in the corner and pet it a bit.

Then I have this wave of guilt. What was I thinking? I just bought this bike.

More to come…

7 responses »

  1. You go Suzanne! That’s awesome. And you know what? You CAN do anything that you put your mind to. Well, almost anything. I am still trying to work on fixing a broken spring on my lawn mower, hanging some wall art on a stair well that is way over my head and wrapping my head around refinishing my floor. But I changed a light bulb that I thought I would have to dismantle the whole light to access today and then climbed up on my roof to hammer in my eaves trough nails that were loose. I am sure my neighbours had dialed 9-1- and were just waiting for the thud to hit the last 1, but no dice today. :)

    I bet you look super snazzy on your new wheels. Congrats!


  2. Way to go, Suzanne, and boy, can I relate!

    I hate to admit it, but Reg (my husband) and I bought bikes 2 years ago and they still sit in the shed … unridden.

    We thought it would be great to have bicycles as we live at the lake and see people riding bikes all the time. But Reg’s health took a deep turn for the worse after we’d bought those bikes and therefore my own rec time was limited. When I had time for exercise or leisure, I was heading to Curves … or Zumba. And I love walking, so the odd time, I walk to the store for the mail, etc.

    Anyway, sorry to hear you’d have a bit of a rocky start to your reconnection with the bike. I hope all your falls are behind you now, and good luck. Maybe Bob will even be inspired to join you!


  3. My bike is rusty too. I have an expensive mt bike that I am dying to get on once the kids are out of their training wheels… and we can ride to the Waltzing Weasel for mini putt! How sad to not use the bike to its full potential…


  4. Isn’t that just the most exhilarating feeling in the world?! I guess I’ve been fortunate to have experienced that rush three times in my life: learning to ride for the first time, first touring bike (http://www.darrellnoakes.com/bicycling/tours/firsttime/index.htm), first recumbent (http://www.darrellnoakes.com/bicycling/tours/kidagain/index.htm). About once or twice a summer, I have the opportunity to help an adult learn to ride for the first time. Wow, it’s amazing and rewarding to see the joy on their faces when they first experience the freedom of riding on their own.


  5. Thanks to all for your comments. Sorry to hear your bikes aren’t being used, Doreen. Hoping Reg’s health will improve. Bob had a bike. He is all or nothing. He would bike all over the city. Then he let his bike collect dust (as did I with my previous bike I got in the 70s). But I can do this without him. It’s a nice solitary way to get exercise, listen to my MP3 songs and check out the world without windows and metal blocking me from the trees and car exhaust (o.k. there are some downsides).


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