06 August 2008

Street ridin' man

I got a bike.

bike. I haz it.

Not sure about the vintage, but it has the same running gear and looks a lot like a 1981 Motobécane Mirage... a solid old-school ten-speed, which is just what I wanted. If I start to really get into racing, I will probably have to consider a more serious investment, but for now this is a good bike for the city: tough enough to take the potholes and not a real enticing target for thieves.

Riding on city streets is something I have not done in a while, unless San Diego counts and it doesn't. Boston is a compact, chaotic city, with narrow streets and edgy drivers. There is literally unexpected shit going on every moment, in every quadrant, and I have to ride in a state of constant hyper-awareness and hair-trigger reactivity.

I love it.

Being on two wheels in the city means taking on a kind of outsider status. You are a nuisance, like dog shit on someone's shoe... that is, when you're not totally invisible. When you are in the saddle, jamming at twenty-five miles an hour down a busy street and scanning your environment like a coked-out paranoid, it's amazing how unconscious everyone else is. I am stunned at the number of pedestrians I rode around just yesterday who were completely unaware of the hurtling mass of a thirty-pound bike and 175-pound rider flying past. I can sense the hostility from drivers, even when they're not actively swearing at me. I even caught shit from another bicyclist, who hurled Lycra-wrapped imprecations at me for riding counter-flow on the Beacon Street bike lane, which is only on the outbound side of the street. Excuse me for wanting to survive the trip, Richard Simmons!

Anyway, I spent so much time on my bike yesterday that I totally forgot to move my car back into Brighton overnight, and picked up another Brookline ticket. Fuck. Sorry, GTI. I haven't forgotten about you... but you have to share my affections with another wheeled conveyance now.

A shout out to Bikes Not Bombs in the heart of Jamaica Plain, for good advice on the care and feeding of my weirdo French antique.

Start seeing bicycles. Please.


michelle of bleeding espresso said...

Congratulations! I know you're being careful, but still...be careful. I've seen those looks drivers give bikers. They are frightening.

Paul said...

Yeah, well I try to anticipate the craziest, most random thing a driver will do. But I am also considering buying a helmet - looking like a dork is a small price to pay for keeping your skull uncracked...

Brandon M. Farley said...

Well written!

I got rid of my bike 6 months ago b/c I never rode it; too many hills in San Diego! har har.