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.

3 comments:

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.