When we met three weeks ago, it was love at first sight. I had seen a picture online, but nothing compared to the real thing. A subtle beauty, bathed in matte teal, with adjustments from Sam at the bike shop, my aluminum friend and I were ready for acquainting. I gripped the handlebars and delivered a downward force on the pedal. Gears turned, wheels moved and sparks flew. I rode through the quad, and down that first hill to the THs. As I coasted, the sound of the clicking pawls was like a love song.
I’ll have you know this isn’t my first time around the block. I’ve been playing the field since I was five. My wooing style is pretty classy, but also adventurous. When I was seven, I tried to see how fast I could ride around in a small circle. I learned that my enthusiasm was unrequited once my bike abruptly slid out from under me, giving me my first ankle sprain. Ah, to be young.
Before that, when I was maybe four, I wanted to ride my uncle’s bike with him—yes, the two of us, together, on an old single-person bike, in rural India. This displeased the machine. The next thing I know, the pedal is somehow gashed into the side of my ankle, there’s blood on the earth and turmeric paste smeared all over my foot. Ask to see my scar, it’s pretty (and once you see it, you can decide which way to take this word:) sick.
You’d think I’d work out my balance issues and try to be less pushy in these bike relationships, I should have had it figured out by age 14 or 15? No, no. I’m 18, freshly adult and feeling feisty, speeding atop the thrilling flat land in suburban Indiana. I go for the turn …aaand, fetal position on the concrete. My bike sits calmly by on its side, the back wheel still moving in mockery. I defeatedly walk home and tell my mom I fell off my bike. She reaches for the turmeric and the memories come flooding back, just like my blood!
I met a new bike last year. For a mere 20 dollars at my neighbor’s garage sale, I got a gorgeous green cruiser with a basket. I could finally put my iPod somewhere instead of between my thumb and the handlebar break. I’d take it on long evening rides. We discovered a new, secluded path together. One with lush greenery and rolling hills, manicured to please the Holiday Inn residents and Corporate Plaza workers. I’d put on some nice medieval harp music and feel like I was riding past all the happy fairies in the forest, dancing among the ‘shrooms and caring for feral children.
I had to bid this bike adieu when I left for college. My new teal friend isn’t satisfying my basket yearnings, but I guess a cup holder comes close. After all, love is about sacrifice. I haven’t ventured too far with it just yet. Instead, I just end up riding around campus, over and over again, past the same groups of friends on the quad. Often I get that look that says, “Didn’t I just see you 10 minutes ago? and 10 minutes before that? Are you lost? Don’t you have homework? Or friends?”
I do have homework, I’d just rather be reading about bike maintenance and repair. I also have friends; I’ve almost fallen waving to them. I’ve also had those interactions with people I pass going up the TH hill, trying to smile casually while I struggle against the hill but then realize I just can’t and must dismount to walk it the rest of the way. I know that they think, “Ha ha weakling.”
I’m eager to see where this bike relationship takes me. We’ll grow together, laugh together, eat dirt together. I wonder where my next bike scar will be? Don’t worry, I have turmeric in the kitchen. Worse than my scars are the puns my bike driven life provides. I asked, my housemate “Graham, what’s funny about a bike?” His response? “You can train to be a bicyclist, but you can’t bike to be a train conductor.” He soon thought of another: “I thought about bike jokes for a while, but then I got too tired.” Hopefully, you didn’t get too tired of this article.