This is kind of late for most kids; in fact, I remember going to elementary school and having a kid (I remember her wearing a Paula Abdul jacket, but in my memories, everyone in the 90s wore Bedazzled Paula Abdul jackets all the time) ask me what I did over the weekend, and when I proudly said, "Learned how to ride a bike!" she laughed at me.
"You're kidding, right?" she said.
"Yes," I whispered, demolished.
I learned how to ride on a boy's one-speed, and gave it up when I became a teenager, since I couldn't face the problem of all those other speeds and have since really only ever ridden a bike at Burning Man. I still don't understand speeds. Or brake handles. In my mind, you brake by back-pedaling. Not so much in reality.
So about two years ago, I thought it might be fun to get bikes and ride them more. J took me to Free Ride and we got a beater for $10 and fixed it up while listening to bike messengers rattle on about the Pigs and the Man and the Marijuanas. And then we got bike helmets and we rolled out of the driveway and I noticed a major problem in my reasoning: Pittsburgh is full of hills.
Burning Man is flat. Very flat. That's the whole point. You can look across it and see mountains that are miles and miles away. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, starts you off with hills; I lived in Squirrel Hill, for God's sake. I made it about ten minutes in before I felt like I was going to have a coronary and pass out on the side of the road; J waved at me cheerily, his long hair tucked under his helmet, and I couldn't even muster the strength to wave back.
So I took the bike out once or twice, trying to get up my stamina, and then I moved out and had no partner to go biking with, and then someone pointed out that the reason it was so hard for me to ride was not, as I'd previously thought, because I was a wuss, but because my bike weighed about forty pounds all on its own and biking it uphill was kind of like resistance training. That made me feel better about myself.
I got rid of the bike on Freecycle, after pondering the implications of bringing it with me on the round-the-country tour (pros: cheap portable transportation, cons: having to bring a bike everywhere when I'm not one of those people who automatically tucks up their pants leg when they leave the house). And now, in Los Angeles, of all places, I'm biking again.
Justin has a bike, a helmet, and a bike lock. North Hollywood is very flat. I am biking as transportation, in dangerous traffic, which doesn't actually bother me as much as how out of shape I am. I would rather deal with an entire Mexican family in a low-riding Mustang cutting me off on a left turn than bike half an hour to downtown Burbank and back because I am just that badass.
Note to self: work out more. Or I will look like a moron.