Bikes I have owned as an adult: 0
Miles my husband used to cycle per week: 100
Miles I have ever cycled per week (at age 9): 5?
Bikes and I have a trust issue.
It isn’t that I have forgotten how to ride them… you know, the whole “it’s like riding a bike” thing. It’s that you have to trust a simple machine thing made of metal (the bike) not to toss a non-machine thing made of snap-able bones and abrasion-able skin material (your body) towards the earth, which is made of hard-packed stuff that doesn’t feel good when you hit it at a high rate of speed.
I had a horrible bike accident when I was eight.
I was at a friend’s house; I was going to spend the night. She had two older brothers and a huge playroom with floors knee-deep in Barbies and trucks and G.I. Joes. We were allowed, nay, encouraged to jump on the beds. When we were tired of the over-abundance of toys, we could head outside and run willy-nilly all over the yard and neighborhood. It was like Child Island.
And outside, there were bikes. I wasn’t awesome at biking, because I was a daycare kid, and at daycare, you did stuff like braid other girls’ hair, play chase and set up adventure games, and when you were tired, play MASH and talk about J.R. getting shot.
But I was up for biking that day, and we headed towards the big hill at the front of her neighborhood, her on her bike, and me on her older brothers’ castoff. Things went fine until we started going down the hill.
Things learned that day: the screw that holds the handlebars together is a non-negotiable part of the whole bike equation. As are brakes that slow the vehicle down. Gravity was not something they needed to review with me at school.
But I was lucky: my face stopped my fall. Yay, me.
My husband does not share my fear.
I keep catching him on the Internet, looking at images… of bikes.
As a kid back in the safety of England, he biked a few miles from his home to the nearest town with a video arcade, played a few games of Defender, then cycled back again. He cycled to college classes and across the country from university to his dad’s house, through towns with narrow roads and lumbering trucks. It makes me shiver even in retrospect.
Since we’ve been together, he hasn’t done a lot of cycling. But springlike weather and our kids being just the right age to keep up have encouraged him to start searching for The Perfect Bike.
And whoa, boy, when a purchase is afoot, there is research to be done.
The Purchasing Process for him: “So I have researched the options online and within a 15-mile radius. There are 47 cycling stores nearby, but with lifetime maintenance, a close-by store would make the most sense. So, as you can see, I have created a spreadsheet with a cost-analysis and color-coded pros and cons list.” There are then words thrown out that may or may not include: amortization, assets and appreciation.
Which is at odds with my usual Purchasing Process: “It’s so pretty. I want it.”
So when he talks about the possible bike purchase, it sounds like: “Blah blah blah June blah blah blah ride blah blah blah.”
I smile a lot.
The kids now talk about us all going on bike rides together.
And I smile.
Friends mention triathlons, which sound like a big party. And I smile.
Cycling is a fear I know I should try to overcome. But the thought of putting my feet in pedaled cages and biking next to other people who are also pedaling… on machines that are open to the air and not able to stand on their own without falling over makes me a teensy bit anxious.
That, and my face kind of still remembers the distinctly un-cool feeling of meeting asphalt.
I’m leaving smiley faces on my husband’s spreadsheets and love notes in his old bike helmet. But I’m happy to watch from the sidelines and take pictures and stuff. Just so everyone else can remember what their faces looked like pre-bike.