The Orangecycle Diaries: Uh, more days

It seems that God -- or whoever is in charge of the universe this week -- felt I had gotten a little uppity about my bike ("It's so pretty! It's so cool! I'm a better person than you are!") and arranged for a couple days of rain this past weekend. Because I'm pretty sure that's what a higher power does: sits around dreaming up ways of putting me in my place. Thus, my dream of taking Daisy to one of our finer metro parks to see what she's made of did not become a reality. It's possible this could happen another time, but I prefer to dwell on the finality of it all. Due to the aforementioned weather issues, I've only had a few days riding since I last posted and, to be honest, not much riding in those days, distance- or time-wise. I'd blame it all on my hectic social schedule, but I think we all know that's not the case. Mostly, I just tooled around the neighborhood, and I seem to be mastering one of what I presume to be the key elements of bicycling -- keeping my balance. It seems to me that not falling off is probably a pretty important skill to have and the more I ride, even little jaunts around the 'hood, the less likely it seems that I will lose control of my bike and veer into a parked car. Or a moving car. Or a small child. This is all good progress.

I'm still a little skittish around cars because, it seems to me that all the belly-aching my bikier friends have been doing for years about drivers being boorish and discourteous to riders might actually be true. (If I'd known I'd wind up with a bike one day, I might have listened with greater compassion and an ear towards a solution. Probably not, but maybe.) And I still haven't mastered what feels to me like a Cirque du Soleil-level trick of steering with one paw on the handles so that I can signal my turning intentions to drivers. Thus, I've been known to pass up a turn or two just to keep both hands in play. I'm discovering that a person could get lost this way.

Yesterday, I waited for the rain to stop then caught what I thought was a primo late-afternoon chance to zip around a bit. I will say this: my legs are getting stronger. The hills aren't quite so torturous. And, let's face it, by hills I mean slight inclines. We all know where this story's heading. So when the rain returned, rather suddenly, I learned first hand that one gets considerably wetter on a bike than when driving in a car. I'm not saying one is better than the other, I'm just stating facts. In a three-quarter mile distance back to my house, I got soaked to the bone, but I will confess this: it felt kinda awesome.

Two things I learned about cycling in the rain, besides the obvious "getting wet" bit, which I will share with you now:

  1. My brakes squeal in the rain. Is that supposed to happen?
  2. Your pretty bike gets dirty. Dirty!

Today I ventured out for an extremely long and arduous journey. By which I mean about 3.75 miles. WHICH IS A VERY LONG WAY IF YOU ARE SEVERELY OUT OF SHAPE AND GENERALLY LAZY! I probably taxed my knee a little too much, not to mention my legs -- all of which were pretty mad at me already after being dragged out to yoga last night. Apart from the times when I thought my knee would snap in half and my thighs might catch fire, it actually felt good. I went places, man! I went to the CVS (or near it). And Kroger (or near it.) I could have, ostensibly, gotten out and run actual errands if a) I had bought a lock yet and/or b) my basket had arrived and I had any way to carry anything home.

One last observation -- for now, at least: I noticed that people smile at me a lot when I'm riding past them. People on the sidewalk, postal carriers, old ladies driving their cars. Since they don't actually know me, I don't suppose it can simply be chalked up to the irony of my being on a bike in the first place. No, I figure it must be my jaunty orange Townie, spreading love and sunshine everywhere it goes.

Yeah. 'Cause that's so me.