A couple weeks ago I woke up at 4:30 am and a Thought was there to say good morning to me. "Hi Barb," the Thought said. "How much do you pay to park your car when you go to work?"
"Huh?" I said, still wiping the sleep from my eyes.
"Dollars. Moolah. How much do you pay?"
I thought for a minute. Two dollars and twenty five cents times five. "$12.50 per week," I said.
"How much is that a month?"
"Come on it is 4:30 in the morning!" I whined. "Ok, about $50."
"How much gas money do you spend driving those 3 miles to the office?"
"Uh, well let's see..." and I did the math. About thirty cents per mile. Not including wear and tear. So almost two dollars a day. Times five days a week. Times....you get the point.
The Thought continued. "So how many hours in a month do you work simply to pay for driving and parking your car on the city street three miles from your house."
I knew where this was going.
Thought said very simply, "Get a bike".
A bike. Like bicycle. Why didn't I think of that. Oh wait, I did. Brilliant!
I used to ride a bike when I was a kid. I loved bikes. What kid didn't? I had a stingray with a banana seat after my tricycle. I had a blue ten speed with white tape on the handlebars. I promptly stripped the bike down, painted it a metallic copper/gold color, and wrapped buckskin around the handle bars, lacing them with leather. My friends and I rode miles and miles and miles.
That was decades ago. Bikes are a bit different now. More fancy. More expensive. So I talked to some friends in the know. What should I look for? What should I avoid?
I hopped on Craig's list and quickly found the bike I was looking for. A 1977 Schwinn Suburban, new tires and seat, excellent condition. Scored it for $100. Ebay has them for $900. This was fun.
Next was the helmet. Of course looks are everything, then comfort. I found both. I look patriotic. A blue bike, helmet with a red streak. Stylin'.
I hopped on Old Blue and off I rode down the street, arms wiggling trying to get used to the handle bars that feel like I am pushing a wheel barrel. Soon it was a smooth ride. Then it hit me.
I was free!
Free like an Eagle soaring across the sky! I experienced that complete exhilaration I remembered as a kid, the moment I was no longer a bipedal humanoid but new creature with round legs that gave infinite motion. Oh my lord, I was a kid again.
I have been hankering for a sports car or an old pickup truck lately, something from my younger days. But not anymore. I am reliving my youth riding Old Blue down to the Capitol every morning. Each trip is a new adventure. "Mom, will you pack my lunch? Pickles and peanut butter sandwich please, with sour cream and green onion chips! Don't forget the cookies!" I can hear myself say.
I take the river trail most of the way, greeting the ducks and rabbits and birds that are already going about their day. My wheels squish ripe mulberries on the boardwalk, little puddles of purple dotting the wooden rails. I stop if I feel like it and fill my mouth with summer bliss. I think of Grandma Bell, making me a mulberry pie from the pale full that I picked for her one summer day in the early 1970's. My blue mouth smiles and on I go. I pass the homeless people having their breakfast on the shore of the river. "Morning!" I say. They smile and respond. My smile never leaves.
I have walked to work and I have driven. But I never learned about the topography until I rode my bike. Wheels reveal secrets. I never knew it was mostly downhill to the Capitol, except for the last little jog. My legs told me it was uphill most of the way back today, my first day of commuting by bike. I felt so good when I got to work, and even better when I got home. Who else gets to go out and play before they go to the office?
I must have been a sight! I had a pink bandana tied around my right ankle to keep my pant leg from getting greasy. I had a guitar strapped on my back with a bright orange MDOT vest wrapped around that, as we had band rehearsal today at lunch. When I tried to stop and scoot off the seat, the guitar was behind it and prevented me from moving forward far enough. That first stop was hilarious as I was trying to look so cool to the passing motorists. I can hear them now. "Look a that old lady with a guitar on her back riding that 1977 Blue Schwinn Suburban!"
Eat my dust!