Rookie Commuter: Got her on a Bike

“My butt is sweaty.”

“What?” I said as I turned on my bike, trying to maintain my balance while looking at my girlfriend. “What did you say?”

“My butt is sweaty,” she repeated, assuring me that my ears weren’t tricking me.

“You’ll get used  to it,” I said.

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A little beat up, but so am I. And seeing that my girlfriend puts up with me, I’m sure she can deal with a similar bike.

It took a while for me to get her out on a ride. Her mountain bike was unrideable, not that I really tried to fix it; it looked like a lot of work. And if there is a way to avoid hard work, I’ll find it. There’s an expression, “Work smart, not hard.” Well, I’d rather not work at all. Probably not something I should admit to while looking for steady employment.

“How does that seat height feel?”

“Fine.”

“And how does the gear shifting feel?”

“Fine.”

“How do YOU feel?”

“Mediocre.”

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“Oh, it’s from the ground, and the tools are in front of the bike. So artistic,” says zero readers. “Why don’t you just show us the toolbox,” is what I’m sure they’ll actually say.

My parents own a condo in town, a retirement plan of sorts. And while I don’t live there due to the high rent, I do have access to the garage. On its wall hangs two bikes, one of which I removed recently for my girlfriend to ride. This week, I introduced her to that two-wheeled vehicle–my dad’s old road bike, which, before that, was my bike; it pays to be bigger than your father.

“I feel so boxed in,” my girlfriend said, getting a feel for the bike in a parking lot. “Why is it so hard to turn?”

After only riding mountain bikes, road bikes can feel a little bit rickety–like riding a malnourished horse after an elephant.

Luckily, all it took to get the bike road-ready was some air in the tires and a seat adjustment. To do these things, I used tools belonging to my girlfriend’s brother. Turns out my independence is a facade; I can barely wipe myself without a support crew.

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“I know how to adjust a helmet.” And yet, I had to help her adjust her helmet.

“Don’t forget your helmet,” I reminded her as we went out the door.

“Tim, I’ve ridden a bike before,” she replied, grabbing her helmet and playfully glaring at me. “I’m not a moron.”

“Well…”

She has a habit of punching me–surprisingly hard–in the shoulder at least a few times a day. That I deserve it doesn’t take away from the dull ache it leaves in my arm.

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Before our first ride. You’ll notice my bike has the bag on it. I can’t drive her anywhere, so the least I can do is carry her stuff.

After the recent cyclist deaths around Boulder, my girlfriend is even more worried about safety than she already was. And my recent encounter with a vehicle doesn’t help.

“I don’t want to ride on roads,” she said. “Cars scare me.”

“You’re going to have to ride on roads eventually,” I said, but decided to tackle that fear another day. I just had to get her out on this bike to see how it felt. And, though I didn’t tell her this, see if it broke down mid-ride.

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I may not be able to stop a leaky faucet, change the oil in her car, or figure out why her computer is making that weird noise. But I can raise and lower her bike seat, so that’s something.

So instead, I took her out on the bike paths around her house, riding for about fifteen minutes until we came to a street crossing and she said, “Oh no, there are cars there.”

Rather than helping her through a crosswalk, I suggested that we turn around. By avoiding her fears of meeting the front end of a car and sticking to Boulder’s expansive bike paths, the first ride proved to be exciting for my lady.

“Hey, wait up,” she called to me. I slowed down slightly, and glanced over my shoulder only to see her cruise by me with a big grin, “Bye!”

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“I don’t know what to do with my face,” she said. “I’ve heard some people smile in pictures,” I replied.

The second ride wasn’t quite as enthusiastic.

“My butt hurts,” she said.  “Does your butt hurt?”

“You’ll get used to it.”

 

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