Tuesday, September 21, 2010

the red bike (m)

I bought a shiny new red mountain bike....21 years ago.  Summer of 1989.  I was pregnant with Sam. 

My red bike got off to an auspicious start.  The first time my husband and I took it on a trip to the Cape, it fell off the bike rack on the Mass Pike just 2 miles from our house.  The rubber on the seat completely eroded from being dragged on the ground.

Over the years, my bike has seen very little action.  Last year, before I even began WW, I had it completely checked out at International Cycle, Inc. in Newton, MA.  The bike specialist smiled when he saw the bike....and me.  I don't think it was because the bike is a "relic" by today's standards.  I just think he thought "fat chance she'll ever ride this bike again."  The bike got new tires, some lubrication, and a bell.  I even bought a new, more feminine bike helmet (the old one had a "flame" on it) and a sturdier bike rack so that we would have no misshaps on the road.

I took the bike home with high hopes.  I planned to ride it frequently.  I planned my routes by going online looking at the top bike paths in eastern Massachusetts.  The Minuteman trail that goes from Arlington to Lexington caught my eye.  Visions of glorious fall foliage, crisp autumnal air.  I could see it.  I could smell it.  I even imagined conversations with fellow bikers.  We would become friends.  If I extrapolated, I might even try the Pan-Mass Challenge a grueling multi-day bike trip that some of my friends do.

It didn't happen.  The first problem was that I had no energy.  60+ pounds ago, I could barely walk without running out of breath.  The second problem was that I had no appropriate biking clothes.  I even went online to look for "plus sized bike apparel."  Nothing.  Oh, I did have sneakers.

So, my trusty red bike sat in the garage yet another year. 

Until last week.  I come alive in Fall...I have much more energy.  Clothes I bought when the bike was new (21 years ago and pre-pregnancy) now fit again (the sneakers still fit). 

I dropped H off at the rink and went across the street to the bike path along the Charles River.  I rode 5 miles that first day.

The next day, I did 6.5 miles.

On Saturday, I dropped H off at the boathouse for crew practice.  It had rained the night before.  I pulled the car into a parking inlet and took the bike off the rack.  I got on the bike and looked for a place to enter the bike path from the parking area.  On the left was a high curb.  On the right, another high curb.  Ah, I see it.  In the middle was a no-curb section, but there was a puddle there.  I built up some momentum by pedaling harder and went straight through the water.

The next thing I know, my tire caught something, the front wheel stopped and I flipped up over my bike--airborne-- and landed flat on my front side.  Mud all over me.  Apparently, there was a large hole in the ground and my tire got stuck in it, unable to budge.

A jogger wearing a Gillette World Cup tee-shirt came by to help.  "Are you all right?" he asked.

"Amazingly, yes," I said.  I got up, spitting some of the mud out of my mouth.

Soaking wet, I rode on for over an hour and a half along the Charles River on a beautiful day with a song in my head:

Yeah, down by the river
Down by the banks of the river Charles
That's where you'll find me....

...Well I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston you're my home.

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