I’m travelling for work this week and amidst a hectic couple days of solo puppy-wrangling and trying to get everything ready (item I forgot this time: Ethernet cable), I was pleased on Friday to get a note from the library informing me that my request for No Impact Man had just come in. Perfect! Just in time for me to make it my plane-reading. The irony of this is not lost on me. Still, it had been on my list of to-reads for awhile, so it was nice to finally get my hands on it.
It consoles me slightly that (not surprisingly, given my luck with these things) the in-flight entertainment screen widgets flaked out — only for my side of the plane, and only for the first 10 rows — so although I was flying and all, at least a whole bunch of monitors were off thus consuming less fuel, producing less heat, blah blah blah. Also, I was reading a library copy, not a new one. That makes it better too, right? No? Those paltry details don’t affect the enormous carbon debt I created in the sky today? Alright then.
Vaguely related, on Friday when I got the notice about the book I decided that This Was It. This was going to be the day that I finally stopped putting it off and Got On My Bike. You wouldn’t think this would be such a big deal, but it has been something of an on-going saga. Short version:
- A couple years ago (yes, years) my coworker heard me saying that I would like to bike to some services (the pub, the library, massage therapist, the doctor’s, movies, possibly groceries, etc.) in our neighbourhood since they were close enough to make me feel guilty driving, but too far to walk.
- He gave me his old steel-framed bike that he never used anymore, having bought himself a newer, shinier, lighter one.
- I thanked him profusely and asked The Boy if he could check it over and make sure she was road-worthy (since I know jack about bikes).
- He said yes, but being as that we were completely swamped with house projects, this fell pretty low on the priority list. The bike sat, unloved and unchecked all summer, through fall, then migrated into the shed for winter.
- Next spring, in a fit of enthusiasm, I bought a bike helmet, determined that this summer I would actually get around to fixing up the bike for use, etc.
- The bike sat, unloved and unchecked all summer, through fall, and winter.
- Yes, I know. I left my coworker’s generous gift outside through a Canadian winter. I’m a bad person; you can say it.
- Spring came. I looked into courses where you take the bike with you and are taught basic tuning and repair skills. None of them were offered in spring — apparently bike enthusiasts take those things in January. Who knew?
- Despair set in.
- Team Awesome biked in a charity event, the bibs of which included coupons for heavily discounted tune-ups at a local sports shop. Chris generously let me steal a bib tag and off my bike went.
- Dread set in.
- A couple days after dropping off my sad-looking ride, I went to pick it up and was shocked to see only the note “front tire flat — fixed” on the tag. That was it?! That was all the bike needed?
- I cross-examined the guy who tuned my bike, who gave me the vague warning that “bikes that age” could have problems with tire sidewalls and “you know, the brakes”. He also reassured me, however, that she was road-worthy, so home we went.
Fast-forward to Friday. I had the official okay for the bike, I had a short-distance errand to run, things seemed perfect. I decided that as I hadn’t been on a bike in well over 10 years (close to 15 probably), I would make my sort-of-maiden voyage a trip to the library to pick up the book. A short trip, mostly through parking lots and residential streets, only one intersection.
I unearthed a bike lock, found my helmet, got the bike on the lawn and… realized the seat was set way too high for me. Alright. These things must be adjustable, right? …Right? I’m certain there is a way to set the bike seat to a shorter level, but could not for the life of me see where.
I was not to be deterred, however: I had my helmet on already, damnit. I was going to bike to the library. So I dragged The Boy’s bike out of the shed and tried that out. Adequate height. Alright, then. I had a momentary twinge of misgiving since The Boy’s bike had not had any attention since winter either, although it did have the advantage of having hibernated in the shed at least. Still… it was a short distance. I’d be fine. Really.
I had a shaky first 20 metres or so trying to remember how to get started without a curb to balance on, when I managed to derail the chain. (The Boy’s bike has two different set of gear things, which I’ve concluded I don’t understand. Having broken it twice — and fixed it The Boy! don’t worry! — however, I’ve discovered that although I don’t really understand it, I can at least make it work when I don’t mess around with the left one.)
After that, it was essentially smooth (albeit somewhat greasy-fingered) sailing. It felt great to be finally biking — something I’ve wanted to do since we moved to this neighbourhood — to run simple errands, or even just to ride for fun. So quiet! So much faster than walking! Definitely something to do again, although preferably on my own bike, which I hope has a squishier seat than The Boy’s because… dude. Not comfortable.
Next up (after adjusting my seat): a giant European-style basket for the front of my bike in which to put a purse, a baguette, or whatever else I’m hauling around that day. (Hey, I said I was biking for errands or fun; speed and efficiency don’t factor into my considerations. If we’re sticking with the bike/non-bike vehicle translations that have abounded on blogs of late, my bike would probably be a horse-drawn carriage: cute and touristy, but not exactly efficient travel.) And as soon as I have the basket, I’ll affix tacky, bright-coloured fake flowers too.
I can’t wait.