Many years ago, when I was young an fresh out of college, I had a job working for a dance theater house. My job was to attend dance rehearsals, design the lights for the show, hang and focus the lights and add gel (colors), manage all the technical end of a shows production including rehearsals, stage manager, and running the technical aspects of the show (light board and sound system). It was a cool job as I met many fine dancers and performance artists. It was also a grueling job – dirty, long nights, every weekend. And it was non-profit in the 1980’s when the arts suffered dearly. Many weeks we wondered if we could make payroll.
During that time, living in Chicago, I did not own a car. I took the “L” or I rode my bike. The “L” was easy, not far from anyplace I lived. But it was also dirty, crowded, and, well, late at night after a show, it was unsafe. Or rather, the walk from the “L” to my apartment was unsafe. Still, that’s how I got around most of the time.
In the summer I was prone to ride that bike to work, some 10 miles one way, along the shore of Lake Michigan. Chicago has some awesome bike paths along the lake and makes the ride glorious. Of course I also had to navigate city traffic from home to lake and lake to job….that was often hairy…
I have fond memories of racing that bike on a coolish summer night up the lake shore, speeding past couples out for a late night walk. Wooosh….exhilarating. I rode that bike on a long distance trip through Wisconsin. I rode that bike all over the place. Until it was stolen. Out of the basement.
When my kids were little I bought another bike, a cheap thing, a mommy bike. The gears were poor and the ride was ok. But it did the trick for riding around the suburbs with my kids.
Being here in the SW I have found myself yearning for another bike. A real bike. I don’t intend to do heavy duty riding, like some folks around here, no off road mountain biking or mountain biking of any kind. I intend to ride around town and be good to the environment by not using a car for every little trip to the grocery store or for coffee or to go to the library.
So Thursday my husband and I went to the local bike store. I tried three or four bikes before I found one I liked. The most striking thing I noticed: bike are much more expensive now. And bikes are much more sophisticated: racing bikes, all terrain bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes….
I bought a road bike. It’s silver and has 21 gears and shocks in the fork of the handle bar. It’s heavier and bigger than my old 10 speed racer, but much nicer and a better ride than my old mommy bike. I road it home, yesterday, about 7 miles.
I had this fear that I’d forget how to ride the bike. But I didn’t. It was a great ride.
Except for my knees, which felt as though they were going to spring loose like taut cables…and my cardiopulmonary system, which was definitely overworked.
The good news though is that today I am not sore. I look forward to building up my stamina and enjoying this bike.
Looking back at the past, reflecting on the many decisions I’ve made, some good, some not so good, is part of what I am doing these days. Building stamina is another thing I am doing. It could be that bike riding may enable this in some fine ways…