Thursday, August 2, 2007

Who is bike dummy, and what is this blog about?

Enough with the Tour bull*&%$
I am a bike dummy and this is my blog.
I wanted to start this blog to keep track of my embarrassingly late start in bicycling and understanding my bicycle.
I've had bicycles before. I had one when I was a kid. It was a second-hand Raleigh and I slow speed crashed into the superintendant of my friend's apartment building on it the first day I went out. He yelled at me and I cried.
As a kid, I spent summers out on Fire Island in a community that didn't have a lot of kids, so the few of us that there were all knew each other and ran wild. There were no cars and no roads, only boardwalks. We would take red flyer wagons to the top of the hills and speed down them using our flip flop shod feet as brakes. My friend Katie and I would 'borrow' her older brother's banana seat bikes and race around the island, our plastic flags flapping in the wind behind us.
Now wagons may be hard to control and flip flops may not be very effective for stopping, but the wheels aren't very big, so it feels like you're hurtling down the hills, but in reality, it's more like a bumpy little avalanche.
A bicycle is much, much faster.
- Aside #1 - this is how much I don't know. I just googled 'reverse pedal brakes bicycle' so I could describe what I'm guessing were the 'coaster brakes' the banana seat bikes had. You had to push the pedals backwards to make the bike stop. Here's what one web site said in its description of the pros and cons associated with coaster brakes:
Pros: Coaster brakes generally require less maintenance than any other type of brake. (This is good as we would just drop our bikes in the sand when we were done riding)
Cons: When coaster brakes fail (usually the result of chain breakage or derailment) they fail suddenly and completely.
Ah, Yeah. Flying down the 'big' hill by the post office directly at the perpendicular turn to the main boardwalk - and straight off the end - sort of like Evel Knievel - only without the ramp on the other end.
My family got priced out of lower Manhattan in the 80's and we moved to Brooklyn.
Got myself another used Raleigh and used it to travel to and from babysitting gigs. Chained it to an iron fence outside a brownstone, went in to pick up my money, I swear I wasn't inside for longer than 5 minutes, came out to no seat, no gears and no derailleur.
This time in college. Got myself another used bike (probably another Raleigh). I was riding in downtown Brooklyn when some guy catcalled out his car window at me. Now, I grew up in NYC, and I won't say I've heard everything, but I've heard more than I care to repeat, so who listens anymore? I was minding my own business when he blew by me, reaching out of the driver's side window as he passed - to grab my ass and knock me off my bike into the cars parked on the side of the road.
I cursed him, I cursed all car drivers, I cursed all men, I thanked the powers that be for sparing my life, and I limped home.
I don't even know what happened to that bike.

Before I got the bicycle that I have now, I had never even thought of what it took to maintain one.
I've never even had a bicycle long enough to change a tire.
The wheels always got stolen first.

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