In 2010, when I was living in Maryland I purchased the new B.o.B album that had just come out on iTunes and was listening to it while I walked two miles down Cherry Hill Road to target. I don’t remember exactly why I walked. Perhaps my car was in the repair store. At target, I bought a new bicycle for the first time in many years. Walked down means I had to ride it up. This didn’t last very long and I had an embarrassing walk of shame since I was not able to make it up the hill.
Back then, and even today, I know nothing about bikes. I am pretty sure I bought the worst possible bike for the occasion. It was slow, clunky, and felt like it would fall apart at any moment.
It’s worth noting, that at the time I was working at the National Naval Medical Center which was under 10 miles from my apartment. 10 miles in beltway traffic can quickly turn into a 90 minute commute. The only other option was taking the train, which was in an inconvenient U shape. The train station was a few miles away and the bus to take you there was slow, also in some inconvenient letter shape, and overall the commute time was not much better.
Riding a bike to the train station was a viable option, and I ended up doing just that a number of times. The best part about this is that there was a bike trail directly next to my apartment that took you up to the University of Maryland campus and the metro station. This trail was beautiful, and there was even a creepy swamp straight out of a horror movie that would be filled with Silent Hill esque fog in the mornings.
The best memory that I have of this bike was the time that my Ford Focus broke down for good. I loved that car. It was the firs thing I bought with my first military pay check. I got it with around 7 miles on it brand new in 2007. I drove all over the east coast and the midwest in that egg shaped hot red car. I blew the speakers out listening to house music that Gerald introduced me to. I popped it in third gear one time and chased a woman down Wisconsin Ave in a fit of road rage when she cut me off one day. One of my friends joked to me that the moment I reached 45,000 miles the car would break down.
Damn that person. Literally the day I reached 45,000 miles my clutch went out on the beltway. It was the most frustrating experiences of my life. I somehow made it back to my apartment. This was one of the most memorable moments of that old bike. I rode it, in the middle of the winter, over ice, to a Honda dealership.
Let’s make one thing clear. When you show up to a dealership on a bicycle in the middle of the winter, you just made the day of whoever is lucky enough to come talk to you first because there is no way that you are leaving there without a car. I got a Honda Civic. Also brand new. No clutch this time. That car, named Chester, is still around. My dad drives it these days.
In 2011, when I was preparing to leave Maryland and move back to Ohio I sold the bike to a University of Maryland engineering student for a fraction of what I paid for it. I remember watching him ride away into the sunset. That was the last time I rode a bicycle.
Maryland, Ohio, and New Jersey where I spent most of the last decade are not really big bicycle towns. San Francisco on the other hand is full of bike lanes, bike shares, and every morning you can see hundreds of cyclists commuting to work like a herd of gazelles down Market Street.
I remember one of the doctors that I worked with biked to work every day. Unlike the folks around here who do it unpretentiously, it was an entire event for him. He would wear the whole tight clothes getup, take a shower before he started to work, and then change into his uniform. Must be nice, who has time for that?
Ever since I moved here, I have been wanting to get a bicycle. A few weeks ago I asked my twitter followers to recommend a bike shop. My good friend, and co-worker, Tad made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Rather than recommending a bike shop or a bike model he gave me an old bike instead. Tonight, I finally got a chance to go pick it up and take it for a spin.
It was amazing.
By far, this is the best bicycle that I have ever ridden on. It has huge wheels. It takes very little effort to pick up speed. It’s fast. Most of all, its fun. I felt like a kid again riding on that thing.
We rode to Golden Gate park to watch the awesome photosynthesis light show at the Conservatory of Flowers. I learned about The Wiggle and rode home from the Haight to SoMa. There was something truly amazing and freeing about biking home tonight. I saw the city in a whole different light.
Besides living in constant fear of my front wheel or seat being stolen, I cannot wait to take this for a spin all over the city. The first thing I want to do is finally make my way all around Golden Gate Park. That place is huge and walking around would take an entire day. I am too lazy for that. Naturally I am going to join the flock of tourists and take a ride over the golden gate bridge one of these days as well.
My last bike offered me so many great memories that I have not really thought about until now. I can’t wait to see what adventures this new bike will have in store for me.
I want to give a public, heartfelt, humongous THANK YOU to Tad. He really made my day.