Early this summer, my bicycle was stolen. Some asshole broke into our backyard, took my bike first, came back, and was in the process of wheeling off with my kid’s bike when Bruce, our awesome neighbor, intervened and ordered the intruder to return it. Virginia’s bicycle was saved, mine was long gone. Josh was livid about my bike. Almost immediately, he cruised around the surrounding area, hoping to spot it and reclaim it. We’ve had success with this tactic in the past, as have other friends who’ve lost bikes to thieves. But this time, it was clear. My bicycle wasn’t coming back. And to tell the truth, I wasn’t that torn up about it. Sure, I was upset that a person felt he had the right to break into our backyard and steal our property—that sucks. But the fact my bicycle was gone? Eh…I think I’m OK with that.
Every summer I decide that this will be the year I utilize my bicycle for around-town errands like a proper city girl. I mean, Philly is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the U.S. I envision trips to Trader Joe’s and rides with VA down the path to camp every day. I’d bicycle to cafes, where I’d get some work done over an iced coffee. Our Nissan would simply sit parked at the curb and collect bird poop all summer. This scenario never happens. Philly gets pretty steamy during summertime, and bicycle riding can work up a sweat pretty quickly. I learned this early on a couple summers ago, when I decided to bicycle to a ladies lunch. The restaurant was about a mile away, and it wasn’t even that hot—80s. The ride itself was pleasant. I enjoyed the feel of the wind when it passed through my helmet, as I glided quickly through West Philly to my destination. It’s when I arrived that I started sweating. As soon as I locked up my bike, my clothes clung to my body and when I took my purse off, I had a sweat mark that matched my purse strap across my chest. The helmet, though, is the worst for sweat. When I took it off, it seemed to unlock all of my pores in my hair. I had sweat literally dripping down my face onto my plate for the entire lunch.
Besides the sweating, bicycling around town isn’t all that enjoyable for me. You need to be on high alert if you’re going to bike in the city. Cars, buses, pedestrians, trolley tracks—it can feel like they’re all out to get you. Trying to navigate where I’m going while at the same time determining if the driver yapping on her cell phone actually sees me (or instead will, in fact, make a left turn into me) can really ramp up my anxiety levels. I’d always rather walk. Walking’s slower, but when I allow enough time, I love it. I have the time to look around, people watch, absorb my surroundings. I can do things I can’t or shouldn’t on a bicycle—I can take a phone call, check email, listen to a podcast, sip a lemonade. And if I’m pressed for time? Well, that’s what bus tokens are for.
I wish I wasn’t such a bicycle wimp, but I can no longer deny it. Josh bicycles to work whenever the weather allows. For him it’s convenient and easy. Most of my friends are avid cyclists as well. That’s OK. They can all leave me in their dust. Now that I think of it, I’ve got a pair of rollerblades I haven’t used in 20 years. I don’t want anyone coming into my house and lifting my stuff, but if someone had to, the rollerblades are in the downstairs closet with the wristguards and kneepads.