Portrait of the Artist as a Young Tomboy

So I’ve started riding a bicycle again. It’s the first time I’ve done so in about 25 years. I bought the one I’ve got for $20 from a departing faculty member, which gave me the perfect non-committal way of seeing if I would ride.

& Oh, do I. I started some last fall, & when the weather got nice this year, I started doing 6 miles, then 7, then 10; then I leaped to 15, and so on, until now I bike about 20 miles a day, every day.

It brings me a lot of peace. I usually go out on a bike path around dusk, so I can get the last of the sun on my way out, & see the sunset on my way back.

Today, my chain came undone, which has happened maybe twice before – the very first time I rode the damn thing, but a friend fixed it. Now, due to her lovely example, I know what to do, and what you do is turn your hands into a goddamn mess. Still, I got the chain back on, wiped them on my black pants (which I only wear to ride), and went on my way.

Later in the trip I stopped to take a drink and needed some lip stuff, so I dug around in my bag and found a Burt’s Bees lip gloss. What a sight, right? Hands blackened with that greasy soot oh so carefully applying lip gloss. I had a moment where I thought: I have now re-achieved tomboy in a way I never imagined, but it’s true: I love going over curbs and through gravel and the kind of competitive cycling that most appeals to me is cyclocrossing, which worries me, but there it is.

Still, I need stuff & how much stuff I need is starting to make Rachel nervous: gloves, a warm thing for my head & under my helmet (a balaclava, they tell me it’s called, although with plenty of cycling nomenclature, that seems overstated), moisture-wicking shirts, a windbreaker, and, of course, stuff to clean your greasy hands with that doesn’t require water.

And a new bike with way more gears. Originally I thought I’d quit as it got colder, but on these first chillier days – it’s already dropping to the 40s here in the evenings – I’m pretty damn sure I won’t be quitting at all, just buying new & different stuff to ride in the cold/sleet/hail/snow.

So yes, maybe Rache should be nervous. Either way, fellow cyclists, tell me what I need, give me your best advice, or just say hi.