This morning, I woke up. Went to the farmer’s market, then started to plan my day. It’s a gorgeous, sunny one, normally that’d be my cue to take the computer and go out and work somewhere around town, then come home and go to bed. But I felt like sometimes that’s all I do any more. I wanted to go Have Some Fun.
Having Some Fun turned out to be going to the bike shop to get new tubes for my perpetually-flat tires, and some Mr. Tuffy to put between the tubes and the tire. Seriously I think half the reason I so rarely use my bike is that it keeps on having two flat tires every time I forget about it for a week, and the impulse to go for a ride fades fast when I think about dealing with that. I was surprised how easily the rear tire came off the wheel; I finally figured out the right technique for wedging one little tube lever in there, getting it parallel to the hub’s axis, and just gliding it along. So that was nice, given that it always used to take forever with my old techniques of using two that were largely parallel to the surface of the wheel and fidgeting them along; I expected to break half my nails and broke none instead. That was a happy surprise.
And then I confidently went to deal with the rear wheel. Got it off the deraileur. And then I put it down with the gear cassette facing down, and, well, gravity did its thing on something that’s been sitting around disused and unmaintained, and soon I had the cassette’s retaining hub and the first couple gears sitting loose on the ground. Oops. I couldn’t get them back on, so back to the bike shop I went. They were able to put it back together for me without much hassle, so pretty soon I was able to get the bike back together.
And then I was off, with no real destination in mind. I wandered up to Ravenna Park, though about maybe riding to Northgate, there’s some nice views along the way. But nah. This was the first time I’d been on a bike in a while; I really haven’t been using it since I moved to the University District, and worrying about the inevitable flats that came from not having any Mr. Tuffy in my tires since the last time I was in the bike shop they had no clue whatsoever when I asked for some of that. But here I was with fresh tubes and a +7 boost to their armor level from the Mr. Tuffy, fuck it, I’m gonna go suck down some fumes like I did when I was cycling through the gridlocked French Quarter to my college job in downtown New Orleans, or when I was commuting to animation school and various third-rate animation studios in Los Angeles.
It was pretty much downhill all the way from there and it was glorious. Down from the park through the University, with a few bits going back up along the way, then hanging my bike on a hook in the train and reading on the way down. Then I came out of the tunnel in the middle of downtown and just plopped myself right in the middle of the street, taking my place in traffic that wasn’t generally running any faster than I could have lazily cycled. Downhill all the way to Pike Place, where I sat in a secret garden on the roof eating a tasty barbecue chicken sandwich I bought down there. Read some more. And then it was a short hop over to the station under Benaroya Hall, which took me back to the University station.
And then I contemplated hopping on a bus and coming back home. But I’d been spending some time on the stationary bikes at the YMCA recently, and I felt like I’d maybe built up some basic strength and stamina in my legs? So I threaded an irregular route back through the University, instead of taking the straightest path possible along steeper roads. Until I came to the edge of campus and had to power up slopes I was definitely feeling for maybe five blocks. I had no shame in going slower than a walking pace here and there when I downshifted more than someone more enthusiastic about Cycling might; I just wanted to see if I could do it without getting off and walking the bike.
By the time I made it home, I was sweaty, thirsty, and low on glucose. Which gave me an excuse to go right back out and get some tasty ice cream from the ice cream shop a half a block away that I pass, and don’t go to, pretty much every time I leave the apartment.
So yeah. Thanks to a fresh install of Mr. Tuffy in my bike’s tires, I had the confidence to go out on a pleasant little cycling adventure today, which burnt more than enough calories that I could justify eating some really good ice cream.
It was also really, really nice to be able to take a bike ride. That’s always been one of the things I’ve took physical pleasure in ever since I started cycling around New Orleans to college – whizzing along, exerting my body, feeling the wind, and occasionally asserting my presence in the middle of a row of multi-ton death machines. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever come to flying under my own power, and it feels good.
(does this sound like ad for Mr. Tuffy, it’s not one I swear)
(also I really miss living somewhere with a great climate for cycling pretty much all year round)