I just started riding my bike to work — a mere 24 years after moving to Boulder.
I’m slower than most. (And everybody else riding their bikes to and fro, zipping past me at ridiculous speeds, can vouch for that.)
Part of the reason for the switch is my beloved truck only intermittently starts; the other, because my beloved butt only intermittently fits into jeans. And since I’d just gotten the ridiculously heavy and ridiculously cool 1960s Japanese utility bike back from the shop, all fixed up and ready to go, it seemed a fortuitous time to actually start riding it.
Fortunately, I was told I could ride across town from home to work and back on a bike path and stay out of traffic virtually the entire time. Unfortunately, because I haven’t spent much time on a bike path in Boulder since the early 90s (and only then to duck into the bushes to smoke a bowl) I have absolutely no idea where I will end up when I get on one.
The first time I tried to get to work, I ended up out where all the tow truck companies are and had to circle back because I was WAY far from where I shoulda been. When I righted myself, I realized I’d been exactly where I needed to be and had effectively added 30 minutes to the ride. (You’re welcome, bodonkadonk.)
This kind of malarkey continued over the span of several days.
Eventually, my buddy stepped in and told me exactly which paths to take. Only he didn’t tell me what these magical paths were named, and so the whole getting-lost bullshit continued until I’d made enough wrong turns over the course of a week to figure out what the right ones were.
Don’t get me wrong; the names of the bike paths are often as enchanting as the paths themselves. But when you’re used navigating intersections such as 123 Street and ABC Avenue and are suddenly trying to figure out the intersection of “Pretty, Trout-Filled Creek” and “Mother Goose’s Olde Tyme Byke Roade,” surrounded by irritated runners and cyclists who wish you would just get the hell out of the way, it can get daunting.
When I finally, finally, finally figured out how to get to work and back the way Boulder intended, there was a new hurdle: nature.
Prairie dogs zipped into the path begging to be run over, geese stared at my ankles with bite-y looks on their faces and cottonwood trees filled my eyes with their itch sauce. To combat all the nature flying at me, I started listening to robot music.
There’s no question I’m currently a bigger danger to myself and others behind the handlebars than I am behind the wheel, but something totally weird happened last night on the way home: I enjoyed myself.
Suddenly, baby bunnies were racing me down the path, butterflies were flickering in and out of eyesight and birds chirped little songs. When I got home, sweaty and smiling, I half expected a bunch of busy mice sewing me a new dress like I was some kinda damn Disney princess.
I’m hoping in the next couple of weeks, I’ll have this figured out and can take the training wheels off. In the meantime, let’s just pretend I’m new in Boulder. I swear I’ll get out of your way.