Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Loaner

I’m sorry, I thought it was spring.

This cold weather has been especially disappointing considering the groundhog did not see his shadow this year, signifying an early spring. Maybe no one around here remembers that rare occurrence because we had two feet of snow February 2, but it happened! Now, I ask, where is the spring? The calendar says it is spring. The air outside begs to differ. Grrr. (Or should I say, brrr.)

We’re still biking, though. If you’re like me, once you’ve been on the bicycle for the first time each year, your addiction awakens. I don’t care that it’s cold; I want to avoid the car at all costs. And it does cost—it costs us comfort and time. But it saves us money that would have been spent on gas (which was $3.89 today!). And it makes us fitter, so you could argue that it saves us a trip to the gym (if we normally spent time at the gym, that is). I admit we broke the biking streak (not to be confused with streaking while bicycling, which we did not do) last week when rain was forecast for a couple of days and when we had an evening engagement that just didn’t allow time for biking. But this week, we’re back to freezing our buns off on the bikes everyday. It sucks, and yet it’s invigorating. I feel alive and self-sufficient and strong.

Also this week, I’ve been using a borrowed bike while mine awaits some repairs—most importantly, my back wheel is out of true and some ball bearings could be replaced, and while we’re at it, the chain is old and slack and one of the brake cables is shredded. Oh, and how about some new handlebar grips? But we must not be the only ones who’ve kicked off bike season, because the bike store’s repair shop was booked until next Wednesday! I can’t go back to using the car everyday for a week and a half! Thankfully, Len’s parents were kind enough to lend me one of their bikes.

It is very different from my bike, which is a path-and-pavement hybrid. This loaner is a cruiser, more pleasure than business, so the tires are much fatter, the handlebars are wider, and the pedals are a little out in front of the seat instead of directly beneath it. It's basically the Buick of bikes, and it’s a very comfortable ride. Very comfortable. But it’s meant for cruising around town in a leisurely fashion. So, I’ve discovered that my commute, which I thought was about equally up-and-down in each direction, is actually mostly uphill on the way to the train station. I discovered that the gears on this bike are not really calibrated for speed, and the pedals are not positioned for powering up hills, because I missed my train Monday morning. I now know I have to give myself an extra 10 minutes in the morning to compensate for the slowness of this very comfortable, temporary transport. The ride home, on the other hand, took about the same amount of time as it would have on my own bike—because it’s mostly downhill that way. I wouldn’t have known.  Now I do.

Anyway, I’ll gladly take the slow bike over the car. Like I said, I’m addicted to biking after that first week. Or is it more of an aversion to the car than an addiction to the bike? Doesn’t matter. The point is, I strongly prefer to bike, so I’m happy to have the loaner. Besides, it’s a very comfortable loaner. Did I mention that?

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