Bike and Build sends you a road bike (road bike = really lightweight, with weird slopey handlebars and skinny tires. Up ’til now I’ve been riding a hybrid, which is heavier and has wider tires and flat handlebars) after you raise $1K, take an online safety course, pass its quiz, then score 100 on its own safety quiz. So of course I am only getting my bike now.
Several moments into a video on YouTube called “how to put together your road bike,” I knew I had to take it to a shop.
The Australian man there called me “young lady” two times, but he also showed me things about the bike like its weird gear shift system and said koans like, “you don’t turn a road bike, you lean a road bike.”
He suggested I “ride in longer and longer circles” to get comfortable with the new type of bike, and not worry about distance for a while. “Easy for him to think,” I thought. “He doesn’t have to fit in 200 or so miles in the next two weeks.” I nodded and resolved to totally overdo it.
He moved the seat into its proper height for me, but that was a bit terrifyingly high, so he agreed to lower it to start out with, because, “it’s worse for your knees, but initially it’s better for your knees because you won’t be falling on them.”
When I saw the photo of the color
option mandate available to me online, I steeled myself for having the ugliest bike in the world. It’s black, with turquoise and hot pink accents. But now that I have it in person, I’m kinda into it. I like a little garish flair, a little “up yours” to taste, and now I have a vehicle that’s a pure monument to being just too much.
I did some wobbly loops on the tiny, quiet streets near the shoppe. In my thoughts:
Part 1 of Brain: holy shit am I glad I did the bulk of my training on huge streets like Sunset Boulevard and Melrose Avenue because now the rest of the world is a joke!
Part 2: A joke that can still kill you! It just takes one truck, even if it is carrying a luxury outdoor patio set down a private cul-de-sac.
Another strong thought was my sadness at seeing that a family whose house sat next to a tiny brook (or average brook size, I think they’re just small by definition) decided to cover their lawn in pesticides. Now those chemicals will wash into the brook, which will babble them into the Long Island Sound and other waterways. THIS IS SAD AND UNNECESSARY. If you are willing to grow the types of plants that would be here without you (that is, native plants), then you don’t have to fight so hard against nature to keep the plants you like (grass, int his and most cases) in the ground. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here eating celery from a bag that said “CRISPER AND LESS STRINGY” so idk what kinda genes you have to delete around here to get that to happen. I can vouch that it’s a pretty great texture. I’m cool with GMOs as long as you M the right Gs.
[Zeke status update: Zeke is not standing in the open doorway, looking out. At the precipice between indoor and out, he is struck with either indecision or a calm so complete it is unknowable to humans. Perhaps he does not need to go to the outside, for he can see it and it is there and it is his. Or perhaps he does not see the false dichotomy of space into which our puny human minds have divided the world.]
As far as the new bike went: pretty great, once I got the hang of it, but turning (excuse me, leaning) is weird and hills are perhaps trickier but perhaps I just always hate hills? But I also truly believe it was more difficult to get up the hills with the new bike.
I biked into every little side lane I could find until I was ready to take it up a notch (this goes out to all of you alive and conscious in the early 2000s Food Network days) and bike to the big leagues: the beach. I biked along the mansions, few small beach shacks that have so far managed to evade the wrecking ball, and the grid of homes that reminded me of how Los Angeles does even nice homes: with a thin ribbon of surrounding land, not a huge lawn to buffer you from the world. Then I biked around In Longshore, the town’s country club, where I came across lots of roads leading nowhere, just for show (or golf carts, though I saw a guy drive his right past the edge).
With regards to affordable housing, there wasn’t. Most of the houses I passed just looked like Money, and those that didn’t know their days are numbered. It was interesting to see the different guises money can take, as money in Santa Monica transmogrifies into something different than here: more stucco, less colonial era chic (or rather, it references a different colonial era of a different empire). But money everywhere likes its land flat, prostrate, and uniform, as the drought-defying streets in Beverly Hills and San Marino attest with their plush lawns.
Houses I passed with shapes cut into their shutters: 6
House count for each shutter shape:
- Crescent Moons: 1
- Diamonds: 1
- Seahorses: 1
- Sailboats: 1
- Starfish: 2
Frequency of all cut outs increased in accordance with proximity to the ocean.
Dogs who spazzed at me: 4
2 medium black lab-types and 2 tiny fluff types, who live across the street from each other and all came out, emboldened by each other in a never-ending feedback loop, to freak out about my presence.
Times the bike shop guy called me “young lady”: 2
Comeback I muttered to myself: “I’m 25”
Other bicyclists I saw on the roads: 5
All were middle aged men decked out in intense cycling gear, in contrast to my own ratty cotton t-shirt and running shorts (not to mention age and gender)
Streets I passed with churchy names: 2
Chapel St and West Parish Rd
Miles biked: 16.2