Bought myself a beach cruiser bicycle the other day, which might perhaps be seen as an odd choice for land-locked Pocatello, Idaho. But I disliked all my road bikes with their 600 finely-tuned gears and their rock-hard rides. The heavy steel frame of the beach cruiser, the fat tires and the coaster brake – as well as the seat just made for a middle-aged rump – lured me with a promise of bicycle comfort that I could no longer resist.
Plus the doctor says I HAVE to get daily exercise, no matter what -- so I had a medical excuse.
My first ride of 20 minutes on mostly flat terrain left me winded and with wobbly legs. Clearly this will require some effort on my part.
But tooling along, when I wasn’t noticing the burn in my thigh muscles, I felt years younger. This is the kind of bike I grew up riding – indeed the kind of bike I learned to ride on when I was about 8 years old and my parents had managed to snag a bike for no money (the only way we had bikes when we were little). And the weather in Pocatello in these waning days of summer 2008 has been absolutely peerless: chilly mornings, clear and warm days, a mild breeze. Can’t beat it for outdoor activities.
And surprisingly (to me), biking around town gives a much better perspective of this place I call home now. You really learn the streets and can appreciate the beauty and charm of the yards and houses when you’re cruising at 4 m.p.h. through a neighborhood. We’ve had a fairly green summer, and everyone’s flowers and yards are still quite lush. There are proud, glorious sunflowers and cheerful geraniums everywhere. It puts me in mind of the last days of summer at the Shore, when most of the East Coast humidity is gone, the breeze is stirring the sand, the wild roses tumble over the fences, and the days are crystal clear.
You get the picture.
The beach cruiser bike is clearly a pleasure bike – a mixed blessing to my self-esteem because I think it inspires pity in motorists who watch the middle-aged lady pedaling her big bicycle along the side of the road. They stop their cars at intersections in order to let me cross – as if I were a pedestrian in a crosswalk and not a moving vehicle subject to the same rules of the road as they. Weird, but at least I get safely across the road (unlike when I’m on my motor scooter and motorists seem intent on mowing me down if at all possible).
I’ve just returned from a ride, winded and with muscles burning, but the breeze and the sun were so exhilarating that I just can’t mind the discomfort. The last days of summer are going fast, but I intend to slowly soak up as much of them as I can on my beach cruiser.
What’s your bicycle story?