Monday, March 11, 2013

Back on Two Wheels

So, yeah, I got a bike.

This is how it happened:

Since my unexpected retirement some months back, I have been happily holed up in my flat, occasionally stepping onto the balcony to feel the bitter wind on my face and watch the blowing snow swirl around the courtyard before ducking back inside, thankful that I no longer have to be anywhere that requires me to go outside. But then something strange occurred: the wind stopped, the sun appeared, the flowers bloomed and the outside world became suddenly agreeable.


Sussex, in agreeable weather.
For the record, this happened on Monday and Tuesday of this past week. By Wednesday, the sun was already making a tactical retreat, but I still had a spring in my step, so I took advantage of the mild weather (as well as the fact that, not having rained for three days, the ground was actually showing is some places) and walked—with the aid of my wellies—to a nearby village for a pint. This was so agreeable that, on the return journey, I began thinking of other pubs I might visit. Alas, most of them were too distant to attempt by foot, but if I had a bicycle…

So, yeah, I got a bike.

This wasn’t as straightforward as it could have been. While I did own a bike when I lived in the States—and was a semi-enthusiastic rider—it has been close to two decades since I have purchased one, and two-wheel technology has marched on since then, dragging the price along with it. Consequently, the man at the bike shop showed me a beguilingly sleek machine boasting disc brakes, hydraulic suspension and 27 gears along with a price that made me think he had mistaken my intention and was attempting to sell me a car.

We eventually agreed on a model and a price but, as I am no longer the primary breadwinner in this relationship (despite my “best-seller” status – see What’s New), I needed to submit a purchase request to the chief financial officer. I had the advantage here because, in Britain, the default meaning of “bike” is motorcycle; a bike you pedal is called, oddly enough, a push bike. (I say "oddly" because, to my way of thinking, a bike you pedal should be called a pedal bike--a push bike would be a broken bicycle. In fact, I was so certain this should be the case that the first draft of this post had me referring to bicycles as "Pedal Bikes" instead of "Push Bikes" until a couple of sharp-eyes Brits put me right [see comments].) But whatever the case, when I revealed my intention of buying a "bike," my wife went a bit pale until I told her I meant a bicycle, and then she readily agreed (I suspect) out of sheer relief. The only stipulation was that I would not be allowed to wear Lycra.


No Lycra!
So, yeah, I got a bike.

But my intention is not to become a bike enthusiast; riding a bike, to me, is not a hobby, it is a means to an end, namely, the pub. Hence my lack of Lycra and inability to tell you anything about the bike I purchased other than it is grey and has lots of gears—many more than I need.

Also, it is sitting out in the garage, unused, where I suspect it will remain for some time. Sod’s Law, you see, kicked in the moment my decision was made. I went to get the bike in the pouring rain, rode it perhaps an eight of a mile (the bike shop is just around the corner) and put it in the garage, then went inside to dry off. The rain beat down all day and the flooding returned, followed by winter weather. As I write this, the snow is swirling around in gale-force winds and the temperature is rearranging the anatomy of various metallic primates. I have been checking weather forecasts all weekend, but even the extended forecast cannot predict the end of this current atmospheric balls-up, which leaves me—as I was last week at this time—peeking through the balcony door, grateful that I don’t actually have to be outside.


Sussex, now!
So, yeah, I got a bike.

12 comments:

  1. Um, with the help of your 'willies'? I am certain you mean 'wellies'...or maybe you don't and there's something you need to tell us....lol.

    Hope

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    1. Ha! Good catch! I fixed it, but maybe I should have left it like it was ;)

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  2. And just remember, you actually can be arrested for being drunk on a push bike. (I have never called it a pedal bike btw. Must be regional.)

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    1. Actually, I think it may be push-bike, but pedal-bike seems to make more sense to me. Whatever, as long as it wasn't a motorcycle, my wife is happy. And, yeah, biking under the influence is not in my plans--these days I'm all about quality, not quantity ;)

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    2. Anonymous11:20 PM

      I was brought up in the Southern England and never heard a bicycle referred to as a pedal bike. It was always push-bike or just bike.

      Although motorcyclists call themselves bikers and refer to their steeds as bikes, to the rest of the population a bike is a push-bike.

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    3. Oh well, that's what I get for not doing proper research (i.e. asking my wife) before I post these things. ;) Actually, I just dug through my "idea file" and--from a long, long time ago--found a note to myself noting that they call a "pedal bike" (my words) a "push bike" (the UK saying) here, so if I had bothered to look at my own notes, I would have spotted that. Seems a shame to change it now after all this discussion, so I'll just make a footnote explaining it.

      Thanks for the corrections!

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  3. Good for you, Mike. I hope you get to enjoy warm biking weather soon!

    Yes, push-bike sounds strange, but I guess pushing a bicycle is easier than pushing a motorcycle. Especially if it ends up on top of you.

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  4. You'll have to add Push-Bike to your list of UK words so you can talk like a native when you get over here ;)

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  5. The only time I've heard of a Pedal Bike is when it is referring to a young child's first bicycle. The type that training wheels attached.. You don't have these, do you Mike?

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    1. No, but perhaps I ought to ;)

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  6. So good luck with that bike now :)
    I just came over from Medeia's to say hi.
    Your books sound great.

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