Friday, September 26, 2008

Old Bike

There it sits, the Schwinn that was my ride for years, not spared the indignity of being seen with flat tires, cracked sidewalls, and rust. Since this photo was taken, when I was going to list it for a dollar on Craig's List, I have pumped up the tires (the tubes, amazingly, are intact) and scrubbed some of the rust from the frame and parts, and hatched a much more foolhardy plan: perhaps I can turn it into an Xtracycle. As I noted in a rambling comment on Carbon Trace, the frame is a very sturdy one and the fact that I could not carry an Xtracycle up the three flights of stairs (see apartment building visible in the bike photo for the kind of stairs we're talking about) is no deterrent to this strange dream of keeping my longtime bike with me. Refurbishing, even without the Xtracycle free radical attachment, would be costly, which is why I bought a new bike instead in the first place. I don't need two bikes; I've got a rack and panniers on the new one, but still, the idea is taking on a life of its own. I keep the old tires full now, waiting.
That bike and I, we went places together.

Post Scriptum: Listening to a bit of Elvis Costello, as what could be more appropriate after McCain got his American History wrong ? So, here are the lyrics, by J.B. Lenoir, that Costello croons and rocks in the sadly apt "Eisenhower Blues." Music here.

Hey everybody, I was talkin' to you
I ain't tellin' you jivin', this is the natural truth
Mm mm mm, I got them Eisenhower blues
Thinkin' about me and you, what on earth are we gonna do?

My money's gone, my fun is gone
The way things look, how can I be here long?
Mm mm mm, I got them Eisenhower blues
Thinkin' about me and you, what on earth are we gonna do?

Taken all my money, to pay the tax
I'm only givin' you people, the natural facts
I only tellin' you people, my belief
Because I am headed straight, on relief
Mm mm mm, I got them Eisenhower blues
Thinkin' about me and you, what on earth are we gonna do?

Ain't go a dime, ain't even got a cent
I don't even have no money, to pay my rent
My baby needs some clothes, she needs some shoes
Peoples I don't know what, I'm gonna do
Mm mm mm, I got them Eisenhower blues
Thinkin' about me and you, what on earth are we gonna do?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I'm Back

Whew. That was close. I almost became a regular blogger back there in August. I've been so busy, happily so, adjusting to the new job and trying to get into a rhythm of biking to work. I seem to have had the opposite problem of John at Cycling in Wichita, who was having trouble with cooler temperatures; the heat was getting to me. No reason to sweat, the slow bike movement claims, unless, you know, your ride involves going uphill on the home commute and it's a humid 80+. So I waited. We also had some fierce weather, as in lightning almost every afternoon, but the idea of biking in remained a siren song. Now, I've had some beautiful mornings, and I'm fairly addicted to mornings in the high 60's-low 70's, the ride up past beautiful farmhouses and green lawns (I settled on a longer route than the one I filmed, to avoid the car-whizzing road on the most direct route). I'm out at about 6:45, and here is the thing I enjoy most amid the dewy fog rising off of the green all around me, the dark lifting to orange, and it's a funny and poignant sight all at once: high-schoolers waiting for their buses. I turn the bike out onto the street, and halfway up the block are a gaggle of children in uniform, mostly African-American, who by now are getting used to me, but for whom I provided quite a spectacle at first glance. Adults, of course, are so ridiculous. Giggles, "where she goin' ?"; "hey, it's bike lady." Up and over the hill, where the road opens to farms and houses set back behind trees, it's mostly white kids, two or lone standing at street signs, already dressed to perfection in the costume of their tribe. My favorite is two punk girls: the tunics, the tights, the leather boots, gelled hair, black eyeliner, lacquered lips and nails, who never fail to stare in open-mouthed wonder and disdain as I ride past. They look so awkward and assured all at once. I suppose the adjective is incongruous: me, with the cool of the air on my skin and the scent of morning making its way past my cappuccino fueled self, while they scan for the bus, anxious as if something might mar them before the yellow doors swing open and sweep them off to their world, backpacks and cellphones, lockers and rules, that beautiful and ruthless self-consciousness of teenagers, two of whom lean against the street post, snicker, and silently telegraph what the hell are you looking at ? But I see their eyes slide as the bike glides by, how freely it escapes the yellow behemoth coming up from behind as they await the hiss and the hot air of the unfolded doors and I ride on.