Riding a bike: It's like riding a bike

Note: This column appears in the 7/30 issue of The Glendale Star and the 7/31 issue of the Peoria Times

I have started riding a bike again.

I had vowed to buy a bike from the moment we first moved here. Of course, I vowed to buy many things upon moving here and discovering the Arizona lifestyle, things that included a golf cart, a pool, an RV, a mister system, one of those Hummer / golf cart hybrids with the iron bars that families in our neighborhood use to go trick or treating, a barbeque built into a giant slap of concrete, and yes, a cowboy hat. To my surprise, many of the things on my wish list cost more money than I had anticipated, and I still cannot foresee a scenario in which it would be appropriate for me to wear a cowboy hat, nor can I find one that fits in a way that would prevent people from saying, “Look at that idiot in the cowboy hat.”

My most feasible desired item remained a bicycle. I saw myself riding my bike on a beautiful November morning next to my wife on her, more womanly bike. We would ride our bikes on the paths that weaved throughout our neighborhood and that hugged the desert landscape, and we would drink coffee with one hand and operate our bikes with the other. Inevitably we would run into our great new Arizona friends who were riding their bikes, and they would subsequently invite us over to their pool party, which would be awesome, because we don’t have a pool.

The only thing preventing me from realizing this dream was actually going to the store and buying a bike. Yet, I never did. I may have subconsciously been thwarted by the fact that I know nothing about bikes.

Opportunity arose a few weeks ago when a coworker of mine was helping a neighbor of his sell some stuff as he was moving out of state. He had a nice mountain bike he was looking to get rid of. So I bought it.

My wife -- who by the way, was never as enthusiastic about my morning-path-riding dreams -- was skeptical about my purchase, especially considering that two foster kids at home did not exactly leave much time to ride aimlessly around the neighborhood. Nevertheless, I couldn’t wait to take it for a spin.

It had been approximately 20 years since I had ridden a bike, so getting back on was kind of awkward, but also a thrill. I stayed on the sidewalk and the paths, as I loathe bikers in the street, and I really, truly enjoyed whizzing around town and just taking it all in.

The next time out I tried to test the mountainness of my bike by taking it down a small dirt path towards a paved one. I hit a rock and jumped off the bike before it tumbled to the ground, breaking off one of the reflectors in the process. The important thing was that nobody was watching. Because of that incident, I have yet to recapture the fearlessness of my youth. When I come to a curb, instead of just jumping it like I did back in the day, I come to a complete stop and then awkwardly lift the bike onto the sidewalk and continue riding. The only way I could look dorkier was if I were wearing a cowboy hat. Or, ya' know, the helmet that came with the bike.

Still, my new bike is great. I love riding around and shifting gears and stuff like I know what I’m doing. I love being able to do something outside in the summer without melting, as the hot breeze induced by riding a bike is strangely refreshing. I’m living the Arizona lifestyle out there, and that makes me feel good.

The only thing left to do is to get my wife a bike. Riding around alone is getting old.

I also need a new reflector.