Nothing prepares you for joining the Crumpled Bike Club.
My class of four women, including a mom-daughter pair, was going well. We’d just completed the Wombat “Wimpy Track Stand” followed by a few good stabs at the in vivo version of ‘sur place’ (the very ol’ fashioned term I learned from Victor Vincente of America). There was some truly creative “Body English As a Second Language” phrases being thrown down under the valley oaks.
We were in a new ‘abusement park’ , since the usual environs was reverberating from the skilsawing ( the sound track to our mini building boom).
A corner of the horse-stable parking lot seemed ideal. Shady, and light traffic.
A humongous bruiser pickup truck pulled in, and came to a stop on the edge of my imaginary circus tent-circle.
“WE IN YOUR WAY?” I yelled, forgetting he wasn’t my student.
This stable is situated on public land, but it’s always good form to say something–anything– when dealing with horses and horse people. They always appreciate it.
He said, “no way. I’m in YOUR way… let me know if you need me to move”.
A big friendly guy. Wth a big frightening truck. The kind of truck where the grill is around shoulder level. He headed off to tame an appaloosa or shovel something.
“Right, now about those Bug Stomper moves!” I cried, returning to my suddenly adept ladies (happens every timeI turn my back). “No, that’s too dainty. Way too dainty…crush the bug!”
Half the fun of being the circus master/bike professor is making up inane skills names for the ‘sillybus’.
Then a quick demo (to an inner voice-over: “a vision in practical plaid wool –a unpleated miniskirt over grime-fighting black tights, another victory in the war against Lycra ..” it was a hot, very fine day and I was sweating big time,correcting tiny mistakes like a real old bat-larina. Then re-mount the bike, show it, tell it, throw it down, ad nauseum. Throat-roughening stuff.
Four women of varying skills make different kinds of noises from the honest-to-goddess beginner’s “whoops!” followed by a hasty “sorry..” to the regular rider’s familiar grunt that accompanies a move made, but only just.
Four voices yelled NOOOOOO! in unison, and i looked behind me (l’austin space, mixing fashion, crash-avoidance, and some attention on the task at hand)
The man in the blue truck had just started up his rig and driven on top of my beloved Breezer.
A shared bellow from five women as he backs quickly over the bike one more time, folding the handlebars in a most unpleasant way. The metal noise from forks and tubes crumpling brought out a bit of a neighborhood crowd.
I ran over as he jumped out, and we both stood there in shock. My Breezer looked well-ironed.
“It was an accident“ he blurted.
I thought about how, just a few minutes earlier, I was crouched over the bike–equally out of view–putting my water bottle away.
And in a scary foreshadowy moment, I told Rupa that Indra had committed a cyclist faux pas: laying the bike down in the street. On the trail, I call this ‘Bike Shop In The Fire Road’.
Extra points if the bike is upside down, well-centered, and perpendicular to the ‘good’ line.
So is stopping on yr bike without pulling over…It’ a sign of good breeding (or coaching) to leave a clear path for the next person coming along. With six million people in the metro area, that means in the next minute or so…
“Here, I’ll pay you for it..” he said, reaching into his pocket.
“You can’t possibly have a thousand dollars in your pocket. Right now, it’s debris. I’ll have to carry it home. Let’s mull this over, maybe you can talk to your car insurer.” I said calmly, not betraying the heinous rotten illness developing in my gut. I had just noticed how the down tube resembled a toothpaste tube squeezed in the middle. Handlebars both pointed the same direction. This was my ride everyday, all-errands AND big distances bike. NOT a cruiser, NOT a commuter, NOT a racer. But all three.
Maybe my bike isn’t a thousand dollars. In 1995 it was two and a half thousand dollars. They aren’t made now… Well, here at Taj Mahovel people think bikes grow on trees (honestly, someone told me that, like Charlie lifts up some dirt and sprinkles it on some tubes and a bike emerges).
Stay tuned for part 2.