Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

06 June 2010

Serendipities



I got up late today because last night, after riding, I stayed out until the wee hours of the morning. Then I couldn't sleep when I got home.

After showering and having a sort-of-vegetarian supper, I went to Columbus Circle  to meet Joe.  He lives in New Jersey and advertised a bike on Craig's List.  Last week, I sold my three-speed because it was small for me.  I liked the ride and look of it, but even with a long seatpost and stem, it never felt quite right.  Plus, I would have had to change saddles, as I did with my Mercians.  And that Raleigh three-speed, which was painted a bronze-greeen colour, simply would not have looked right with a new saddle.  (I had a brown Brooks--a very traditional leather saddle--on it.)

Anyway, Joe had some car troubles but finally made it to Columbus Circle.   His fiance, Deanna, accompanied him.  When they had just entered Manhattan, she called me.  "It's been a day from hell," she sighed.  I thought she said "date." 

"This is his idea of a date?," I wondered. 

She defended him; I laughed.   It wouldn't be the first time any of us laughed.

At any rate, the bike is what I'd anticipated:  It's a larger ladies' Scwhwinn Le Tour III, from around 1978.  The finish, once a rather nice pearlescent orange, is chipped, cracked and marred in all sorts of ways. But everything worked, and the price was right. 

I'm going to work on it.  I'll probably change the handlebars and seat, and I'm going to add  a rear rack and  fenders.  So it'll be a commuter/beater bike.

After I bought the bike, Joe and Deanna said they were heading downtown and invited me to accompany them to the Cafe Esperanto.  When we got there, we found that it had closed for good.  Instead, we went to Cafe Reggio, which I hadn't gone to in years.  It's not that I dislike the place:  They always have my respect for looking and acting like, rather than merely caricaturing, a funky bohemian cafe from back in the day.  Reggio served esperesso and cappucino before most Americans knew what they are; today Reggio's versions are still among the best.


But the best part was staying up half the night and talking about theatre (Joe is a sound engineer), art, politics and thinking generally.  He asked what I thought of Obama; after I explained why I've never been crazy about him, we got into a long conversation about foreign relations, conspiracy theories and such.  


It made me think of what my youth ight have been like if a few things had been different. It  was exhilarating to be on Macdougal Street, one of my old haunts, even if it was almost wall-to-wall people.  And there I was--the clean, sober woman I carried within me during those days of drunken bitterness.  Best of all--though it makes me a little sad now that it's the day after--is the way the conversation and their company stimulated me.  I almost never feel that way after spending time on campus, among some of my so-called educated coworkers and acquaintances.  That's one of the reasons why being at the college has been so dreadful lately:  In addition to all the pettiness, there is a severe lack of intellectual stimulation.


Ironic, isn't it, that I find mental stimulation on a Saturday night from a guy  who got a two-year degree and a woman who got her certification in cosmetology?  Also strange, n'est-ce pas, that in middle age, I'm finding the sorts of excitement I wanted in my youth, and that I found it when buying a used bike?


I guess that even when I find order in my life when I ride my bike, cycling also makes it--some way or another--unpredictable and serendipitous.



2 comments:

  1. New bike! Sounds like an excellent find - both the bike and its sellers. Please take pictures as you restore and accessorise it!

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  2. Congrats on the new commuter! Did you find a nice home for the Raleigh?

    Justine, don't sell yourself short as a writer - or a thinker.
    I've never been to the part of the world where you live, but you've given it shape and substance in my mind. Not a minor feat, there.

    In regards to your comment about the often-very-narrow world of academia, It is spot on in my experience out here on the west coast, too.

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