Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

03 October 2011

Balancing Acts

Meteorologists are saying that this is already the seventh-wettest year on record here in New York.  And we have almost three months left in the year.  So, while we may not have the wettest year ever, it seems that this year will almost certainly be among the wettest five, or even four.

Don't you just love it when TV and meteorologists talk about "going for a record," as if there's anything we can do about it? I mean, it's not like we're sprinters and this is the Olympics or the Tour de France. Or--given that this is October--it's not like we're Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera in the baseball playoffs.

It does seem, though, that anything done outdoors--whether riding a bike, playing a baseball game or holding a street fair--involves striking a balance with the risk of rain.  How much of a chance do you want to take?  How much can or will you do before the rain falls, and under what conditions do you want to continue?  

Anyway, the other day Lakythia, Mildred and I went on one of those "playing chicken with the rain" rides where we did some miles and stopped in a couple of bike shops. Mildred didn't like the bike she'd just bought, so she wanted to exchange it.  However, she also wanted to see another had to offer before going to the shop where she bought the bike.

She'd bought some absolutely hideous-looking Trek road model.  I don't know how it rode, but I could understand her wanting to exchange it because of its sheer garishness (Is that an oxymoron?) alone.  In its place, she got a much prettier (white with emerald green panels and black trim) Specialized Dolce, which I think also fit her better.  

Anyway, our ride ended when she exchanged the bike at Bicycle Habitat in Soho, where I was fitted for, and purchased, Arielle, Helene and Tosca.  I was going to ride with them to Brooklyn, then back to my place, but the Brooklyn Bridge was closed in the wake of the protests.  

And it was starting to rain.  I confessed, "I might just wimp out and take the train home."  

"I simply can't imagine you doing that!," said Lakythia.

So, even though the rain was falling harder by the minute, I rode.  The funny thing was that I somehow felt safer than I would have had the weather remained dry.  Perhaps it had to do with the fact that fewer people were out than one might normally expect when it's getting dark on a Saturday.

At least I didn't suffer what this rider experienced:  

No, I didn't ride with an umbrella the other night. However, I have done that trick before, and I've seen other cyclists--particularly in England and France--using one hand to navigate and the other to (perhaps futilely) keep dry.

Now, of course, everyone who's ever made deliveries on a bicycle has ridden one-handed while using his other hand to carry whatever he was delivering.  Plus, I'm sure many of us have stopped, bought (or picked up) something and carried it home in one hand.  

Once, I carried home a chair I picked up from a curbside.  Another time, I lugged a torchiere-style floor lamp.  I can recall a couple of times when I brought back pizzas that I balanced on one hand (once when I was drunk) as I piloted the bike with the other.  

But, perhaps my strangest (and noblest) bit of one-handed riding came when I picked up a little dog that, apparently, got lost or was abandoned and had never been outside her home before. She looked like one of those dogs that Posh Spice might carry as an accessory.  No one claimed her, and she had a collar but no tag.

I was riding home from a late class and I pedaled down one of the neighborhood's main commercial streets in the hope of finding a vet's office or animal shelter.  No such luck.  Even I'd found one, it might have been closed at that hour.  So, after ambling down that street, and another commercial area, I brought the dog--I don't know what breed she was, exactly--to the local police precinct.  I hoped that, from there, she made it home, or to a home.  At least, I figured, she was off the streets, where she could easily have been run over.  I have to admit, though, that I enjoyed bringing that dog in just to see the expressions on the police officers' faces:  There's nothing like watching macho guys get mushy.

What have you carried during a one-handed bike ride?


  1. I have seen people carry a baby in one arm and ride with the other. In fact, I know of one guy, who dropped the baby in a collision with an automobile and ...

    I have ridden with one hand only and no hands, but I never carried anything in the "free" hand.

    Peace :)

  2. My balancing skills are not that great. My husband on the other hand has the skill and always gets elected to carry my sons unfinished Icecream cone, so my son can finish it at home. It's a short distance bike ride from the stand to our house, but that cone would end up all over the road or on me if I had to carry it :).