Back to riding my bike in Durham, NC

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My Daddy used to offer to buy me a bicycle. I didn't want one. While I was in junior high I got one for Christmas. Can't remember if I evinced a desire or he simply thought I should have one. It was one of those funny looking bicycles: a banana peel shaped seat with high handlebars. One afternoon on leaving school I found the bike vandalized, ruined. My father found a cast iron bike, an unpainted grey monster of a bike. I'd use it to make my Tuesday comics run.

I didn't ride a bike again until Siobhan and I were staying in Savannah. We bought a cheap bike at a thrift store because we were out in Savannah's suburbs. Mostly I remember riding it to my mother's apartment so I could watch Space Giants (she had cable it was on WTBS, the beginning of Ted Turner's empire that would evolve in to Turner Classic Movies, the Cartoon Network, &etc.).

In Atlanta, Ray, a friend of Gordon's let me borrow his until it was stolen. I never paid him for it or the loan he gave me. Sometimes in my early twenties I was a self-serving asshole.

Mostly I moved about the country too much to own anything as large as a bike. I can't imagine riding one in San Francisco with all the hills or Manhattan with its perpetual gridlock.

Shortly after opening Books Do Furnish A Room my bike was stolen. It was a beat-up but serviceable one I'd bought from a friend for $20. My lover of five years had just left me and I got fat, very fat.

Far too many years later sanity returned. Quarts of rum and many cans of malt liquor became things of the past as well as eating enough for a family of four. Bill Ewald, a nice fellow who used to call my old computer BBS gave me a bike he wasn't using anymore. At first going up an incline would leave my lungs burning. Steady riding cured that.

I don't even know how to operate a car. With the bike I no longer had to ask for rides to buy groceries, clothes, whatever. I became addicted to biking. I rode the bike so heavily that it began to fail. I gave it to our impressively weird employee of the time, the (thankfully fired) Timothy.

Durham Cycle Center is a block from my bookshop. I could've gone the fairly famous Performance Bikes in Chapel Hill but it seemed prudent to buy the bike from the shop I'd be going to for repairs and maintenance.

My criteria were simple: sturdy and cheap. The clerk was amiable and convince (what the heck did I know about Bikes, I don't think Google was around then, I may have used the old Deja News to scan the bicycling newsgroups - no use it was filled with bike snobs). I bought a Trek Hybrid (a compromise he told me between the designs of a commuting bike and a mountain bike).

Once replying to a Yahoo personal ad from someone who lived near my store I told him I was the guy who rode the blue Trek past his house at least twice a day.

I rode that bike everywhere. Sometimes I just cruise about. Or if I needed a pretext to get me on the saddle I'd ride to the other side of Durham to by toothpaste at Wall-Mart). Being on a bike was great for thinking, not necessarily about anything important. Wish I'd had a weblog/journal back then. Within five years I'd managed to wear the Trek out (a friend who was a bike fiend was, um, impressed when he saw what I'd done). Early on I had to buy heavy Kevlar tires to prevent the weekly blowouts.

Back to Durham Cycle Center. Another Trek, indistinguishable to my eyes from the other bike. Cheaper though, they were having a sale.

When I met Charles he'd encourage me to let him take me places. My bike riding dwindled eventually ceased. At times life with Charles has been hellish. And I started drinking and overeating again, but thankfully never descending to my earlier perverse depth.

A few months I started riding again. Not nearly as often before but a beginning. Right after having the bike tuned up I went to the outbuilding to find it stolen.

I've been selling my old comics on eBay. With $850 dollars from a recent sale I figured it was time to buy a new bike. I feel trapped without a bike, dependant on Charles. While I can always get a ride from Gordon or Yance I missed being able to go as whim directed.

And I don't like my stomach. Clearly I'm someone who has to exercise to stay tolerable looking. Not to mention healthy.

Back to the Durham Cycle Center. Today I bought a Specialized "hotrock" hybrid Being a 2002 model they had it marked down ($100 off). My only concern that my bike be big enough and sturdy. Since I ride on and off curbs the shock absorbers seemed a nifty feature.

I knew riding the bike home from the shop might be tough. My lungs protested and my knees hurt but I was surprised at the effort it took to keep my upper-body up. I may have to toddle about the neighborhood a bit before I can commute to work. There are a few steep inclines on the way to the shop.

And I feel skittish without a helmet. Lady, our outside dog, tore up my old helmet. I'm lucky my fall on West Club Boulevard a few years ago only led to a blood drenched face.

I always feel good, an afterglow, after exercise. I've never understood why the Palovian response didn't lead me to exercise for the sensual delight. Of course if we knew why we don't do the wise act that leads to happiness and pleasure we'd be a mighty different race.

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