community, joy, meditation

Cruisin’ around town

Yesterday, I bought a new bike! I have to admit, I haven’t tried to own one in a long time–where would I store it? Where would I ride it, and in what free time? The last time I owned a bike was the Jeep bike (Jeep makes bikes?? Not a great sign…) I bought when starting grad school–it weighed a ton, the seat kept sinking no matter what I tried to fix it, and New Jersey drivers are often terrifying when I am also in a 2,000 pound metal box so no thank you, I would not be riding an airbag-less stick to class.

I got rid of the bike. Grad school would not mean a return to the joys of my childhood and riding around all day, earning a stripe up my back after it rained. In the pre-coronial world, space was limited, I was averse to the elements, and I depleted my energy by working all the jobs.

Fast forward to now, and the world has changed. I have time. For the first part of quarantine, I dated a good person who likes bike riding and invited me to join by providing a spare bike of his and a helmet. I saw how simple it was to get up and go outside, that there are paths everywhere, and that riding on the streets is okay if the streets are wide enough. The risk isn’t absent, but minimal and manageable.

But I also discovered that bike handles, much like the computer, stress my wrists, and my old-lady back needs more of an upright seat. Surely, this type of bike is harder to come by.

Nope! It’s called a cruiser, and I am not the only one whose back needs to not bend over for the bike riding. And walking in to the used bike store yesterday, there were many of them! And now one of them is mine. I didn’t even notice until getting to the park that it has a perfect, functioning, loud and cheerful bell, and I squealed with joy. This might just be the return to that level of childhood glee.

I wasn’t actively looking before, and since this was the first place I visited that actually sold them, I wasn’t expecting to find this perfect (to me) bike. After all, there is something of a bike shortage–stores are sold out, and there was quite a line to get in to the secondhand place. And yet, despite the expected scarcity, there were plenty to choose from. It was practically a bike emporium. I have been through enough bikes that didn’t fit to know what I needed–I found mine really quickly, but something about it spoke to me! The choosing wasn’t hard. The cruising, the enjoying it wasn’t hard.

The practical stuff (ie. the transporting it home) was hard. I’ve watched my dad install the trunk bike rack hundreds of times, but not in a while, and I doubt I’d ever helped. It’s harder than it looks! But I was thankful for the providence that I needed one, and the used bike place happened to have (only!) one to sell. The universe was looking out for me. Despite a clumsy installation, the marvels of science allowed the bike to not fall off the car before the trail, or before going to the local bike shop (support local businesses, even when they are sold out of bikes!) and buying a lock (and having the wonderful employee adjust the bike rack).

And so, though working from home has compromised my wrists and I certainly need more leg strength before completing longer or more challenging rides, I now have the capability to get out there and move, to feel the breeze on my skin.

All this to say, after many months of mostly staying in one place, I’m getting out and about in safe ways. After many months of zoom, my kundalini class now meets in person, outdoors! It’s a half-hour drive, so not a chance in hell I’m biking there, but it’s even more majestic and centering under the shade of tall trees and to the tune of frogs and bugs chirping, and the day I ventured to the new location was humid as hell but full of bright blue sky.

I appreciated the meditation and stretching and the company of people I hadn’t seen in person since March, but I also appreciated the drive there and home. I passed the farm that has the fall festival where my best friend and I bought peach wine and apple cider donuts and locally grown blueberries. I passed my favorite little intersection with the weird-angled streets, greenery, and cute farm/houses on my way to a job where I used to be miserable. I knew the “caution: fox crossing” sign would still be at that sweet curve in the road just beyond and I hoped, as ever, that people were taking care and slowing down. I almost missed the turn in to this special little oasis because of how overgrown and non-commercial the winding gravel driveway is, and I oozed gratitude for having found my way past, through, around everything in order to get there.

Yesterday was bike day, and today it is raining and cold and my poor little bike is locked up out in the rain. Things at present locally and nationally are not looking “up,” not getting back to normal, and everything is perpetually in flux at best, but I’m trying to find ways to move (and sit still.. #meditation) that work for my body and brain during this phase of treading water. I know my next purchase will be a bike cover. Dare I say, the outlook actually looks pretty good!

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