I never thought I'd be a biker. I'm not particularly locomotive. Uncomfortable at more than pedestrian speeds, utterly panicked by roller coasters and self-soiling on mopeds or motorbikes, I used to gasp at the sight of New York bikers. Part in awe and part in old-lady disgust ("the nerve!") I would watch them zip around delivery trucks, brave the West Side highway, cut around traffic like scissors clipping paper dolls. They were a different species of human, tougher and dumber.
But Chicago presents a different set of conditions for the cyclist. Streets are wider. Bike paths cover the city from North Side to South. The land is so flat that I found myself distractedly annoyed by having to walk along it, when I could be rolling on something. My apartment is a 13 minute walk from campus, but the idea of a 3 minute ride (= ten extra minutes of doing nothing at home!) bothered me like a pop-up ad whenever I left the house.
So I bought a bike. I purposefully concealed this from my family. They would no doubt have argued against it or given me long lectures on road prudence and basic Newtonian theory. But like the Egyptian chick finding moses in a picnic basket (Sorry, been a while since I read Mother Goose), I knew it had to be mine the second I saw it. I paid the previous owner of this red-brown Schwinn Cruiser a reasonable ransom and took off with the bike, which I rechristened Cherry Cola, to the surprising realization that I was positively FILLED with an unreasonable elation, a high. It would have been appropriate if Falcor's theme from the "Neverending Story" had blazed from the sky. I flew down the street, past the Museum of Science and Industry into the nature sanctuary behind it, around the big pond, and then over to the University campus and back home, feeling like a mythical combination of a grade-schooler and an eagle (a greaglooler.)
I'm still not going to be one of those sickos that slices around garbage trucks and zips down the highway. I clocked my ride to campus this morning at 8 min, which means I am only going SLIGHTLY faster than my walking speed. But who's counting? As Santa said in the Old Testament, "Texas is for lovers." I think Cherry Cola and I are in our own happy Texas.
Now maybe it's time to do some schoolwork, huh? Iron out my reference literature...