"So, do you want to buy a bike and come on "The Social" with us?"
"Buy a what now?"
"A bike, you know, that thing that you pedal around outside?"
I silently held an inner dialogue with myself.
"Hmmm, how long has it been since you've ridden a bike?"
"Well, about two years now."
"Do you still remember how to do it?"
"I'm not quite sure..."
"Would you seriously injure yourself, and since you would be in front of a large group of people, embarrass yourself horribly as well?"
"Chances are: Yes!"
Return to conversation with Nick.
Our roommate Mo was gung-ho about purchasing a bike even before we arrived on the scene in Austin. Being from New York, he has never owned a vehicle, and biking was his only other option. After we were settled comfortably into our new apartment, Mo began participating in "The Yellow Bike Project" which is essentially a program in which you offer your time and help to earn yourself a bike. Pretty awesome if you ask me.
Yesterday morning I woke up to a clanky, road-worn bicycle in our living room. So, the bike craze began with Mo, and then events fell into place from there. Our good friend, Jordan, bikes to and from work and to and from the grocery store. Basically he has no use for his car except to tote his bike from starting point to starting point. We met him at his bar a few nights ago, and he spent a good two hours explaining the in's and the out's of being a cyclist in Austin. He pulled out his handy shiny bike tools, explaining each gadget thoroughly. He showed us his new bike, beaming as we examined the rubber, custom-keyboard handlebars down to the very expensive seat, which he guards with his life.
I was beginning to see that this Bike Culture here in Austin would be similar to all the other crazes, and I was going to be sucked in whether I liked it or not. It was going to be like yoga for me. First you get a mat. Then you advance from your stinky high school gym shorts to legitimate yoga pants. Biking is the same way. I'm sure I'll upgrade soon from my cut-off denim to one of those tidy hot-pink spandex numbers.
It wasn't a problem to find me a bike to borrow, since everyone bikes in Austin. We all met at a starting point on the east side by Lady Bird Lake. As we pedaled into the specified meeting place I felt nothing short of surprise. Nick and I made comments on the similarities of the vibe between this Biking Social and Warped Tour. There were people dressed in high top socks and heels! How are they supposed to pedal in those? There was one guy who rode a bike made of 4 or 5 bike frames stacked on top of each other. His bike must have been 30 feet high. I kid you not. I felt shameful wondering how I was going to balance on my bike compared to frustrations that guy must be having way up there!
People had boom boxes on the back of their bikes playing bad rap and old punk rock. People had coolers filled with bud light and PBRs. One girl was even riding around with a bottle of champagne which she was generously sharing with a bunch of other buzzed and sweaty bikers.
"Let's Go!" a gruff voice shouted. That must be Keith, I thought to myself, the man who organizes this monster. Everyone is so cooperative and careful to shout out things like "Car front", which indicates a car is coming from ahead. Duh! And "Stopping! Stopping!", whenever we come to a red light. I even shouted "car front!" once just to see how it felt to seem liked I was an experienced biker. Nobody was fooled.
The take-off was shaky. At least two or three bikers crashed during those first two minutes of the ride. Several tires blew out over the course of the 15 miles. Those tumblers must have had a bit too much to drink. Jordan swooped up next to me not long after we had taken off, "Hey Meg, you may want to watch yourself. You just cut off Christina." "Oh sorry" I mumbled. I didn't know I was supposed to watch out for other people. Wasn't it their responsibility to watch out for me?
There must have been three hundred of us, "save the environment, love your body" bikers on the road that night. I don't take any political stands by being part of these rides. I simply like the company and to be part of something new. A hundred blinking red lights flew ahead of me. I turned behind me to see a hundred more white lights winking at me. The air was cool. It was a perfect night. I concentrated on quick hills, fast turns, being considerate to my fellow bikers, and speed bumps. I gained a whole new perspective last night. Austin, why are you so weird?
And now I'd like to add something that has nothing to do with bikes, or Austin, or weirdness. Well, maybe weirdness. I'd like to introduce you to my little sister's blog. (No, not the odd-ball which some of you know as Dia) The girl after that. Her name is Jade, like the pretty green stone. She is an aspiring journalist/screenwriter studying in Arkansas right now. In the meantime, while working on her degree, she entertains herself by being a super-star tennis player. I love hearing about her life, because it reminds me of me in college. She's so curious and so eager, and has a very, very beautiful heart. She pretends to be interested in how she's going to make a living, get through college, pay the rent, but really she's just interested in what all the rest of us are interested in: love.
Please visit her blog here and tell her "hi" from me: http://www.isgreenjaded.tumblr.com