256. Ride Your Bike to Work (or else)

Today is National Bike to Work (or School)  Day. Our Seattle mayor, Mike McGinn, has proclaimed that in observance of the occasion, we have to ride our bikes to work today.

Octo-woman has a problem with this. She is frantic because she doesn’t exactly own a bike. That means she has to borrow one from somebody.

Don’t scoff, kiddo.  I may be going on 80, but at one time,- as far back as 1935 –  I was considered to be an accomplished cyclist.  True, I had to share my rusty Radio Flyer trike with my sister Joan, but I put the pedal to the metal with the greatest of ease and enthusiasm. Everybody said so.

As with all dedicated athletes, I eventually advanced to the next level – a two-wheeler.  My next bike looked a lot like this.  Like the photo, it wasn’t really mine though. I had to share it with Joan and our three brothers, but while my time at the wheel was limited, I logged as many miles, spills, skinned knees, bruises, cuts and abrasions as is worthy of any Olympian.  Of course, helmets were unheard of in those days, but I was undeterred. 

Eventually, I got a little more time on the bike because my siblings got fed up when the chain on the pedals persisted in coming apart. My dad kept soldering it together but It would only hold for a block or two and then I’d have to turn around and wheel it back home.  This was disconcerting, and it may explain why my athletic ability was temporarily diverted to the only other sport in which I ever engaged – the game of jacks. 

It wasn’t till high school that I re-discovered biking.  My best friend Louise Mackey and I used to rent a tandem bike and ride on it all over town.  I remember we had a lot of trouble learning to ride the thing, but we eventually mastered it.  We didn’t really care for bicycling that much, but it was a great way to attract boys.  

The wheels didn’t help improve our athletic prowess that much, but they certainly helped us make our mark on the local teen scene in Cedar Rapids.  Especially impressed were the paperboys who recognize quality biking when they see it.

Once grown-up and married, I continued my ongoing involvement with bikes, but only in a supervisory capacity.  Our seven children acquired two and three wheelers of all sizes and shapes, but I managed to avoid piloting any of them.

Before the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair was to be launched, my husband Gene and a buddy dreamed up a money-making scheme involving rental bikes in a kiosk on the fairgrounds. A great way to see the fair and to explore Seattle downtown, they figured.   

Gene and the buddy, “assisted” by our sons, Mark and Matthew, assiduously assembled all the bicycles and got their little shop set up at the Seattle Center.  Then came the coldest “summer” in history.  The World’s Fair opened in April, and I still shiver to remember the months that followed.  By the time it was nearly over, Emmett Watson, one of our newspaper columnists, wistfully wrote, “When the long hot summer comes, I hope it falls on a Sunday”. 

Nobody, to speak of, rented the bikes.  Indoors was the best place to survive that dreadful summer, not out pedaling the hills of our frigid city.  At the end of it, Gene and company had a bunch of bikes to get rid of.  I wish I had one of them right now so I could cycle to work this morning, as our Mayor McGinn insists.

Since the failure of the bike rental enterprise, my only other cycling experience was helping produce “One Wheel Jammin”, a video tutorial on how to unicycle. It can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about how to master the use of this vehicle, but I have way too much good sense to try it myself.  

So here we are today – on National Bike to Work Day.  What shall I do?  I don’t have a bike.  And, worse yet, I work at home.  Even if somebody will lend me a bike, I don’t know how to ride it from the laundry room to the kitchen.  It’s way too crowded for a very big bike.

But Octo-woman to the rescue.  Difficult problems require creative solutions.  I will be able to bike to work after all.  I shall engage the services of son Matthew’s stationary bike.  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

And, see, it worked!  Here I am, at work, writing this blob.

I know Mayor McGinn appreciates the effort it took for me to meet his mandate about riding my bike to work.  It’s okay, though, Your Honor, please don’t give me any awards or anything.  I was just doing my duty.

 “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Albert Einstein

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One Response to 256. Ride Your Bike to Work (or else)

  1. Linda Lewis says:

    Hi Pat,
    You have not heard from me for awhile because I have been ‘commuting’ to Portland and back to Seattle, it seems. Amtrak has Wi Fi on the train, but when I heard my Dad was on his way to emergency, I hopped the next train with computer, but forgot my charger. Dad had a slight heart attach on a Friday, but by Monday, they could not keep him in bed. In fact, they moved him by the nurses station because he kept getting out of bed. He did not want to bother the nurses, so of course, four showed up when the buzzer blared.
    Now regarding bicyles…I had an ordeal with my sister in that area. She is four years older. Of course I always got her bike or that ever. I remember riding down the block when I was four, she on her two wheeler and me on my tricyle yelling, “Wait for me!!!”
    Then I get her old bike and she gets a three speed. Same thing. Then in college, I get her three speed and she gets a ten speed. I stopped riding with her then.
    Now I have a 21 speed and she lives far away in snow country.
    I’m actually meeting up with her the end of June to go hiking with her in Yellowstone. I think I finally caught up with her.

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