Whiskey, you’re the devil.

September 12, 2010 at 6:17 am (adventure, bicycles, life! a lover!, urban exploration)

I’ve learned recently that perhaps one oughtn’t announce that one has a new blog at the same time that one obtains a new bicycle. Writers, take note.

I went to Volpe Cycles on their first day in the new center city shop after their move from Fishtown. I admired their collection of art nouveau bicycle prints and accepted their offer of a locally brewed coffee porter and my first taste of Marmite, offered by a young man from the town in Staffordshire where it is produced as a by-product of beer-making. Once we’d attended to that business, I got to inspecting their newly arrived collection of Linus bikes, who bill themselves as “a simple, affordable, elegant bike for riding around and doing stuff,” and cite midcentury French film as a primary design influence. I’d planned on getting their three-speed cruiser. I’m used to hand brakes; I like being able to go up hills. But seeing the machines in person, I was strangely drawn to the roadster classic, the pretty simplicity of it. I asked if I might ride it around the block, expecting a brief romance, some taste of what other people’s bicycles might feel like. On the third leg of the block I paused next to a church to dismount and admire, to collect my thoughts alone before going back to the shop. It was a lovely little thing, weightless compared to my first cruiser, and fast. A man in the church had a microphone, and was serenading us with the love song from Ghost.

Needless to say, the bicycle and I embraced, and when I did return to the shop, I was flushed and speechless. Once I managed to compose myself with the aid of another cheese and marmite hors d’oeuvre, I asked if I might try the Dutch style bicycle. On the road, I couldn’t believe how sluggish it felt despite its being quite light. I paused at the same spot in order to reflect, and the gentleman in the church was singing a sub-par love song. My choice seemed obvious. I got the single speed roadster in cream with brown leather, and I named him Errol Flynn.

My first bike, a red vintage Dutch-style cruiser by Schwinn, was a mad, desperate love affair. I talked about her constantly. I’d joke that my bike was a fat girl, but I loved that fat girl, and couldn’t imagine hauling anything else up and down my front stairs every day. She was always broken and breaking, but she got me to work in half the time that it took to walk or take the subway, and she turned getting there into such a grand adventure. I called her Whiskey Glitter Run Away, and I sang her Irish drinking songs while I laughed and dodged cars on these tiny South Philly streets. She’ll always be my first love, but I see now that I tried to make it work for far longer than was reasonable. I imagine the poor old girl seething in the basement, cuckholded by this prettier, faster, more expensive toy. I do intend to take her into the shop to force her back into a reasonable condition, mostly because I’d like a winter bike that I don’t mind beating up with road salt and bad weather, but for now I’m too distracted with riding this pretty young thing to think about it.


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