When I started riding, there were only one or two women who I personally knew who participated in the sport with the zest that I had for it. Hence, I have always ridden with the “boys”. And to this day, I am perfectly comfortable even if I am the only girl who shows up for a ride. Most of the other riders treat me like one of the guys and I am okay with that. I attribute some of that to the fact that my brothers let their little kid sister hang around with them when they did their boy things. Like I said, I know they won’t admit it, but I think they really needed my mechanical expertise. I am sure that I gave them lots of good toddler advice back then on how that crescent wrench could make that go cart faster. A little turn here, a tinker there...
Anyway, I started out like most kids. Got a tricycle and cruised around making hell for everyone in my path and leaving lots of marks on my parent's walls. Hey, you give a kid a bike for Christmas, think about it people. It’s cold outside and usually there is snow on the ground. I had to ride somewhere!!! So laps around the dining room into the kitchen and the TV room seemed like the best place at the time. And luckily I was a cute kid, because my parents barely noticed the huge black marks I was making everywhere inside the house at the time. “Oh isn’t she so cute!!” FYI, this only works for cute toddlers on their new bikes. Don’t try this as an adult…..just trust me on this people.
I remember when I was a little older and I got my first adorable pink banana seat bike with the flowers and the basket. Oh man. Nothing makes a kid happier than their first “real” bike. I remember the freedom that came with that bike and being able to ride to my best friend’s house down the block. Yeah, it’s the little things that make a kid “cool”. However, I wasn’t always so adept at riding on the bike. "That part isn’t exactly in my genes." Both my Mom and my Uncle never even learned to ride a bike having grown up in the city. And I recall a very traumatic day when I they took the training wheels off of that hot little pink bike. I guess my balance was a little off that day and I crashed into the parked car of one of our neighbors. Now any other neighbor would have come running out to see if I was okay. Nope, I picked the car of the nastiest neighbor I could find. This compassionate soul came running out shouting at me for crashing into her car and threatening to call my parents so they could pay for the damage. Thanks neighbor lady….remind me to tag your house with shaving cream on Halloween for all your assistance in my time of need. Bitch.
The next great bike I recall getting was my first ten speed which was a Christmas gift. That got stolen right out the yard. I learned that day that you can’t trust anyone and bikes belong INSIDE the garage because people suck. I also learned about the illusion of "Homeowner's Insurance."
Not long after that, I put a cute little ten speed on layaway at the local bike shop and paid it off a little every week. This was before I knew what a credit card was so the only way to pay was to visit it every week with whatever little money I had to put toward it. Plus, if I recall, the shop owner's son was cute so I may have made more visits to that store for "payoff" than I needed to. Once I finally picked that beauty up, I rode it everywhere. I was lucky enough to have a great 4.5 mile bike path that let me ride right from my house to the paved path and down to our local beach. I was hooked. I would ride that path back and forth 3 times in a row every day for a total of 27 miles. In the big ring. Against the wind, well at least in one direction. I felt like Rocky. If Rocky was a cyclist and not a boxer, but you get the idea. This was going well for a while. Until the day some jackalope was making a right on red at a stop light and I rolled into the intersection just after he had looked right for the last time. He crushed my front fork, but thankfully I was okay for the most part except for some leg road rash. A little bruised, but otherwise okay. But my FORK!!! My beautiful blue rigid fork was crushed. An ambulance was called and I remember being so mortified because the EMTs had to cut open my sweat pant leg to see the injury. Of all the days to skip shaving my legs. Figures. They assured me they’d seen everything, but that didn’t alleviate the shame. Oh the shame. The police took me home that day and I remember seeing the look on my Mom’s face when she opened the door. Trust me, no Mom should ever have to experience that no matter how many times the cops told her that I was fine but my bike was a little banged up and on the back of the cop car.
The driver offered to pay for my bike damage, so I went back to the store to get a replacement fork for it. Sadly, the aftermarket forks they were selling didn’t match my bike’s color. So I was forced to get a complementing color of shiny chrome silver because it was the only one that looked semi decent and I wanted my bike back as soon as possible.
Once I got it back, I was back in business doing my 3x daily laps to the beach again. This particular path was very busy one weekend crowded with other cyclists, roller bladers and runners too. That day I was riding to the beach once again and about 5 boys were riding abreast on the path leaving no room for others coming the other way. Well, I wasn’t having any of that. This was my path, and surely one of them would move out of my way if they saw me barreling straight toward them with no intention of stopping. Surely one of them would move to offer some room, right? Nope. Either they didn’t see me because they were a bunch of blind bats or they assumed that one of the others in their crew would move over instead. Let’s just say this was a game of chicken that I lost. Badly. I rode straight into one of them and down we went. Somehow, my bottom tooth pierced through my bottom lip and I remember lots of blood. I also remember one of them asking me “are you okay” with me not responding because I was in some shock when I reached up and saw all the blood from my mouth. The impact did not make me want to talk very much and I thought to myself…there is much blood. This can't be good. And why are you asking me questions bike path hog, look at all the blood coming from ME! That is not the sign of a person who is “okay”. He was fine by the way with merely a scrape.
Once again, the EMT’s came out and I was taken home by the uniforms. Off to the hospital I went with my parents for a plastic surgeon to sew up the hole in my lip. I never got a scar so I have to assume he was pretty good at his job. Thanks Doc. I appreciate the excellent workmanship. Because, despite what the adage says, "Chicks DON'T dig scars." Unless they are on someone else.