Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Schleppin' Ain't Easy

My long Easter weekend began by waking up at four a.m., possibly still drunk, to pack for Jersey. It is of little concern that I don't believe Christ to be the cat who came back the very next day (or, two days later, as I have been since informed). Nor is the record of me saying "you can't drag my stinking corpse to NJ" of any consequence. At the blurry hour of 0400, what matters is the thought process that helps select transportation. Driving less than a mile to Union Station to then park my car in an expensive lot was out of the question. Calling a cab meant paying stupid money for a trip I could make easily on my own. Walking at that hour seemed like a great idea earlier in the week, before I realized that the sun does not come up until a bit later. This forced me to weigh my options: Starry Starry Bike, The Jenny, or The Pretty Red Bike AKA Brakeless Wonder. Given that the bike would be locked outside for a few days, the possibility of theft was considered. The Jenny would under no circumstances find herself stranded outside of the train station. In addition to theft, I had to consider which bike I would mind least if it was peed on. That's like asking which of my children I would prefer run away to join the circus. Of the two remaining bikes, one has a rack and panniers; the other does not. The choice came down to which I am least sentimental about in case of theft or urine, rather than all-around practicality.

Schlepping three bags of random fancy clothes, shoes, and gifts, before sunrise, is not the best idea I have had. Doing so on a bike with no recognizable brake system is among the worst. Between one nonchalant handbrake and a decorative coaster brake, I barreled down the street in a somewhat sideways, rather than straightforward, position. This somewhat compensated for the vodka-inspired angle my head was stuck in. It seemed brilliant to cut through the grassy knoll on the corner of Broad and Farmington/Asylum, which is how I discovered this was more mud than anything, and sunk. In heels. Before the sun was even thinking about rising.

The train was awesome, even if everyone else hates it. I've been told that getting a ticket as inexpensively as I managed to was a miracle rivaling the Second Coming. Until the gum-snapping teenager boarded in Upstate New York, I was able to enjoy the view of graffiti and junkyards in silence. I would have hated her more, but saw she was reading Pride and Prejudice. A wave of unprecedented sympathy washed over me and I gave her an extra half inch of leg room.

To rectify the weekend of Jesus in the Jersey ahead, I scheduled some me-time in New York City. Aiming for Tiffany's, I landed somehow in the Strawberry Fields section of Central Park instead. It was here where I felt seething jealousy over those who had more between their legs than I. If I were not such a cheapskate, maybe I would have coughed up the money to rent a bike, but then, where would I leave my baggage? I could have hired one of the many rickshaws. The what-to-do-with-my-bags problem would have been solved, as would be my feet-already-hurt-and-I've-been-here-twenty-minutes problem. But these bikes were for tours of Central Park. I really just wanted to hire someone to haul my lazy self up and down Fifth Avenue, waiting outside patiently as I browsed merchandise that would, if purchased, lead me straight to defaulting on my mortgage.

Instead of renting a bike, I bought biking clothes. Having ridden my bike pretty much year-round, I needed something to mark my rite of passage into spring. What better than a shirtwaist dress? It's short enough to avoid spokes, but long enough to avoid unfortunate bike seat calamities.

When I landed in Jersey, I again had bicycle envy. Riding the mile from train station to house would have been so much quicker than walking. The trip was mostly flat and there were lots of little kids riding bikes out on the street. In a lot of ways, this was the perfect bicycle town. There was not enough traffic to warrant designated bike lanes and people seemed alert. Alas, it would take me a few more days and a motorcycle ride to feel somewhat satisfied. We landed in a New York village that offered both decent vegetarian meals and an open, well-lit, unpretentious bike shop. Here is where I found the next project for completing Starry Starry Bike:

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