Biking in Boston: A Short Lived Hobby, Part 2 (Hazards)

Apologies for the delay on this post. I’ve been slaving away school and busying myself with the redecorating of my new apartment. I will post pictures soon! Can’t wait to take credit for all the creativity my mom actually contributed to my new pad! (She did basically everything; I contributed by doing a really bad job painting a few square feet of the wall and handing my dad screws to install the TV wall mount.)

Back to my biking “career.” If you can really call it that. This post, I will be discussing the MANY hazards I encountered while doing what I thought would be a super pleasant activity. This is meant to serve as a warning to any girly-girl who thinks they want a bike as their primary mode of transportation.

First, the inaugural ride. Installed on the side of my back wheel were these things that looked like a very oversized piece of pizza, if pizza were made of cream vinyl. See below:

Image

These sort-of triangles were a main reason I loved the look of this bike. They made the bike look so vintage! SO something Audrey Hepburn would ride.

Yeah, not. Last time I watched “Roman Holiday” Audrey did not die in a bicycle accident.

These stupid triangles were the most poorly-manufactured, cheap excuses for a cute bike accessory I have ever seen in my life. They attached to the wheel, one on each side, with these little metal clasps. Let’s just say my bobby pins would do a better job holding a race car together than these clasps did holding the triangles onto my wheel.

The first pedal I took, I heard a weird noise. “Ttttttttt!” WTF? I looked around. There were no woodpeckers I could see. I kept riding.

“Tttt!!!!” Seriously? WTF? It took a few more blocks before I realized my fashion triangles were hanging off the wheel, holding on for dear life. I stopped. I reattached them. I kept pedaling.

“TTTTTtttttTTTT!!!” OMG. ???

I road around like this for a week, to a woodpecker-esque soundtrack, worried about a serious bike accident, before I removed those stupid triangles for good. My bike was way less cool, but at least I would avoid becoming paralyzed on my way to Red Mango. I threw the triangles in my coat closet, next to my Christmas ornaments, where they lived until I moved out 12 months later.

Next hazard I discovered only when I ventured onto my first busy street, Beacon: parked trucks.

Do you know how many trucks there are in this world? I felt like I had just put on a pair of glasses that transformed my world into a 3D movie. But this movie was a horror movie, and the name of the movie was “TRUCKS!!!!!!”

Trucks are EVERYWHERE!!! And guess what, they always park in the bike lane. So there I was, riding along in my designated lane, keeping up with the flow of traffic, wondering how many guys were checking me out on my cute bike, when BAM! A FedEx truck would show up, completely thwarting my plan of survival.

The below is a depiction of what I am talking about. Now imagine trying to veer into the motorist lane (yeah baby, I started talking like a biker to up my street cred) when all the cars are going 30+ mph.

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Since I felt like living, I ended up having to stop behind the truck, wait for a break in the traffic, and continue on my way. It was terrifying, since it took me several moments to restart my bike, and by that time, more cars were coming. So many people gave me the middle finger. And in case you’re wondering why it took me so long to start moving again, it’s because I had recently figured out that Republic Bikes are awesome-looking pieces of crap that weigh 900 million pounds and require a regiment of leg press exercises to operate. I honestly don’t think an out-of-shape person could get this bike moving without a push.

Somehow I managed to make it around the trucks alive. Sadly this was not the end of my struggle.

One-way streets. As a person driving a car, you just follow the signs and don’t worry about your life, because, well, you have the protection of your thousand-plus pound vehicle. As a pedestrian, one-way streets are irrelevant. As a biker, one-way streets are one-way tickets to hell.

Did you know it’s illegal to ride your bike the wrong way down a one-way street? Now, I know this sounds like a bad idea to begin with, but when you’re faced with either riding the wrong way or riding the RIGHT way up a 45-degree hill, you’ll choose the former EVERY TIME. And remember, I lived in Beacon HILL. I know the below pic doesn’t look like a steep incline, but it’s mother-#$%ing PAINFUL to ride uphill on a bike with no speeds!

Long story short, I rode the wrong way down Charles St. in Beacon Hill every day until the POLICE stopped me (yes, the police have nothing better to do than stop a girl on her Dutch bicycle) and said if I did it again I’d get a ticket. GREAT. Quickly my bike was becoming more of an annoyance than a convenience, as I ended up having to push my bike up a gigantic hill if I wanted to get home.

As if all this wasn’t enough, my outfits were becoming quite the nuisance. There is a reason people in movies wear awesome skirts and fashionable flats and people in real life wear gross jeans with rolled-up pants legs while riding bikes: movies are not real life. If you know me in person, you will understand why this concept is hard for me to understand.

Items I realized would not work on my bike:

  • Flip-flops (get caught on pedals)
  • Ballet flats (might fly off your foot unless secured with duct tape)
  • Heels (duh)
  • Skirts/dresses (unless you want to flash everyone)
  • Any hairdo that is not a ponytail (thanks wind!)
  • Any outfit that does not involve layers (you will alternate between sweating to death and freezing)
  • Pretty much anything except one of those spandex Lance Armstrong outfits

I hope you didn’t laugh when I mentioned the heels/skirts/dresses, because guess what, that’s a problem! More than once I wanted to ride my bike to a friend’s apartment before going out, but guess what? I didn’t want to wear a pair of spandex bike shorts and those weird biking cleats to the bar, so I ended up having to bring two pairs of shoes and a pair of shorts under my skirt! What is this, fifth grade in Catholic school??? Shorts under a skirt? WTF?

Speaking of riding your bike to a pregame, don’t do it. I realized that unless you plan on drunk-riding your bike home (and I definitely wasn’t going to risk that…I’m bad enough sober), you have no choice to to retrieve your bike in the morning. AH-NOY-ING!

Last, I have to return to the issue of the hill and the bike. Riding up that giant hill on Beacon St. (next to Boston Common) was not possible–every pedal felt like it might be my last, so I ended up pushing the bike. Riding down…well…I was looking forward to exerting zero physical effort (what else is new?). Little did I know that ride would almost be my last.

First few seconds, at the top of the hill, I was flying high!

“Woo, this is sooo relaxing! I love the wind in my face!!”

Next, I started to sense a problem.

“Um. Wait. This is kind of getting fast. I’m a little concerned.”

By the time I was approaching Beacon St., I was sure flames and/or sparks were coming off my bike, which at this point was probably reaching 400 mph. I pretty much failed physics, but common sense told me if I slammed on the breaks I would launch over the handlebars and be Boston roadkill. Below is how I felt on that hill.

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Amazingly, I was able to skid to a stop, screeching around the Starbucks on the corner of Beacon St.

The end of this story is that a few weeks into November, some hooligans stole my bike. I came out of my apartment one day to where I had it locked up and all that remained was my sad, cut bike chain. No one bothered to tell me that when you live in a city, you have to use a U-lock.

I put up signs and asked alllll over CraigsList, but secretly, I was relieved. My $75 dollar investment was now probably about to kill some thieves who thought riding my bike would be easy.

Karma’s a bitch.

xo

Molly

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