27 October 2009

Honeymoon's Over: Cyclying

So I have heard that there is this point that you reach when living overseas where things that were cute, amusing, or charming for a finite period of time start to become a part of your day to day reality. I think you basically realize that these things are not performances that eventually fade into normalcy, but they are entrenched part of life in this new place and are going to be a part of everyday reality. Let's be realistic: riding your bicycle in the rain is fun for a few times because you are having charmingly new experiences, but this stops being fun or even amusing very quickly. (It's like snow. In Iowa, it has completely lost it's charm. Having temperatures cold enough to freeze the gas in your car will do that to you.) I have reached that point--the honeymoon is over.

Bicycling--I finally bought a helmet, and had to buy new lights because my front light broke and then some theif added insult to injury by stealing my back light. (Here, petty theft is outrageous, while violent crime is not the same kind of problem as in the states...I am not sure which system I prefer) I spent 65 bucks on all of this (USD) which was just obnoxious. Also, I am slowly but surely tearing the bottom of every pair of pants I own. I am already riding with toes and knees pointed out to keep my pant legs as far from the pedals as possible (and I am wearing a helmet and lights, so I am a sight to behold). The next step is buying straps that velcro my pants to my ankles. Or I could buy skinny jeans. Both are against everything I believe and would only require more money that I don't want to spend. I have a budget, and I didn't realize I needed to make special "bike allowances".

Also, now that my honeymoon phase is officially over, I feel fully justified in commenting on tourists/pedestrians. I think we need to have walking classes here. No, you shouldn't just step off the sidewalk because you would prefer to walk in the street. That is what we call a bike lane, and you didn't signal with your hand to let me know you were coming over. Furthermore, you don't know me, and you don't know how good of a cyclist I am. I'll fill you in--you are endangering both of our lives.

To pedestrians who see me coming: I do not appreciate your game of chicken. Either speed up to get out of the way, or slow down to get out of the way. Why would you speed up and then slow down so that the timing creates an impossible choice for me (either hit a car, hit a pedestrian or stop. I know you are thinking that stop is the best choice, but it really isn't. In addition to challenging my skill set, I think there is an unspoken code about not stopping.) It is a good thing that I do not have a bell, or else I would "ding" it at you. Instead, I have a rusty bike with squealy brakes. There are times when I do not like this, but there are other times when I am thankful that my bike groans in protest when people cause me to brake unneccessarily. It has actually become a point of strategy for me...I will slam on my brakes in advance to let pedestrians know that the train is coming through. Ah, bicycle road rage--something that makes me feel profoundly American.

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