Tales of a (sort of) Biker

20 Oct

Biking may be one of the best things ever in a small town, like New Paltz for instance. You can obviously get somewhere faster than walking, and with the stupid amounts of traffic there are in this town, you can probably get most places faster than a car would as well. I however, have a few grievances:

1). Who decided to put campus on top of a giant fricken’ hill?! I mean, I know we live at the bottom of a mountain range and it can only be expected that there are a few hills in town, but literally from almost any point (unless you’re one of the lucky souls who gets to live a block from the college), you’re basically scaling Everest to get to campus. This is bad enough when you’re walking, but when I’m trying to haul my ass up to class on a bike at 10 AM after only being awake for fifteen minutes, it’s damn near impossible. Not only is my body simply not spry enough to expend such energy after fighting with my snooze button for an hour, but if it’s warmer than 65 degrees? Forget it! Now on top of panting as you walk into your class, you’re panting AND covered in massive amounts of sweat! It’s just a big cruel joke that the designers of this university decided to play on decades of students to come.

2). Once you’ve managed to reach the top of the hill, quads burning, heart pounding, there are a two options you have. One, you can go around the back way behind the library and face your probable demise by cars backing out of or pulling into parking places, going the wrong way down one-way lanes, or by the driver simply being too preoccupied with finding a song on his/her iPod to notice you appropriately signaling your directional, only to honk and scream at you for getting in their way. Or you can go down the main concourse by the Humanities building and run the risk of running over/into about two hundred pedestrians. Not to mention the entire campus has a staircase about every 100 feet. Dear SUNY New Paltz, INSTALL A BIKE LANE. Which brings me to my next point:

3.) I don’t have a car, so my only way to get to my two jobs, one of which is a mile away on a flat (thank god) flood plain outside of town, the other of which is three miles outside of town and all uphill one way, is to either bike, walk, or take a cab. The latter job is a safe enough ride, I can take the Rail Trail out and not have to worry about cars speeding by me at 55 mph (though now I’ve gotten too lazy so I just call a cab to bring me out there once a week). My job at the farm, however, is a different story. The farm is located en route to some of New Paltz’s most popular attractions: Mohonk Mountain House and Minnewaska State Park. This means that the one road that leads to these places is usually riddled with rude Escalade-driving assholes from the city doing 20 miles over the speed limit because they’re not used to the freedom of not having a traffic light every 250 feet. Throw in the distraction of being fascinated by how beautiful the changing leaves are and you have a potential disaster on your hands. The paved shoulder on this road is about one foot wide, though there are a pleasant extra two feet of unpaved shoulder which are riddled with potholes, large chunks of broken asphalt, road kill, and whatever else you may happen to stumble. Not to mention it’s a 2 inch drop from the paved to the unpaved part of the shoulder. Do I need to explain the potential dangers here? And people bike on this road every day, usually they’re a bit more fit and their gear is a bit fancier than my stylin’ purple Huffy Road Master that I inherited from my mother, but the necessity for a safe bike lane is still applicable.

4). This is more of a personal bike thing, but I don’t understand how people can ride road bikes. You know, the ones with the nice lean frames and the fancy curved handle bars. I have a hard enough time getting on and off my mountain bike crossover, I’ve easily bit it at least three times while trying to dismount in public since August, sober might I add (Now would be a good time to mention the not-so-sober times I’ve ridden my bike. Riding isn’t the problem, getting off is, and on more than one occasion it has landed me on top of an overturned stack of bikes and a pedal-shaped bruise on my ass). Yesterday I tried to get on my friend Andrew’s bike and the bar alone was higher than my waist!  After failing to throw my leg over the frame, he made it look easy by pulling some ballet-esque sort of maneuver by standing on the pedal and swinging his other leg over while the bike was already moving. He asked if I wanted to try it and all I could foresee was a miserable failure: a huge wipeout and the inevitable bruises and scrapes that I would have to explain to people the next day. The evidence of me walking into parking meters on the way home or spraining my ankle(s) regularly (earning me the nickname Sparena) after a night at the bar are enough; I try my best to not get injured when I’m sober.

5). Channel Seinfeld for a moment: What’s the deal with bike seats?! The first bike I had at college had an amazing wide-load (lord knows I need it) seat with gel cushioning that my father gave to me. It was like riding on a cloud! Then, that bike died a miserable death. When all was said and done the gears wouldn’t shift, then handlebars had completely fallen off, the rear brakes were permanently engaged, the front tire rim was bent, and the last time I saw it, it was still locked up to a light post outside of Deyo hall under three feet of snow in March. I only went to salvage the bike lock that was on it; in hindsight I should have stripped that dream of a seat as well before I left the poor bike for dead. This past summer when my mother gave me hers, I sat on it for the first time in nothing but a cotton dress. I immediately noticed that it felt like putting all of my body weight onto my vagina, which was resting on a 2 inch wide metal pole.  Go over a bump on the Rail Trail? Lord help us. They don’t even TRY to make these seats out of comfortable material. What gives?! Would it be so hard to pick a substance that doesn’t feel like granite being shoved up between your legs? I appreciate what I have down there far too much to abuse it like that. Luckily, gel seat covers aren’t that expensive. I can’t imagine how men handle this, at least my organs are internal.

So what then, you may ask, could I possibly like about biking? The answer is simple, the ride home of course! Yes, it’s a strain to motivate myself to ride up to campus every morning, but the reward far outweighs the punishment. After being on my feet for roughly ten hours all day in the studio, the least appealing thing in the world to me is the 15 minute walk home in my shoes that are generally unsupportive. Instead, I hop on my bike and since the entire ride is downhill, I can make it home in about three minutes. Talk about convenient. I wish I could have a bike at the top of every hill I have to walk down in this stupid town.

We’re also well into October at this point, my favorite time of year, and there’s something to be said about a night-time bike ride in the fall, so get on your bikes and go see what I’m talkin’ about before it gets too cold! Just stay off the damn hills if you know what’s good for you.


3 Responses to “Tales of a (sort of) Biker”

  1. bobdoesthings October 22, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    Just walk to school.. but instead… tie a very long wire to your bike.. installing a system of strategically placed pulleys which you could pull your bike up the hill when you want to leave.. Problem solved. I’m a genius.

    • marenamitchell October 23, 2011 at 4:17 am #

      That would solve every problem I have with biking. Yes, you are a genius.

  2. katy perry October 24, 2011 at 11:49 pm #

    As an avid biker in Seattle (which is FULL OF HUGE HILLS, I didn’t know this before moving here) There’s a couple things:

    1) biking on dangerous roads, I encourage lights, always a helmet, and stand (or bike) your ground. Make the cars go around you, not by riding in the danger zone but by driving on the road with enough room for you feel safe from the deadly shoulder. And own it, don’t sway out of the way and yes people will probably beep but I say folks should get use to seeing bikers riding bikes to get places, hello peak oil anyone?

    2) be real careful biking drunk. I did some good damage by black out drunk biking. No man is worth it…

    3) biking up hills will never be my favorite thing, but it does get easier, stick with it!

    4) I pretty much always bike in a skirt/dress and don’t wear underwear most of the time = practice getting off the bike discretely but don’t let it stop you from wearing beautifulness. Sometimes it helps to hop off the bike a block before your destination to put yourself together before arriving.

    5) rock it sister

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