Monday, April 02, 2007

My 16th birthday vehicle present.

"Close your eyes, Kaitlyn." *please be a car, please be a car, please be a car*

"Ta da!"

A bike, a blue girl's bike that is fucking awesome.

Okay, it didn't really go that way. I spent most of the spring and summer of 2004 (after my skin infection healed) riding my bike. Actually, it was mom's old pink bike and I loved it, but it was at least as old as I am - a garage sale find.

So a few weeks before my birthday, my dad takes me to Wal-Mart to get a bike. I fell in love with it. We also got a basket, an odometer (600+ miles so far), and one of those U-shaped locks that can be picked with a pen. Whoops.

(My sister is a much better photographer, but she is asleep. Something about how it's 11 pm and she has school tomorrow and blah blah blah.)

I love my bike.

I was inspired to write this after reading about a year old horror at Pandagon. Someone stole Amanda's bike! Not as awesome as mine, her basket's in the back, a dog can't ride in the back basket, dur.

And it got me worried, so I just wrote a note to myself and mom (she is the one with the money) saying we need to visit BikesPlus before the summer starts, so I can feel confident while riding around my piddly town, and then riding around Memphis.

If I stay healthy - I woke up from a 45 minute nap today with a thousand knives in my abdomen - I'd love to work as a courier - anything on my bike.

It is such a thrill to ride it - don't get me wrong, I like walking, but biking's faster, and you can sit when you're tired. And you don't have to hold your bottle of water in your hands, and my favorite, worry about dog poop.

You see the white towel in the basket? It's for Wickett.

He loves to go on bike rides.

The boys have harnesses that are called "Yuppy Puppy". They are adorable, and they don't hurt them, despite what they'll tell you.

The best thing about them, though, is the easily adjustable part, which end with a metal ring to attach to a leash.

Or, when it comes to the bike, a shower hook. It works wonders. He only jumped once (he was going to beat up that Golden Retriever, yes he was) and he ended up hanging sideways off the front of the basket. He never did it again.

We went on a ride last Thursday, about 3 miles just circling the neighborhood, and he was the King of the neighborhood, no the world. He sat there with his ears wide open, checking everybody out, he was in charge.

When he's tired (I sit in the basket and make him pedal, of course), he shows me in two ways. One is when I stop, he turns and looks at me. The other is settling down, below the top of the basket. And yes, he is often compared to Toto.

He loves it when little kids try to pet him - they're shorter than him, therefor they are not a threat and can pet him. He actually loves them, his tail starts wagging, he wants out to lick this strange little boy. One time, a bunch of little kids came over, and he was all lovey-dovey and I gave them the OK. Then their parents came rushing over, and naturally, he started yelling, proving their point that he was dangerous.

No one taller can come near him, they will remove him from the basket. And that is bad.

However, there is this elderly woman that adores him. She's never pet him, he won't let her, but she loves to see him in his basket.

Mikey's ridden a couple times, and he just hunkers downand waits for it to be over, much like he does in the car. But he wants to go in both - he cries if Wickett goes. And Dixie? What a whiner when we left. "Where are they? Why can't I go? I can fit in a basket!"

Another thing about biking - I would love to live in a place where I can use it instead of a car. I know I have to get a driver's license (how else will people know I'm an organ donor?), but I can't right now. Too many of my medications - not just the pain pills and antihistamines - have drowsy warnings.

Last time I drove (13 or 14, everyone else was starting then, I should too), we ended up in a ditch. There were too many cars on the road and the brake and gas switched places.

I think I will have my sister teach me one upcoming summer when I am healthy, as I am 18, and can forego the permit mess. She got her permit in November and will get her license a couple days after school ends. Stay off the roads if you live in the Memphis area!

I don't want to drive.

I do not want to drive.

I know how, I know the basics, I could pass the test, I just do not want to.

I'd love to zip on the interstate at 70 miles an hour, or drive on a back, tree-lined road devoid of all humans but myself, but that's not what most driving is.

Most is stop-and-go, and that's maddening enough as a passenger!

I can't imagine how it feels as the driver.

One day, after leaving a doctor appointment right when rush hour began, my mom elected to use the stop-and-go roads rather than the interstate, as it was already backed up.

We were starving, so we pulled into McDonalds and got 2 large fries. I don't care how unhealthy they are, they are the best!

I realized that fast food like that, something simple to eat, something damn tasty, is a good preventive measure against road rage. You're happy, you've got tunes (or news or political blather), you can make it through the traffic.

I know I will have to learn how to drive above 5 miles an hour (my first successful outing, my sister and Melissa beat us home) and will need a car. I will get a VW. They're the best when it comes to gas, and I don't need a lot of space.

However, I want to put that off as long as possible.

I love the countryside, anywhere but Nebraska, really, but it's only accessible by car. That sucks.

I hope to live in cities until I mature - cities with public transportation when I feel bad, cities with good biking accomadations for when I do.

Right now, the bike is inside. Someone tried to break into our house about a year ago, and since then, my tires won't stay inflated. A free over-night stay at BikesPlus showed nothing wrong with the tires, so I should air it every week and keep it locked up, and the backyard or shed is a pain, but the study is not. It's possible that the assholes that stole my bike (and my cousin's) one day during the summer get their kicks by deflating them. Who knows?

The bikes were in someone else's yard, a family with a clean repuation, and I was so pissed I thought it was them, but then found out it was the neighborhood teenage trouble makers, who were mad at Mom for chewing them out over something, and retaliated by taking the bikes we'd left under the (still weeping) willow one night. That was summer '04, before I got the new bike.

I love riding my bike. I like to ride it to the library, because I have to ride along 2 5 lane roads, and it's such a rush to pass them as they wait for the light to change. Sometimes I ride on the sidewalk, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I face traffic, sometimes I don't. (If I have to wait 5 minutes to cross the highway, I'm riding against traffic, dammit!)

You get the same thrill while walking, but biking is faster and it involves wheels.

Look, here's my theory about road rage and why fast food places do so well - we are promised open roads along the ocean, no traffic, no troubles when we buy a car.

But it's not reality.

The car gives you independence, but it takes it away. You are at the whims of the traffic gods. And while stuck in traffic, you can't read or write, all you can do is call people and listen to the radio.

If you're stuck in traffic on a bus, you can read. You can zone out. You can sleep. You can do almost anything, because while you don't control where you're going, you're not the one driving, so you have no responsibility except not being an asshole. (And not eating most of the time, but I totally ate skittles while on the bus in Vancouver.)

As for biking, well, you can skirt around the traffic, go on your merry way, pass the drivers at the stop light. (That's fun while walking as well.)

It's cheaper, better for the environment, and a great exercise. And I'm glad all the libraries I've seen in Shelby County have bike racks.

So I will ride my bike around Memphis this fall and keep it locked up. I will use the MATA bus system. I will use the trolleys. And when I have to leave MATA's area or biking range, I will get rides from friends and my sister.

There's even a carpool on Saturdays for volunteer work - how cool is that?

I ride my bike to the nearest grocery store all the time (er, I used to). When an old man saw me throw my bags in the basket, he said, "That's the way to fight gas prices!"


linda ringwood said...

This is one of the most flamboyant bi-cycle I have seen..just loved ur ride...and a very happy birthday to u :)

Kaitlyn said...

Oh thanks Linda.

But your very belated - that was in August 2004!

Thanks anyways, and it is an awesome bike, the awesomest in the world, I'd guess. :)

And you forgot the cardinal question - how'd you find me? Bike lover? Dog lover? This was the first post on the main page - could have been at that hour, sleep is for the weakzzzzzzzz.