No Bike Tonight

I have been curled around the woodstove for the last few days as my family and I recover from a bout of gastric volcanus. It was the baby and I who suffered the longest, our intestines gurgling and sighing enough to continue avoiding food.

The thought of a scrumptious dinner out on the town, without the children, sounded like a great idea. But when the babysitter asked me if I was going to ride my bike in “that,” I was a bit confused. I guess the part about riding our bikes downtown in the freezing cold had not been communicated to me.

I love riding my bike at night—especially around downtown. I love creeping myself out at Helen’s Bridge, imagining her ghost almost grabbing me before I go flying down the mountain beyond her wraithly reach. I keep my lights off on this mountain. If there’s a car coming, I really don’t want to be seen—especially after a summer night when the screams of a fighting couple could be heard through opened windows and angry, screeching tires in the curves. I was afraid of being a scapegoat and lied down in the ditch until they’d passed.

I love riding to the top of the parking decks, watching the Pisgah Range at dusk as if traced by a welder’s torch. It’s prohibited though. Riding bikes in the parking decks, that is. And at the Civic Center deck the security guard gets real bent out of shape. He demanded that we walk our bikes down, but then couldn’t catch us, no matter how hard I laughed, as his pickup truck squealed down after us.

I love being able to park at the front door. But I hate clicking around a bar in my cleats, which are downright hazardly on a wet floor. I am not above carrying an extra pair of cute shoes. I guess I’m a geek for wearing them in the first place, but I don’t think I’m coordinated enough for flat pedals when jumping curbs and taking shortcuts through fields and hills. As a kid I stuck to the streets, rather than people’s backyards, which were usually armed by a lock, a dog, or an angry guy.

I love that my house is at the bottom of the hill, so that I can sail right into my front yard, riding the bike on one pedal, hopping off at the last minute to skid across the bricks on my walkway.

I love that I don’t get sleepy on the ride home, and instead like to stop at the top of the last climb to hang out in the dark field counting stars. It’s especially fun to visit my friend Dan whose house is at the top, but wedged into the corner of the mountain overlooking the city. I ride down the steps through a carefully manicured rhododendron tunnel and onto his porch, lined with bonsai, welded art, and orchids. He always has a beer for me.

However, on this night, I did not ride my bike. And when we left the brewery with a belly full of my first meal in four days, I was happy that I did not ride my bike. I pulled down my wool hat, snuggled into my thick scarf and braced against the wind as we ran to the car. I waved pleasantly to the parking deck security guard and slipped into a heated car, already dreaming before my head ever hit the pillow.

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