Quote: A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.
I have no idea who said that. All I know is, I have a bicycle that I haven’t ridden on for about three years.
I love my bicycle, and biking in general: Growing up, I often rode my bike around the streets of Manhattan, listening to my Walkman … with no pesky helmet to muss my hair or come into conflict with my headphones. My daughter is about the same: being half Dutch, she’s genetically predisposed to ride a bike well, and often. Also, she doesn’t really understand the concept of hills, but we’re working on that. Specifically, specifically, she doesn’t grasp why braking when going downhill is a good idea*.
Yet we’ve been grounded for three years. Maybe four. Hard to say – but I could probably come up with an exact date if I dug about in my drawer.
We stopped riding our bikes right at the time The Departed got his new car.
His old car was an icky, manual shift SUV with, in retrospect, one redeeming quality: The Departed had bought a universal bike rack that you could strap to the back of it. You could then drive over to nearby Marymoor Park and bliss out in bike trail heaven.
I liked the new car – an automatic shift BMW with a decent sound system** and heated seats – but it had one failing. The universal bike rack did not fit on the back of it, he said; it would not work on a sedan.
He priced out several options, which seemed to be inordinately expensive, and we ended up getting some sort of Thule system with one set of rails for one bike: his. We never got around to getting anything for my bike because, of course, there was no way I would ever be able to lift it onto the top of a car, assuming the car was even in the garage when I wanted to go for a ride.
Last year, I got a new car myself – a large SUV with many redeeming qualities including, I thought, the ability to load bikes onto the back the way we had in the past, using the universal bike rack we already owned. But when we brought the car home, The Departed inspected it and pronounced it impossible: there was a rear spoiler that would rip right off if you tried to hook the rack to it. All the other options were prohibitively expensive: the dealer wanted to charge me something like $1000 to install a hitch mounted rack. And the simple ones I seemed to see everywhere on the road? Well, I was told, you need someone who understands wrenches and drills because you have to undertake a complicated attaching-and-removing of said mount every time you want to ride your bike, because the car won’t fit into the garage with the rack on it and …
No, I don’t really know anything about mechanical things. I got tired just thinking about the complexities of the situation. Easier just to not ride my bike, I thought. Less fun, of course – but less hard, too.
And then he left, and about a week later, in November, I drove into my garage and there was the universal bike rack hanging on the wall. Taunting me. I looked at my bike, also hanging from the wall. I looked back at the bike rack. Universal, eh?
Now, anyone who knows me will tell you I am about the least handy person you will ever meet – sure, I can do things around the house, but only if you give me a book like Making Simple Repairs for Dummies, and it includes simple step-by-step instructions accompanied by pictures of each step.
This universal bike rack, as it happens, has a website URL printed right on the side of it.
I can do that.
The website contains instructions for safely attaching the universal rack to any car, like, for example, a BMW sedan with crappy music playing on a really good sound system. Also for an SUV. The instructions seem to have an awareness that you might not be able to attach the rack to the immediately obvious place because there might be something – a spoiler, say – in the way. They go on to suggest that the rack can be hooked to the roof rails. Helpful step-by-step photos for the mechanically stupid are included.
I can do that.
Not only that, it is incredibly easy. I mount the rack on my car. I put bikes on it. I remove the bikes and the rack, and repeat the procedure.
I call my daughter out of the house, and make her watch me do this whole thing again. She thinks I’m brilliant, and can we please go for a bike ride now?
No, I say: This is Seattle, child. It’s raining. But when the sun shines, we’re ready.
* the reason: Mommy won’t have a heart attack.
**even if he did insist on playing his crappy music on it. Klaatu, really?