ZEN & THE STATE OF BIKES IN THE 21ST CENTURY…

A really sweet pal of mine gave me his bike about a year ago. I think I’ve ridden it once. Yes, I’m sure of it. I was in cut-offs, I was barefoot, it was about 1am on a Saturday morning and B and I jumped on our bikes and rode for all of about 10 minutes up and down Castro Street. I had not been on a bike since I was in 7th grade and things had changed.

This was not a 10 speed or a motorcross bike. It looked like a cool 10 speed to me but it wasn’t. But the most startling thing for me was the fact that the pedals were like little knife blades and they hurt my barefeet! And, there was no bell bottom guard across the chain in the even that I was wearing my way cool Diesel jeans?!!? AND, there is no mud guard over the back tire! …This was most worrying. What if it rains and I’m wearing my neat-o-vintage jacket found at that little thrift shop in the Inner-Sunset?!?!

However, I remember one odd thing that came up that night as I seemed to terrify my lover — I like to go fast and just soar down from the top of our steep streets. And, man, you can go fast! Anyway, I remember jumping off the bike after only about 10 minutes because the pedals were really hurting my feet — I jumped off I pushed the bike stand down. I stood the bike and sat on the pavement waiting for B to catch up. When he did he lectured me (in a sweet way about riding too fast and with no helmet)

…Helmet? Just for a bike? But, then he teased me and my way cool new free bike because — it has a kick stand. Huh? What is so funny about that? A kick stand?!?!

At the time, I remember attempting to tease him back about his incredibly tall and big bike which has no kick stand but has all these odd things for attaching camping stuff (or gear as I now know one calls it) — Anyway —

…Spring has sprung in our beautiful gay town! So, yesterday, I had wanted us to drive up to Santa Cruz, explore that city (Ing has told me so many cool things about it! — plus it could be fun to watch the hippies stumble about) — and I wanted to bring our bikes and ride all around the hippies and the beach!

It might be spring but it is still kind of cold. Well, actually, for me it is freezing. Ok. Ok. I know that for many of you who are in the Northeast or the UK 66 degrees is nothing. And, I lived in Boston for well over a decade. I do know from cold — and, it doesn’t really get cold here. But, I am thinner and I’ve fully acclumated to San Francisco. Or, not. No matter — I’m usually a bit cold. I like it. But, not for a bike ride on the beach. And, B was most worried that I would have an accident without a helmet or insurance. So, the planned bike ride and Santa Cruz beach trip was scrap’d.

Instead we ended up seeing INTO THE GREAT SILENCE at The Lumiere. Just under 3 hours, the film is about the daily lives of Carthusian Monks who live in near total silence in the French Alps in the Grande Chartreuse Monk Place. I’ve always heard of this place and it’s rumored to be untouched 17th Century beauty that only monks ever get to see. Anyway, B liked this very quiet movie, but I didn’t care for it.

I wanted to understand more about the monks and why when they finally get to speak to each other they talk about whether or not they really need to wash their hands so much. Nothing very deep. It was all so mundane. And, I think the director and the monks see this as the pathway to The Divine.

So, I think the movie was trying to be meditative. I was just more or less bored. I found it wanting for some Enya or Enigma so that I might fall into slumber with my popcorn instead of my mind wondering back to the issues of my bike. And, trust me — I never think of Enya or Enigma. …or, monks for that matter. Somewhere in the first 120 minutes I found myself imagining how funny it would be if there were suddenly to be some Satanic homo-orgy — or, even more fun, if Julie Andrews were to run on to the screen and the monks were to break out into a rousing rendition of “Maria” — in French! That would have jazz’d things up a bit.

You see, the kick stand teasing started up again. And, I refused to accept that the concept of the kick stand was gone. However, we live in a city filled with bikes. And, I looked around and guess what! …there are no kick stands! I’m sorry, but what the fuck is that all about? Are we to just let our bikes fall to the pavement willy-nilly!!?? And, what if the same concept is applied to motorcycles!?!? People!!! I’m warning each of you — it will be total anarchy! Tho, maybe that would be a cool thing. I don’t know. But, whatever happened to good ol’ normal bikes!?!?! It’s sad. …what bikes have become! And, if I sound like a bitter old man — maybe I am! D’oh!

And, then, after B began to describe his fears and concerns for my safety if I rode without a helmet it made me realize that I might need one. True, I require for both he and Ing to wear protective insect-like ugly protective helmets. This is because I love them and do not want them to be hurt or brain damaged. Also, it is kind of cute to see them in those silly little caps. But, I digress.

Anyway, the thing is — those I love should do as I say not as I do. But, B convinced me. So, we went to this scary basement-o-sport-product place in the SOMA area. It was this ugly place filled with healthy looking people in rapture over ugly Northern Face junk and uncomfortable looking yoga mats. What is up with that?!?! And, they were playing techno music best left behind at a Rave in 1990. I worry for folks sometimes. Seriously.

And, there was an entire wall of really ugly helmets from which I was required to select one. …For me. …For myself. Yes. A helmet that was destined to ruin my hair did and make me look incredibly uncool as I am already with kick stand and I’m sorry but I can’t adapt to the current state of athletic footwear. I much prefer my Ben Sherman or Diesel sneakers. However, this is not how my fellow bikers journey. Ugh! I mean, the last thing I need is one of those fugly helmets while I’m already working at a biker fashion deficit.

So, at first I resisted and convinced B that the skater helmets would work just as well and looked way-cooler!

I was wrong.

I put one on and I looked “special” …and I do not mean that in a cool and sweet kind of way. No. I looked retarded. Like I was about to be air-lifted to the Special Olympics Relay Team or something. However, my modeling did give B and a couple of far-too-healthy-looking people a laugh. Apparently, only kids can get away with the skater helmet.

Anyway, I found a helmet. It is the standard alien-like thing that sort of rests a-top the cranium like a bug about to suck out your brain matter. Anyway, it is white and B has promised to draw on some of my fave logo design stuff like the Peace Symbol, Hello Kitty, logos of The Who, Goldfrapp, Blondie and KISS!
…However, it has struck me that this might make me look a bit “special” too. But, I don’t care. I have to infuse a bit of me into that ugly thing.

In the end I dream of a flower decorated banana seat bike made by Schwinn circa 1974 just like the one my parents and Grandmother refused me!
And, I want a basket! Yes, a basket so I don’t have to invest in one of those ugly backpacks that everyone seems to like. And, dammit! I want a fucking kick stand!!!

But, until that dream becomes a reality in some alternate universe I shall have to make do. April 1st I shall have insurance coverage and will start riding my bike to work! …most likely my attempts at wheelies and racing the #22 bus will result in smudging my newly decorated helmet, but so it goes.

(sigh) Heavy is the crown I wear. It is not easy being me, kids. …I haven’t felt this angst since my then best friend convinced me to let go of my Jordache jeans for Levis 501’s. …which never fit my ass right anyway. God bless GAP and DIESEL… And, The Cocteau Twins!

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March 18, 2007. Uncategorized.

18 Comments

  1. Tim replied:

    I can’t wear 501s either. I was gutted when I tried them on and they made me look ass-less. I thought they were supposed to make you look good?! But then I discovered H&M, and found that I could buy 3 pairs of cool jeans for the same price.

    I’m with you on the kick-stand thing, it seems eminently practical. If I was to buy a bike and it DIDN’T have a kick stand, I would ask why the hell not! Don’t worry though, you’re a trend-setter Matty, everyone in SF will have one by the end of the wear!!

  2. ginab replied:

    You are cool Matty because my bijs has a kick stand. It’s what I call my Dutch bike. Blue and mas normales (that’s spanish, but still). Mine rests with a flat tire in my living room. I am waiting for the temps to warm up to ride it to dry my hair! I love that feeling: rolling along, pretending I have no brakes, wet hair drying in the breeze, passing a transistor radio…screech! Talk about circa 1970-something! I miss transistor radios!

    -ginab

  3. ginab replied:

    Erm, my BIKE has a kick stand.

  4. Meredith replied:

    Wait, what do you mean kick stands aren’t cool? Did I miss a memo? Oh, right, I’ve missed a few of them so what do I know?
    I miss my old bike. A lovely conglomeration of bits and pieces that my dad rigged for me and painted and polished and added a sparkley silver banana seat. It rocked! It had those handle bars, like on low rider motorcycles, and a back rest. That was when bikes were made for riding to and from school, round and round the block, to the corner store. Now they’re all made with fancy suspension systems and require engineer degrees to maintain. Like we’re all trail riding in the fucking mountains!
    I want one with fat tires and brakes that you pedal backwards to employ and a big wicker basket that I can put Dorothy’s dog in.
    But I’ll admit that I was feeling slightly sick thinking about you whizzing down those hills without a helmet. The mom in me.

  5. matty03 replied:

    Tim! 501’s do the exact same thing for me! I can wear H&M but I swear their stuff just falls apart on me after 2 to 3 washings. GAP and DIESEL seem to fit me best. Mauvais fit will too. Not sure if I spelled that correctly. I only get the Diesel second hand (thrift shops) because they are a bit out of my budget! LOL! Oh, I don’t know about trend setting but I can tell you — that I’ve been watching bikers and I don’t see many kick stands. So odd and silly to me! LOL!

    Gina – Oh, that sounds so awesome! I used to do that when I was a kid! Now, I’ve not enough hair for it to matter! LOL! Transistor radios were cool! I also had one of those funky portable 8-Track tape players! cool! And, I’m glad your bike has a kick stand! We need to reverse this trend!

    Lovely Meredith, Yes, apparently, they are no longer cool and considered “obsolete” …I missed the memo, too. Most frustrating. Color me most jealous of your way cool childhood bike! I was given 3 bikes during my childhood — the first was a Schwin made to look like the one rode it Leave It To Beaver times. …which, in hindsight was way-cool — but, at the time, I thought it so uncool. My father picked it out. My mother managed to rid me of it and she and my Grandmother got me a bike which had been made to look like a motorcycle. This was in lieu of the one the would have been sort of similar to your with a banana seat! …then, in 6th grade, my father won a 10 speed bike which he gave to me. I rode that for about three years — then I decided bikes were just not cool and it was cars all the way for me. oy! What was I thinking!?!?!? LOL! Worry not, the bike is waiting in the hall for april 1st when insurance starts and i shall be wearing my fugly helmet.

  6. hot lunch replied:

    “It was kinda like a kickstand!” – Margaret Cho

    I think you also need a nice bell you can ding ding all the way down the street. OH, and also a pair of spandex shorts. Preferably in nice shiny blue. Pictures of you modeling this are expected, obviously.

    I don’t know how to ride a bike. 😦

  7. Kevin replied:

    My nickname in college was KICK STAND.

    (It so wasn’t but a man can dream, can’t he?)

  8. Old Cheeser replied:

    Bikes are cool. I had a very nice one which I bought off my ex but it was stolen from outside my local gym!! Pah!! And this is meant to be a nice area! Ah well.

    I think you are wise investing in a helmet, even if your coolness quota might drop a little in the process. If it’s a choice remaining cool and getting a cracked skull or being less cool and staying alive, which would you chose? I used to wear one which left funny ridges on my forehead after I took it off but it was still sensible…

    And I think you should buy a saddle like the one in the picture. Although it might affect your reputation somewhat.

  9. sasskitty replied:

    I remember loving my bike. I still have one, and the affianced has a KICK ASS one.

    However, we temporarily lost the key to the lock and the bikes are living in our old apartment building.

    I think you have inspired me that it is time to bring out the bikes!

    And, like you, my partner’s bike is SO MUCH COOLER than mine. And i always worry about my hair with a helmet on…

    there is nothing worse than bike hair…

  10. ing replied:

    That seat wouldn’t change your reputation in the least, if you ask me. . .

    I kind of like my helmet. It looks like a British motorcycle helmet — sort of scooter-mod.

    You want to go for a bike ride sometime in April? Golden Gate Park is just up the street, and the bike path leads to the beach. . .

    I have a kickstand, too, and I love it. But my old mountain bike didn’t. I think the lack of kickstand thing is for racers and mountain bike types. My new bike is a cross (part mountain bike, part road bike) — it’s meant for commuting, not racing/sporting.

    And since I’m not a jock, I vote that kickstands are cool. I can’t wait to see your helmet, and I’m going to take your picture!

  11. matty03 replied:

    Hot Lunch! Margaret Cho so totally rocks! Oh, I wanna bell! I never had one of those. I had a horn “a top” my faux motor cycle bike. I never used it. …the horn, I mean. Well, mister! It is high time you learned to ride a bike! Get that man of yours to buy you one and have fun this summer! Don’t forget your protective “gear”! …I’m not one for blue spandex shorts. I much prefer hot pink.

    Hey Kick Stand! How’s it hangin’? Uh, I mean — Hi Kevin! How are you doing? I thought you were called Campus Stud. ??? What gives?

    Old Cheeser! That is so wrong! To have your bike stolen while you’re working out! Well, that is the number one crime in San Francisco…. Stolen bikes. Seriously. The mayor is being pressured to form a special task force. But I have a lock, my bike isn’t worth much (because it has a kick stand) and I can park in a secured garage at work (or on our roof) — Personally, I think a flower decorated banana seat would only enhance my rep! But, I could be wrong.

    SassKitty — I know it is wrong, but I had to laugh when I read you both lost your keys and your bikes are sitting unused. Of course, it is still pretty cold your way, right? But, yes! Time to hire a locksmith and free the bikes! Time to ride — And, I feel you should both teach Hot Lunch how to ride. I’ve been having nightmares about bike hair. Shudder to think. Luckily, I don’t have much hair – but I still have enough to worry a bit about.

    Ing!!! I agree! And, as a woman of Sparta — you could defend me if someone tried to beat me up over my way cool daisy banana seat with wicker basket to carry my messenger bag (which would only get dirty if I wore it while riding!) And, YES! We MUST ride to the Golden Gate Park and go to the beach! Yes! I haven’t done that since I visited Alan back in 1998!!! That would be A+ fun! I really like your bike. I hope you can get it out of that crawl space in which we stored it. Or, rather, in which you stored it as I shined a light for you! Jocks are silly. Kick stands rule!

    I had a friend who had a tall stick with a flag that was attached to the back of his seat. His mom thought it made him more visible. I felt sorry for that kid.

    Wait. Was that kid me?!?!?! Oh, wow! It was! I remember me and my pal, Pattie, cutting if off one hot afternoon. Mom never noticed.

  12. Matt replied:

    I used to have a mountain bike whose kick stand would scape my ankle so bad that I decided to rid of it. But then when I tried to sell it a couple years ago, the guy came and looked at the bike was not very pleased that it was kick-stand-less.

    Matty I would never ride a bike with my bare feet. Never. It always hurt!

  13. Pants replied:

    Satanic homo-orgy? You make me want to crawl in your head.

    A bike ride from Golden Gate Park to the beach sounds like so much fun! You could have drinks and snacks at the Park Challet!

  14. ing replied:

    As a Spartan woman, I suggest we forego the Chalet and go hunting with bow and arrow. I will weave a basket from wheaten reeds, and together, we shall ride.

    But first, you must wax yourself. And do not tell my husband that you are a boy-lover.

    Yay, I can’t wait for a bike ride! But I’m a little bit scared to ride on the same path as you. Will you stay on the path, Matty? Will you watch where you’re going?

    I better get to work! I have to eat and sleep tonight, because tomorrow’s a big day.

  15. matty03 replied:

    Matt – Hey, Stranger! Miss you! Well, he was a smart customer! One should always insist on a kick stand! Just ask Kevin! My feet are pretty tuff — grew up going barefoot all the time! …and, still like it that way! LOL!

    Pants – You’re more than welcome if you can figure how to get in there! I’d like to get out from time to time! LOL! That is a great idea! I had brunch there once! It was yummy and a view of the ocean!!! Wanna come with sometime?!?!

    Ing-O-Great-Woman-of-Sparta, Daughter of Letchomitus and Great God Daughter of Mighty Klub Foote KoKo! I don’t do that wax thing. But, I’ll wear a shirt as I would not want my scrawny arms to offend the Spartan Warriors should we encounter them on our journey. …The countdown is on — come April 1st I’m insured and ready to ride!!!! …So, as you know, I crave adventure. Darling, it is the Spartan way is it not? So, no! I stray from the normal path! I like to look at things as I pass them. …but, I do walk the bike up hills. However, I do not believe in the use of brakes when flying down hill! And, I love to sit and chat with the sound of the ocean in the background. …and, I think it always a bit fun to cause a bit of a scene. Also, we might be able to do that thing and make a bit of extra cash. You know what I mean!

  16. ing replied:

    I know what you mean.

    But a woman of Sparta does not do these things for cash. A woman of Sparta does these with a sort of pinched/bored look on her face, in order to spare Sparta from slavery.

    In other words, the flag B is expecting you to mount on your bicycle shall fly 4-eva. I, woman of Sparta, will back him on this. Sorry. It’s the principle of the thing.

  17. matty replied:

    Ing – No, not that plan! That is only if we ever become totally desperate! I was referring to our musical group with can for coins! O-Great-Woman-Of-Sparta, hear my words! LOL! …And, B only want for me to wear a helmet and have insurance. The flag was from the 70’s childhood and my unusual mother. LOL!

  18. Daniel replied:

    The single most important thing about a bicycle helmet is that it must be shaped like the head of a penis. This alone is enough to make me want to wear one all the time.

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