Once upon a time I had some extra money, so I bought a brand new bicycle. I had been wanting a new bike ever since I moved to this valley full of people of Dutch descent. I had watched them for years riding past on their bicycles, looking so upright and happy and comfortable pedalling around town. For years I had a mountain bike, which did not fit me properly, or vice versa, and I no longer could bear to ride it. The reach to the handlebars was too long and my back and neck ached after every ride. Besides, it was rusting out and the gears were grinding and the brakes hissing and squealing, and it was obviously time for a new one.
We went shopping to my husband's favourite bike store in the nearby city. The owner's assistant showed me several choices. Before long my choice was down to two: A Giant Sedona man's small frame in grey or a Giant Sedona woman's frame in white. A Sedona is meant as an inexpensive crossover between a mountain bike and a cruiser. It features a wide seat and a frame built for comfort, but twenty-four gears for resistance and hill climbing, and tough enough tires for riding on gravel and over railroad tracks. My poor family waited and waited while I took one, then the other bike out for test rides down the side street by the bike shop. Finally, I had made my choice. I would buy the women's bike with the smaller frame to accomodate my short torso and the adjustable seat to accommodate my long legs. I have never regretted my decision.
That was two years ago, and I still get many compliments on my bike. On our first ride together, my youngest daughter and I came up with a name. I had never named any of my other bikes, but since this new one was special, and my daughter insisted, I thought I might name her. Since my daughter's bike was named Stanley, I thought I could name mine Iris (from the film Stanley and Iris). My daughter approved and the name suits my bike's upright elegance very well. All she is missing is a basket, which will have to wait until the next time I have some extra money or a birthday. Recently, I was at the bike shop getting a free annual tune-up for Iris. As I stood in the shop waiting with my bike, a couple came in the door. The young assistant approached them and asked if he could help them. The gentleman said, "My wife here would like a new bike." "What sort would you like?" asked the assistant. The wife looked at Iris. "That sort."
Now that it is spring, I find myself hopping on my bike several times a day, to zip down to the produce store for groceries or to the pepper farm to buy a two pound bag of 'seconds' for $2.50, to the bank or the library. Bicycling is quicker than walking, and more energizing and fun than driving. It is the perfect balance between the two, and it means one less car on the road. I am happy to see so many others biking around town, old and young, families and solo riders, but of course, there is lots of room on the roads for more cyclists.
The perfect opportunity came up a few years ago to widen the road to accommodate a bike lane between our town and the nearby lakeside resort community some ten kilometers north. Despite appeals to the municipalities and 'letters to the editor' the bike lane was never built, and the repaved shoulder remained narrow. My husband rides the road regularly in summer, as did my son last year, to his job in the resort community, but they have to be extremely wary of vehicles speeding past. I can't help but think how wonderful it would be for people, especially families to ride the relatively easy distance of flat ground for a day at the beach. Fortunately, until the powers that be come to their senses we have plenty of farm roads to cycle in our district. I look forward to many smooth and pleasant rides with Iris this summer.
Perhaps you may see me one sunny afternoon pedalling along, the wind in my hair, smiling all the way.