Monthly Archives: May 2012

Can’t Be Trusted

I’ve long said I don’t ride bicycles because I don’t trust things with only two wheels. They seem so inherently unstable to me. Almost illogically so. With that said, I haven’t ridden a bike in something like 18-20 years. I liked it fine when I was a kid, but not beyond just riding in circles on the jogging track behind our house. I was never the kind to just ride around the neighborhood or anything. Even that would have been limited as we were surrounded by some pretty busy LA streets that my mom probably would have never let me venture onto. There’s still no bike lanes in that area I think.

There was a brief period when I would enjoy a motorized scooter my dad had. That was fun. Mainly because it was the only remotely entertaining thing to do during the long, endless days we had to spend at the race track in Palmdale or wherever. And that was fun and all until, facing a standoff with a semi, I crashed into a bunch of gravel and took a really nasty spill.  Considering how hard I vividly remember hitting my head on the asphalt, while not wearing a helmet, I’m still surprised I didn’t pass out or anything. But that spoiled the whole concept for me. That coupled with the one time I tried to ride a moped and fell over immediately.

But it’s not just fear or mistrust. There was also the weight thing. Fat people look ridiculous doing most every physical activity, but especially on a bike. That’s the big reason that, even though I’ve had no interest anyway, I wouldn’t consider even trying it again.

So now that I’ve lost 135 pounds or so, riding a bike seems like a good exercise alternative. Of course, here in Göttingen, we have no bike to ride. Go figure. Göttingen actually has more bikes than any other city in Germany, or so I’ve been told. The area outside the train station is a veritable sea of parked bikes in every direction. There’s even a bike parking garage. So there’s no shortage of bikes, or bike stores, or bike lanes, or places to ride.

I briefly considered buying a cheap bike around September or so, but I decided against it thinking that once the snow came that I wouldn’t be able to ride for a few months. And this was when we were still thinking we would be leaving here by July or so at the latest (how frustratingly naive of us). Naturally there was no long-term snow this year. Unlike last year where it was around for three or four months, this year it lasted just a few days tops. Disappointing in that some snow is nice sometimes, and frustrating in that I could have been riding a bike the entire time.

Yesterday I walked to Real, which is the German equivalent of Wal-Mart or Target, and they had plenty of bikes for under 200 Euro. But I’m still resistant to it as, the current thinking dictates, we’ll supposedly be out of here by November or so. Give or take. Hopefully take. So that’s not a long time to ride a bike, spending money I don’t necessarily have and would rather spend elsewhere (*cough* Paris *cough*). But with my gym membership almost done I feel I should do something physically stimulating that isn’t just long walks. I don’t have any friends with bikes I can borrow, and I haven’t the faintest idea of where to buy a used one (the concept of Craigslist-like services seems foreign here). Considering how many of the parked bikes at the train station must surely be abandoned, I’ve even thought of just swiping one. There’s a roped off area there now that will be cleared for construction on Tuesday, and any remaining bikes will be…disposed of somehow.

There are bike rental places, which I may try. Deutsche Bahn, the train company, even has text-a-bike, a service found in many major cities worldwide now, but navigating that system in German seems difficult.

Then there’s testing the old saying of “it’s just like riding a bike!” Is riding a bike just like riding a bike? Will it take me just moments for it all to come back to me? Or will I be a wobbly, freaked out hazard for a while before I get the hang of things. I’ve also never ridden a bike with gears. I haven’t the faintest idea how that whole process works. You shift? When? How? Someone tell me!

Chris has two bikes at home, and we may be moving somewhere bike friendly. So it’ll definitely be something I try once we’re back. But I can’t stop thinking about doing it while we’re here. But, knowing me, I probably just won’t get around to it.