I’m told that once one learns to ride a bicycle, the innate sense of balance and knowhow to do so is easily reawakened after a long interval, the moment one gets back on the thing. Which, if it proves true, will be a boon to me after all of these years of not even owning such a contraption. Though that’s not entirely true; I merely own one that travels only in my interior world—an exercise bike.
This could be considered a concession to the oft-overheated world of Texas, where I find it hard to get motivated enough to stroll from the front door to the mailbox on a typical summer’s day let alone do something as strenuous as pedaling at speed on a bicycle. It could be considered a mere kindness to all who would rather not see me teetering on the brink of disaster no matter what my speed, let alone have to try to navigate safely around me. It could even be considered a cheapskate solution to the expense of bikes nowadays relative to what I remember paying for my first grownup sort of bike.
The latter, however, is quickly canceled out when you know how much indoor, stationary bikes for exercising personages really cost. They’re just as outrageous in price as any that can tootle down the roads. At least, this one was. But the big difference in price is in the personal health, safety, and well-being of this particular rider and all who are freed from the dangers of surviving my biking skills should I hit the actual pavement. I am not in danger of heat stroke on this baby, since it sits in the bedroom not far from the convenient ceiling fan, should I go so far as to break a sweat or simply fall into an unwelcome hot flash mid-ride. It stays upright, no matter whether I am properly centered on the seat or pedaling evenly enough or paying reasonable attention to the terrain, or not. In fact, I can lean back on its amply cushioned recumbent seat with my iPad or laptop propped on my midsection, reading articles and watching video and blithely ignoring anything to do with my steadily cycling feet without any fear of riding off a cliff or into a vortex-like pothole.
And nobody will ever have to see me in bicycle shorts. Period. You can thank me now.
Do I miss real bicycle riding? I can’t say that I do. When and if I live in a climate where I feel comfortable mounting up on one of the real-thing bikes again for a genuine outdoor ride, I will likely enjoy the change of scenery enough (barring any strenuous terrain, because I am a lazy cuss) to make it worth my while. Until then, I’m quite content to pedal furiously, or as leisurely and gently as I like, around the confines of a square meter or so of my own bedroom, ogling digital scenery or perhaps, if the bird feeder is freshly filled, a few wrens, cardinals, and chickadees whose chatter is probably about the crazy bicycling lady on the other side of the window who is obviously so feeble that she’ll never catch up with them.