The Bike

How I finally understood the joy of having your own wheels.

Photo by Alessandra Caretto on Unsplash

I am walking amongst the last car boot sale of the season.

It’s a bijou but bustling affair with mainly small household items that are being moved on before their current owners move out.

Larger items are displayed by way of a photograph and a phone number. I also spot a bike.

I ignore the bike — I owned a large tricycle until I was about 10, such were my balance-related challenges. A cyclist I am not.

I’m thrilled when I spot a stand dedicated solely to Lego. I buy the lot at a bargain price. It’s stashed in my wardrobe now, awaiting the arrival of Christmas.

I am pleased with the kids’ books that I find. The dishes and bowls and plates that I collect are both functional and nice to look at.

I see the bike again.

I am now laden down with cumbersome items and I regret not bringing my mobile to call J on so that I could ask him to come and collect me and my haul. He is two minutes away, getting the boys ready to get out on the water. I am momentarily irked that I am car-less here.

I swear that bike is looking at me.

I walk out of the car boot sale and towards the lagoon. It’s getting hot. My purchases weigh heavy at the end of my arms, pulling at my shoulders and strangling my fingertips.

I stop to relieve myself momentarily of my heavy load. I stand up straight and stretch and rub the small of my back. While I do so, a younger woman sails on by. On her bike.

Her bike has a basket.

Eventually, dripping with sweat but still happy with my finds, I approach J and whisper to him about the gifts I have found for the boys. There is no need to advise him of the crockery — it loudly announces itself.

“Also,” I say, almost as an afterthought, “there was this bike”.

J jumps up and runs to the car boot sale quicker than you can say ‘pedal pushers’. In 15 minutes he is back. With the bike.

“Your bike,” he says.

“My bike? I don’t bike!”

“Nobody ‘bikes’. They cycle.”

“I don’t do that either.”

But then I get on my bike. My Dutch bike, no less, with strange long, curved handlebars, a lack of gears and lack of…

“IT HAS NO BRAKES”

“PEDAL BACKWARDS.”

I pedal backwards and I am smiling.

I love the weight of it, the whir of it, the feel-in-my-hair-and-the-look-of-the-world-as-it glides-by of it.

“I’m going to get a basket.” I assert.

J gets me one for my birthday. It has polka dots.

I love that basket.

I love my bike.

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