My bicycle is an old- make that really old Schwinn that was a gift to me. It was a friend's son's bike when he was a young teen, gathering dust while hanging upside down in their garage since those days. Now, the son is a thirty-ish.
Of the previously available 21 gear settings, there are three usable now due to a locked up rear derailleur; 7th, 14th, and 21st. I opt for 7th most of the time.
The back wheel is bent in one spot, so once every revolution it rubs the brake, making a small squeak and slightly impeding forward progress, but I've grown used to that.
Today, a perfect Autumn Sunday morning, 9 October 2011, I hit the streets of San Francisco... then, sigh, woke up and bicycled Kansas City.
My hastily conceived, possibly over-ambitious plan would take me across the state line to the Westport district on the Missouri side; my precious Quik-Trip for hot chocolate coffee and people watching, then down to 39th through the residentials, and eventually back home.
To accomplish this, there's no getting around a huge hill ascent at the first leg of the odyssey, so, being gear challenged (and even older than my bike), with head hung in shame, I walk it up... no less than five miles--- pant! Ok, more like a half of one mile, my solace being that I get to coast back down this bastard hill at breakneck speed on my return while yelling yee-ha and catching bugs in my old smiling grill.
Once at the top, it's smooth riding with only smallish inclines and declines. 40th to Rainbow, south to 43rd, then east across the imaginary line into the state of Misery.. Missouri that is. It's a state rivalry thing.. ha. Actually, the Missouri side (as in above) is much preferrable to my mind.
While riding, I am able to forget- forget my age, my social status, my facebook page (facebook being the easiest to brain-dislodge), while watching forward to find the smoothest path through cracks and curbs, hitting the sweet spots.
I peddle hard and make some wind, then slow to near zero, looping circles and watching a squirrel or curious house cat watch me.
I revert to childhood, playing the leaf game, where I pick out a series of fallen leaves ahead of me and hit each one with the front wheel.
Ah, the leaves, twirling downward lazily, blowing gently to gather loosely together before being swirled up and re-arranged yet again. I lay the bike on the sidewalk, the kickstand no longer being attached, and fall to my elbows right there in the street to make a movie, imagining that I am the kid from 'American Beauty' that filmed "The most beautiful thing."
"Sometimes there is so much beauty in the world I feel like I.. can't take it..." (from the linked clip).
Then, off again-
.. the bar isn't open yet...
..so I do some (fairly innocent) photo-stalking, before making my way back to the yee-ha descent down to the humbalow..
..yes, the humble bunglaow.