“Just Like Riding a Bike” is Bullshit
Oh hubris, oh vanity, oh sweet fucking stupidity, whom among you do I blame for the idiocy that was me agreeing to do a bike brewery tour with my friends? All three, probably. Gather round, fair readers, and hear the tale of my terror-filled ride through the streets of Dallas. Learn from my foolish example, that you might not fall to the same folly yourself.
Okay, backstory: some of my friends found out there was a place in Deep Ellum that rented bikes by the day and thought it would be fun to bike around Dallas one Saturday hitting up all the local breweries. We’d burn the beer calories as we went, have no need for parking, and if we got too drunk we could call a big Uber to pick us and the bikes up. Seemed like a great plan, overall. There were really just two hitches:
1) By sheer chance, the day we picked was one of the coldest we’d had in weeks.
2) I, like a damned fool, actually believed that old line about it being “like riding a bike”.
One of these issues would ultimately turn out to be bigger than the other.
But, full of confidence and boredom, I agreed and met my friends at the bike shop, where I found what had to be, hands down, the douchiest-hipster bike I’d ever laid eyes on. The thing had leather wrapped handles, totally appropriate if I were in a turn-of-the-century play, yet just laying my hands on them to test the grip made me want to kick my own ass. It was the biggest bike they had though, and as I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion, I am not a small man. Even if I were lean and devoid of muscle, 6’4” is still a lot to fit on a bike frame. Which meant I was taking the douche-bike or skipping the event, so I handed over my credit card and hopped on to spend what I assumed would be ten seconds remembering how to ride.
To my credit, I didn’t immediately fall over and eat shit, because I threw a leg out and caught myself. My bike-balance, honed from years of biking across my small town before I had a car, was utterly absent. Still, I’d already paid, so this was fucking happening, thus I pushed forward to get a moving start, hopped on, and said a prayer to any god that would listen. Miraculously, I didn’t fall over! I did, however, realize that my tenuous balance meant I wasn’t going to be doing anything more complicated, such as, I don’t know, turning. So it was that I careened forward, eventually letting my momentum die and throwing out my legs before smacking into the side of a building.
After around ten minutes, I could start and stop with some reliability. Did we then bike to Deep Ellum Brewery, a nearby place that would allow us (mostly me) to get practice in before further destinations? Fuuuuck that! We set off for a place five miles away that requires biking through downtown Dallas. If right now you’re thinking “damn, that seems really dumb of you, Drew, given that you were still figuring out how to ride” then I commend you on your critical thinking skills, ones which I clearly had left at home that day.
I won’t bore you too much with the details, not that I could if I wanted to. Every whizzing car and honking horn as I wobbled along desperately trying to stay in the bike lane all sort of blurs together. My friends were kind enough to wait for my slow-moving ass, and it probably took around another ten minutes before I was making turns again, comically wide turns at that, but it was still better than stopping and pivoting my bike, which was how I’d managed until then.
By luck or divine intervention, we finally made it to the first brewery and locked up the bikes, fleeing inside from the biting cold to the sound of an awful local band and fancy beers. Now here is where my timing really sucked: I wasn’t actually drinking at this point. I quit booze for pretty much all of January to help shed the holiday pounds from home-cooking, which meant I couldn’t even enjoy the reward at the end of the ride. To be fair though, I’m not sure I’d have had any to start with, as careening down the streets was nightmare enough with full control of my body and senses. Two drops of hooch and I very well might have just fallen over when I tried to mount my bike.
Eventually we left, heading to the next brewery, and then the next. By this point, muscles I hadn’t used since the last time I biked (high school) were groaning in protest and my ass was killing me, as the seat had been designed more for fashion than function. Worse though, as the afternoon turned to night it was getting a lot colder, and our thick jackets weren’t cutting it anymore. After the last brewery, we biked across a small bridge to get dinner and immediately started shivering when the wind hit. By the time the meal was done, it felt another ten degrees colder, and we made the command decision to Uber home rather than brave the freezing wind.
The next day my legs were tired, my ass was sore, and my elbow throbbing from when I didn’t quite stop in time and banged into a tree. I still consider it miraculous that I didn’t seriously hurt myself, so please heed this warning good readers: don’t buy into the lie that riding a bike is a skill that doesn’t deteriorate. If you decide to go on a bike-journey, practice that shit on your own time first, and maybe pre-book a bike that’s a good fit for you.
Or just take a cab/Uber. That’s what we invented cars for in the first place.