And it was just like riding a bike.
It was my bike.
That is correct.
I am back on my bicycle.
I mean, I did go for a brief ride last Sunday, Noriega Produce and back and also to the Safeway at Fulton and La Playa, but a real ride, nope.
Not until today.
I did the same ride.
However, first I had to change the flat tire from yesterday. As I suspected the running out of coffee was the prompt needed to get me into motion. I was determined after I ground up the last of my beans this morning to fix the flat and go hunter gather some more coffee beans up.
I had a meeting beforehand and some reading to do and that was done and plans were made for some more of that in the future. It is really quite nice to be back in the routine of making time to see other people for an hour or so once a week and do some reading and gaining of perspective.
It really is the bright spot of my life.
I also did some writing and some meditation prior to the bicycle tire change out.
I finished those two things up after my guest left and decided the best thing to do was to make some lunch, because I know better than to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, and that it would be helpful to have food in me before doing anything mechanical.
Not that I haven’t changed a flat tire before, I have, it’s just that there’s something about it, that does make me want someone else to do the work.
There is often a part of me that wonders why in the hell do I bother?
How come I put in so much time?
Then I remember, oh yeah, my life was awful and the only way it got better was showing up and doing the work that other people had suggested I do.
And there’s only more work to be done.
I want to rest on my laurels and I want you, nebulous you, to change my flat tire.
Really, it’s not too hard, you can do it.
I can do it.
And I did.
And there was a solid feeling of accomplishment about it. This is a bike I have broken down and packed up and carried across the Pond, yeah, the big one, to Paris and back, I have reassembled it, changed other flat tires (sometimes putting said tires on backwards, oops, but still), yet there is a thought, false, that I cannot possibly do it again.
That it’s too hard and that it’s something to push-off and put aside for another day.
Today is the day.
I felt it.
I wanted to be on my bike.
It did not hurt that the day was glorious September in San Francisco weather at its absolute finest–clear, high blue skies, no clouds, scant breeze, mid 70s–and it was just hollering to me to take advantage of it.
I opened up the door to the garage and the sun poured in.
I flipped over the bike and propped it against the wall in the garage and used my handy bicycle 15mm wrench and lever combo to unscrew the bolts on the front wheel.
I examined the valve closely and determined that it was indeed broken and I had to replace the entire tube. I set down the bolts carefully to make sure I did not displace them and got the old dish towel out of my linen closet to use to wipe down my hands. I used the lever and pulled the tire, a Gatorskin, off the rim.
Then I pulled out the old inner tube and tossed it in the trash.
I opened up the new tube, unscrewed the valve and put a little air in the tube to help it line up with the rim (rims which I still love but can see perhaps replacing with a new set up in about a year, maybe some Halo reflectors or a mirror rim from Velocity), then I slipped the Gatorskin back onto the rim.
Then the tricky part.
Getting the tire back into the rim.
I took a minute.
It took me a while longer than a minute, but not more than five or ten.
I kept rolling the tire between my hand and the rim and it just wouldn’t catch.
I was about to give up.
I thought, well, I can still take the tire over to Swell, the local bike shop at Irving and 42nd, but give it one more go.
And then it just caught.
I levered the tire onto the rim, rolled it through my hands to make sure that the inner tube was not pinched between the rim and the tire, and then I put it back on the front fork, screwed it tight, flipped it over, inflated it, and voila!
Good as new.
I did feel deeply satisfied.
It’s a small thing, but I like that I can change my own flat tire.
I washed up and headed out to the grocery stores.
It was beautiful, the sun shone down, the water on the ocean glittered, the breeze blew, my feet were connected and I felt surer on the bicycle than last week, and my ankle, though stiff, felt capable to do the job.
After my second trip, the most important one, the one to get coffee, I also realized that I was going to be able to ride my bike to the Inner Sunset.
I could feel it.
It was going to happen.
I think I was actually more nervous about how my quads would feel after not being on my bicycle for three and a half months and riding up the incline on Lincoln from 46th Avenue up to 9th Avenue.
The quads held.
My ankle held.
I did it!
My ankle is stiff and my thighs are a little sore, but really, not bad at all.
Really quite happy.
“This month, dancing, no excuses, you can ride your bike, you can go dancing,” my friend said to me as we parted this evening.
I can see it.
Maybe not this week.
But if I can get back in the saddle.
I can get back on the dance floor.
It is good to be more myself than I have been in months.
Grateful for the healing.
And for the patience to let myself heal.
And for knowing that tomorrow I won’t be riding my bike.
I know to not push too hard as well.
One day on.
One day off.
Until I am fully back in the groove.
No need to kill myself.
I will be picking up my playa bike from Cole Valley.
And that’s a ride of an entirely different sort.
Be on the lookout for my purple pennant.
As I ride again.