I bought this bike a couple of years ago for forty bucks at the pawn shop around the block, and so instead of buying a new bike, I took it to our local bike shop and got it tuned up. New tires, brake pads, shifter cables (which came undone yesterday so back it goes on today) and the crowning glory, the cargo baskets on the back.
My bike is so much fun that I’ve been inventing errands just so I can go ride it someplace. I can bring two full bags of groceries home from the store in those baskets. I can run my errands, get some exercise, and get all happy at the same time with the joy of cruising around town on a bike, just like I was a kid again.
The funny thing is that it was baskets exactly like these that made me the laughing stock of the fifth and sixth grade. The only one who had a dorkier bike than mine was Valerie, whose parents hadn’t noticed that her little-kid bike didn’t fit her anymore. We all rode our bikes to school when I was a kid — it was probably two miles each way from our house, a straight shot down Western Avenue. We only had a school bus from Thanksgiving to Easter, when it was too snowy to ride bikes. It took about half an hour to ride to school and when we first moved back into town, I didn’t have a bike (because Patrick had left mine on the ground in front of the garage door and Mom backed over it one day). I rode her old bike for a while, and then my grandmother bought me a new bike. It was yellow, pretty much like the one I’m riding now except that it only had one speed (like a little-kid bike, very uncool when everyone else was riding three- or ten-speeds) and coaster brakes. And those baskets. We all carried these big leather cases for our books and while I wanted a rack, that I could strap my case to with a bungie cord like the cool kids, what I got was the big cargo baskets.
Of course, my grandmother liked the cargo baskets for the same reason I love mine now. They are very practical. And I find it quite entertaining that the same baskets that caused me endless moritification at 11, fill me with great joy at my advanced age as I zip around town doing all my errands, getting exercise, not burning fossil fuels, and feeling myself fill with sheer, kid-like joy.