My bike and I are seeing other people. It’s a thing we do sometimes, and in truth, we’ve never been all that exclusive. Every relationship has its habits and foibles and that is ours. There’s always someone else, flirting from across the room, winking as I walk by. And ever so often, I succumb to the temptation.
Sometimes, it’s the beach or the swimming pool. Other times, it’s the couch or a good novel. Lately, it’s been a surfboard. The Pacific is alive. It’s impossible to resist the lure of perfect winter surf. Or even, not that perfect spring surf. Or even, any surf at all. And so, my surfboard and I are going steady.
I wake up in every morning and I check the tides. I drink an espresso, sometimes two. Then, I tuck my board under my arm and saunter right past my bike. I put my board on the car and drive away, leaving the bike behind. I walk down the beach with my board held close. It’s all so fresh and exciting. We can’t get enough of one another.
The bike doesn’t much like the beach – Too much sand. There’s sand between my toes and kelp in my hair. Sand falls out of the cuffs of my jeans and down between the seats of the car. It’s all a bit gritty and smelly. None of this is the kind of thing that the bike especially enjoys. She likes to be clean. She definitely does not like sand in her sprockets.
And in fact, the bike is a pretty demanding sort. She has a lot of moving parts that require constant attention. The surfboard, I smear some wax on and we’re good to go. The bike, it’s chain lube and derailleur adjustments and brake pads, and who knows what all else. She likes everything done just so. She is the definition of high maintenance.
But we’ve had some times together, the bike and I. We once went traipsing off together with only a hand-drawn map to guide us home. We’ve survived rides turned too long on days too hot. We’ve explored new roads and whisked through perfect, banked corners. We’ve met new people, some of them full of wondrous stories. We’ve groveled up steep climbs together and celebrated each hard-won summit.
She’s high maintenance and persnickety, but the bike is also reliable. She shows up. She’s there whenever I need to escape those things in life that need escaping. There are always those things, and then, only the bike will do. She never complains, not even when the sky opens up and the rain torrents down. She’s always ready to go, always up for anything. She never has a headache.
And so in the end, we always get back together. Maybe it’s the turning of the seasons or the phase of the moon, but eventually, it always happens. I turn away from my new-found fling and return to the bike. I come home. Every time, the bike and I pick up just about where we left off. It’s as if nothing could possibly come between us, and just like that, we’re a pair again, a couple, exclusive.
We roll out together each day in search of adventure. We climb that one climb just to see where it goes. We romp down switchbacks and sometimes, we get a little crazy. When we’re feeling mellow, we amble along without much in the way of purpose or direction. It’s nice, just hanging out with the bike like that. Sometimes, we escape high into the hills and look behind us at the frenetic energy of the world below.
I feel the wind rush over me. I hear the poetry of the road. I watch the colorful blur of the scenery, a constantly shifting kaleidoscope. I relax into the bike’s hypnotic rhythm. My legs ache. My lungs catch fire.
And I fall in love all over again.