Saturday, June 26, 2010

This is the humorous story of a boy--a boy, his girl and two bikes. But I’m getting ahead of myself because the bikes didn’t start off in the opening scene. Let me start where every good story begins.

My mom, George and I spent last weekend at Callaway Gardens. We started our Saturday morning with what was supposed to be a 2.5-mile hike around one of the lakes on the premise. When our off-road trail dead ended into the road, our only directional indication was a sign that instructed us to “follow the bike path back to the boat house.” The only problem was that the bike path went to the left and to the right. I recommended we go left. We went right. Ten minutes down the oppressive, shadeless path, we approached a way-marking sign. Lo and behold it listed the boat house...with an arrow directing us in the direction from which we came. (Imagine that.)

We paused, soaking in the humidity and our quandary. I said we needed to backtrack, but others insisted if we pressed on in our present direction, we’d “cheat” the path and get back to the car sooner. Ok, fine.

A few minutes later, we found ourselves standing near the shore on a 180-degree heading from the boat house, which was tauntingly visible across the lake but a long walk away. Fortunately for us, this side of the lake had a bike rental station, and I proposed we use this to our advantage. After all, it was stifling hot, Tipper was tired, and every stomach was hungry.

I told the girl on the other side of the window separating me from the air-conditioning that all we wanted were two bikes that could get us back to the car. We didn’t need anything fancy, just something with two wheels we could ride. Half seriously, my mom asked if they had a bike for two.

“Yes,” A/C girl replied. “For an adult and small child.”

“Don’t I count?” I jested.

Unbeknownst to any of us at the time, this was the epitome of ironic foreshadowing. (Pay attention English majors.)

So she filled out the necessary paperwork to let us borrow their most basic cycles.
“They’re not very good,” she warned.

“That’s OK,” I said confidently. “We’ll be fine.”

When we handed in our request to the man responsible for setting Callaway’s two-wheel tourists on their voyages, he did a slight double-take at the paper in his hands.

“Oh, you’re getting these?” He confirmed.

“Yes, we’ll be fine,” I emphasized yet again. “We’re triathletes. We just need bikes to get us back to the car, which is on the other side of the lake.”

And so our story began. Up until now, it had not been an adventure--just a lot of dialog explaining why we wanted bikes, and not the nice kind.

I couldn’t help but giggle uncontrollably as George & I started peddling out the gate and on our way. I haven’t ridden a “normal” bike in years. These days, my familiarity with bikes is within the parameters of triathlons. I’m used to aero bars, clip-in peddles, and hard, narrow seats. These handle bars were high, my feet were free, and a wide, cushy seat supported my tush. I was in unfamiliar territory, which usually results in giggling.

A few yards down the road, I hit a bump and went airborne, thanks to the super-shocks on these babies. Almost simultaneously, George changed gears on his bike, resulting in a noise that seriously made me question the integrity of our transportation. It sounded like the whole bike was going to crumble to pieces beneath him.

We kept riding.

Two minutes later, George threw his chain trying to change gears again. He replaced it, and we kept on riding.

We got a little farther this time, maybe 5 or 7 minutes down the path, and this time when he changed gears, the chain stayed in place....the derailleur just broke.

“My bike broke, Britni.”

“What?,” I said, chuckling as a turned to find him behind me. “What do you mean it broke?”

“It’s broke. For good.”

It was true. That bike wasn’t going to roll its tire any further into our journey. Fortunately, the bike rental place had provided us with locks and combinations for the bikes. These came in handy when we finally decided on chaining the broken bike to a tree for safe keeping (because someone might really want to run off with a broken bicycle).

And while a very viable option would have been for me to ride the bike and George to run along beside me (he could have kept up), we opted for the old-fashioned approach, and I hoped on the handle bars. There are a few things to keep in mind at this point: 1) As the above picture accurately depicts, I was in a rather short jean skirt, and 2) I’ve never ridden on handlebars before. But off we went. Riding.

I laughed the whole way.

There are several good reasons for my entertainment, not the least of which was the fact that since the bike seat was too low, George’s knees bounced up and bopped my behind with nearly every revolution of the peddles. Then there was my imaginary eavesdropping on the thoughts of those we crossed paths with. In my mind, the women were thinking things like Oh, that’s sweet. The men: Good grief. And I imagined a funny response from George might be, “Yeah, I love going biking with her, but she just refuses to peddle.”

One guy verbally expressed his sympathy for poor George.

“That’s the rough way to go,” he said, as we went our separate directions.

For the most part, things went exceptionally smoothly. I bounced around on the handlebars, and George got in his daily workout. I trust George, which was mandatory in our present situation, especially when we started a rapid descent down a curvy hill. As we approached the turn about half-way down the slope, George announced we had no brakes.

“I have the brakes pulled all the way in. They’re not doing anything,” he said.

We made it through the corner, and I continued to giggle, knowing how ridiculous we must have looked.

Fortunately for my bottom and George’s legs, the car wasn’t much further. We celebrated our success, loaded the bike on the rack, and drove back to the other side of the lake to return it and pick up my mom and Tipper.

“Where’s the other bike?” my mom inquired when she saw us.

“Oh, yeah,” I said. “About that...”

1 comment:

  1. You're hilarious. And brave, to ride on handlebars on such a scary, brakeless bike!