23 May 2011, 09:35
Necklace by Betsey Johnson.
How my bicycle love affair began…
My friend Sarah Wilson, who I adore, started writing about bicycles on her blog a couple of months ago. She is a major advocate for getting on yer bike, & it’s awesome! Great for the planet, & even moreso for our bodies.
But here’s the thing… In order for me to become truly interested in something, it has to be presented in a glamorous, kinda sparkly way. Otherwise, typically, I just glaze over. I am truly part of the Magpie Generation™. So I have enjoyed Sarah’s posts, but didn’t pay them much attention, even though she clearly kicks major ass on her bike.
But about a month ago, I discovered that Kate Spade & Adeline Adeline had teamed up to create a beautiful, beautiful bicycle. I stumbled upon this video quite accidentally, & it changed my entire world.
I am not kidding. Can you believe you just saw that with your own two eyes?! Who could resist that? What a vision! I instantly tweeted, New goal: Look that cute this summer.
I wanted to wear cute dresses & cycle to & fro! I wanted a basket & a bell! I wanted to ride to my favourite juice joint (The Juice Press on 1st & 1st) & along the East River & be a-dor-able!
With that, the great bicycle hunt began…
Photo by Andrea Pun.
Similar to the way I shamelessly cruise other people’s dogs, I started blatantly eyeballing the bicycles of random people all over New York City. I looked at them with a mix of envy & admiration, thinking, ‘I want to join your cluuuuuuub!’
It’s like anything else: the more you think about it, the more you notice it. Have you ever paid attention to exactly HOW MANY bicycles there are in Manhattan? It is verging on obscene!
I had lots of requirements for my bike. As much as I love vintage cruisers & their immaculate styling, Mike, ever the voice of reason, made me realise that they are totally inappropriate for my lifestyle. I live in a walk-up building & it was really important that I could get my bike up the stairs easily! (I also knew that if my bike ended up being difficult for me to maneuver up & down several flights, it would just languish in my apartment, unused, & eyeing me guiltily every morning. What could be worse?!)
I grudgingly came to the conclusion that a folding bike was the most practical (boo, hiss!) route. I did some browsing online & all the folding bikes looked so boxy & ugly! It made me really sad, but I kept searching.
My obsession reached fever pitch on a Sunday morning, when Mike — who mostly keeps me in check — was upstate, racing his motorcycle. I hit up Google again, leaving no stone unturned in my search to find something I liked the look of.
Suddenly… What’s this? A non-boxy, almost-vintagey folding bike? The Dahon Briza, you say?! As soon as I read “the low step frame design is perfect for summer days & sun dresses”, I knew I was onto a winner! I looked up dealers & started calling around to see if anyone had it in stock. When I found one who did, I threw on a crazy, inappropriate outfit, & hotfooted it across town to have a gawk in person.
The display bike was beautiful, but it was also an unfortunate shade of beige, so I asked them to order me a black one, instead. A little under a week later, I was the proud owner of my very own Briza!
I also ordered a cute basket to snap on the front. I knew I would need one for keeping odds & ends in. The Briza actually has a luggage rack on the back too, which is so brilliant! Even before it arrived, I was envisioning Betsey Johnson’s signature fluorescent shopping bags strapped to the back fender! This is the stuff dreams are made of!
Photo from Wedding Chicks.
Okay, let me be perfectly honest: as soon as I got the phonecall that my bike had arrived, I kiiiiiiiind of broke into a cold sweat. Reality sunk in. Was I really going to get on a bike & pedal my way around a city filled with demented cabbies, mostly-blind tourists & enormous delivery trucks?
Yes. Yes, I was.
I walked my Briza out of the front door of Metro Cycles & across the road. I found a quiet little street with a cycling lane (!), adjusted the seat, hopped on & started pedalling.
As I flew — okay, rolled in a leisurely fashion — along Grand Street, I began to smile. The twinkle on my face grew wider, & before long, I was grinning maniacally all the way home.
No understatement: I have been having such a marvellous time riding around on my bicycle! Because I live right next to the East River, my first real ride was along the East River Promenade, up to 42nd Street & then down to the Williamsburg Bridge.
The Promenade is a hive of unusual activity on a sunny day. I saw a man doing yogic headstands, a girl having a picnic with her chihuahua, a man playing the trumpet in a park, lots of people fishing, lots of people running, & lots of people cycling. The subway trains rumbled across the bridge & the Empire State Building loomed behind us. It certainly wasn’t Santa Monica… but then, we like it that way.
The weather has been unseasonably wet & gross lately, so I haven’t been out riding as much as I thought, but once the sunshine comes out again, I can’t WAIT to fling my leg over my bike & go pedalling!
May is Bike Month, which is such a fortuitous coincidence! I am so excited to have joined the ranks of bicyclists in NYC, & I want to encourage other women to try cycling & see how they like it. It is the ultimate freedom, much less scary than I first thought, & such a wonderful way to get around!
New York City is a great place to cycle, too. It’s super-flat & there are bike lanes for days. It’s lovely to ride the streets, rather than being crammed into a subway car or trapped in the back of some homicidal maniac’s taxi!
I want to form an all-girl bike gang like you wouldn’t believe! Next up: my take on cycling in style, dresses on bikes & riding in heels! (Fingers crossed for good weather, so I can actually take some pictures!)