Discovered A Bike

(2022-10-30 20:02:29) 下一個

Into the second half of October, it has cooled down quite a bit. Mornings

already feel chilly, the gingko crowns are turning golden, and everywhere the

motors of leaf blowers remind people of the season.


Saturday, Bill took a break from jiu-jitsu and rode 20 miles to his old house

in Fremont. He took Tim's e-bike, a gift from mom a year ago which had since

been gathering dust in the hallway. Bill himself would never buy a toy like that

but being the family bucket dipper, he had always sought to exploit. After

trying it out a couple of times, Bill decided that the bike would be perfect for

grocery shoppings, library visits, and commute. With current gas prices, it

would save him at least $30 a week, he estimated and, in a year, he could

recover its cost.


Before the 1990s, there were no buses in small-town China where he grew up and

bikes were the major means of transportation. In the early 80s, even motorcycles

were rare. It was typical that one family owned one bike and almost everyone a

mechanic. Dad was good at fixing flat tires. He would first pump some air and

sink one segment of the tube at a time in a basin of water to find the bubbling

hole. Next, he would file the area around the opening and the round patch cut

out of an old tube before glueing them together. It was low-tech job requiring

patience. Dad did the regular maintenance, too. The bike was a sturdy work horse

used for everything from daily commute and errands to occasional longer trips to

visit relatives. To a working family, it was an important asset.


Things changed dramatically in a few years afterwards. In the late 80s,

motorcycles were popular and private cars started to come onto the scene.

Meanwhile, Bill owned and lost bikes in college. In summer breaks, he rode

between his university in Bejing and his hometown in HeBei. Six hours under the

scorching sun was all worth it when he opened the front gate and announced his

arrival to the beaming faces of his parents. Plus, he saved on train fare, which

was very cheap, but that was how his mind worked. Afterwards, he had to stay

away from the bike for one week for his butts to recover.


In America, he drove as Americans did but occasionally rode his Dahon folding

bike after dropping off Tim in the morning. He could not grasp the idea

of riding for exercise, however. Many a time on a paved trail, rangy

athletes clad in tight-fitting polyester cycling wear and packed with explosive

power and endless endurance, zoomed by and left him staring with admiration. But

he had no desire to imitate. He had never looked athletic until recently and 

believed he had better ideas on how to sweat.


Biking to commute was unappealing in general. For one thing, Bill had never felt

comfortable sharing the road with cars. When the light turned green at the

intersection, e.g., time was of the essense. He hated to keep others waiting but

pedaling simply couldn't deliver the acceleration. There was also the innate

worry about motor vehicles around. With road-rage stories making regular news,

could he really trust those drivers? As much as he loved saving money, he had

stayed mainly to the trails.


The e-bike dispelled his street fears and other complaints. One pedaling cycle

would trigger the motor for a powerful boost and, as a result,

intersections no longer posed a problem. Its pedal-assisting and fat tires, once

adapted to, made riding so much fun. The inclines, headwinds, or bumpy dirt and

gravel trails were all overcome by the extra push. 20 miles would give him a

good cardio exertion but it would not take him more than one night to recover.


It also seemed people had been working to improve for cycling. Since Covid, more

and wider bike lanes appeared on city streets, a new multi-use overpass was

completed a year ago across 101 in Palo Alto, and the SF Bay Trail had been

closing gaps and recently went around East Palo Alto by wooden plank paths over

the marsh. For the 20 miles he had to cover, only 2.5 miles were in the city, the

rest was trails.


Sunday morning, after lifting weight, Bill jumped on the fully recharged e-bike

heading back to Mountain View. After crossing Coyote Hills, he took the levee,

the route he used to run on, which in time led him onto the Dumbarton bridge.

Traffic was light under an overcast sky. Onto the peninsula, he rode briefly on

University avenue before turning left onto Bay Trail. Overall, the trip took him

80 minutes and was again a great exercise. It did not tire him out and he took

the bike for another spin in the afternoon for grocery shopping. The e-bike was

an ingenious idea which the kid discovered for him. Thank You!

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閱讀 ()評論 (4)
7grizzly 回複 悄悄話 回複 'stillthere' 的評論 : Thanks stillthere for stopping by and pointing me to mullet bikes. Google said they were for pros. Before the happy discovery, I'll keep that mind. Cheers!
stillthere 回複 悄悄話 Someday you may discover the magic of mullet bikes, as I have...
7grizzly 回複 悄悄話 Dear 暖冬,

Glad to see you back! And thank you, as always, for reading and your kind comments.

The bike has a special place in the memories of many Chinese growing up in that
era. And Bill's extremely happy to have discovered the e-bike, which gave him a
sense (or illusion) of self-reliance from the tyranny of capitalism, big oil,
and consumerism.

Thank you for catching the typo! Writing is a never-ending uphill battle :-)
暖冬cool夏 回複 悄悄話 Wow, what a long distance of e-biking that Bill amazingly covered within only 80 minutes! I have two bikes in the garage that collect dust and are flat tires for years. We bought for J in her high school, but she only rode once or twice. Later, I thought of riding to work too, but never tried once. As you said here, it felt risky riding in the bike lane when cars zoomed by fast by the side.
It's a great read, and your writing flows immaculately and humorously. Love it! One small typo here, in case one day you would publish them, and to show that I really read :)), it is "run", not "ran" in the last paragraph.