The wind is blowing in my hair and cooling my face. The hot ashphalt has a toxic rubbery smell mixed with all the flowers of summer.
Gross—I’m pedaling so fast I swallowed a bug. Spit. Spit. Spit. My legs are strong pushing up the big hill. My lungs are burning with exertion.
I’m 15. My bike is my steed: a silver 10-speed that gives me the freedom to go wherever I want. My body is young, fit, strong, and doesn’t mind cycling for hours. Whether to swim practice, Amy’s house, the grocery store, the movies, the video arcade, or dance rehearsal, it’s summer and my perky butt can pedal me anywhere.
My love affair with my bike was cemented that hot 80s summer. Even after I got my car the next summer, my sturdy bike always had my back. Like an old friend I haven’t talked to in a while, my bike and I would pick up right where we left off.
Our relationship got serious again when I moved to New York City in the 90s. Being athletic was my social life, my identity, and my comfort zone. I ran marathons, did the Century Bike Tour, swam relays around Manhattan. I was buff and strong.