Chick Wit: It's nothing like riding a bike

Author Lisa Scottoline.
Author Lisa Scottoline. (RYAN COLLERD)
Posted: January 20, 2014

They say that you never forget how to ride a bicycle.

Once again, they don't know what they're talking about.

I say this because I got a bicycle for Christmas. And I forgot how to ride one.

In fairness to me, this bicycle came with a 54-page instruction booklet and a CD.

Let me first say that I love my gift, which was given to me by my bestie, Laura. I know how lucky I am to have a great friend like her, as well as a cool new bike. So don't think I'm ungrateful, but I never thought I'd have to study to ride a bike.

Isn't Step One: Put butt on seat?

Step Two: Point front end forward?

Step Three: Place feet on black things?

Step Four: Press down?

Step Five: Don't fall?

If only it were that easy.

The last time I rode a bicycle was in high school, which was 40 years ago. When I got the new bike, I hopped on and tried to ride it around the driveway. I managed not to fall, but I was no Lance Armstrong.

Except not even Lance Armstrong is Lance Armstrong anymore.

Bottom line, nothing about bicycles is the way I remember.

I realized this as soon as I tried to brake by pedaling backward and almost drove into a tree.

What happened to coaster brakes?

Were they too perfect and too simple to survive the modern era?

I know there's such a thing as hand brakes, but I couldn't find them on the short black stick that is now called the handlebar. My old handlebars curved around to meet me like a warm hug, but this new handlebar is something you have to lean forward to put your hands on. You know you're in the correct position when your back spasms.

And when you look up to see where you're going, you can break your own neck.

Wow!

These new bicycles are so technologically sophisticated, you don't even have to crash to injure yourself.

Plus, I can barely perch on the hard sliver of black plastic they want me to use for a seat. My old bike used to have a cushy black seat shaped like one of those paddles they use for pizza. In fact, my old seat was big enough to accommodate the butt I get from eating pizza.

I miss my old bike seat. If I could stick a Barcalounger on a bike, I would. Maybe I need a recumbent bike, or a Craftmatic adjustable bed on wheels.

Then there's the matter of adjusting my new bicycle. The bike allegedly came adjusted, but sitting on the seat was like a do-it-yourself Pap smear.

I tried to figure out how to lower the seat, but I couldn't understand the manual, so I tried to lower the handlebar instead. But I couldn't figure out that from the manual either, and this is why. The manual said, "Your bike is equipped either with the threadless stem, which clamps onto the outside of the steerer tube, or with a quill stem, which clamps inside the steerer tube by way of an expanding binder bolt."

What?

The manual told me to ask my dealer whether I had a threadless stem or a quill stem, but I'm not asking my dealer.

He doesn't know me that well.

Also, steerer isn't an adjective, no matter how you slice it.

I thumbed through the rest of the manual to learn about the gears on my new bike. I remember that my old bike had three gears, which were: the one I always use, the one I hope to use, and the one I will never use.

Then I remember when 10-speed bikes were invented, a certifiable scientific advance. I begged my parents to get me one, and they did, but I never used any gears beyond the aforementioned first three.

My new bike has 857,938 gears.

Guess how many I will use.


Look for Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella's columns in their newest collection, "Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim." Also, look for Lisa's latest Rosato & Associates novel, "Accused," in stores now.

lisa@scottoline.com.

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