In the saddle: Dude, where’s my bike?
October 12, 2011
ASPEN – My favorite bike ride is the straight shot from my house, down Cooper Avenue to Belly Up Aspen; it takes all of three minutes.
But I grew up in the culture-free zone of Livingston, N.J., and virtually any event worth going to meant a car ride to a train station, a train ride into New York, then a subway or walk to Madison Square Garden or the Theater District.
Biking to Belly Up has represented a kind of freedom – freedom from time constraints, freedom from traffic and travel plans. Getting on my bike at my front door, I could fly down the hill and in the span of a TV commercial break be at the lip of the Belly Up stage, ready to see Lucinda Williams, B.B. King, Railroad Earth.
This past Friday, it was another of my heroes, Ziggy Marley. And perhaps while he sang “Wild and Free,” the title song from his latest album, my own freedom was being whisked away. My mountain bike (black Cannondale, six years old and, might I add, of no great value on the pawn market) had been stolen. It is – I’m not yet ready to say “was” – my only bike, and my primary means of transportation all year long. As my daughter put it, how’s anyone going to recognize you without your bike?
I’ve felt awfully earthbound these past few, bike-less days. Walking seems a painfully, wastefully slow way to get from point A to point B. A neighbor kindly loaned me a bike which, on Tuesday, I rode out to the ABC for an appointment. Better than walking or busing, yes, but the bike – a three-speed townie – also seemed to reinforce my dependence on a decent, fast mountain bike.
I’m happy to report that, at the moment at least, I’m free of anger and obsession – in way better shape than Peewee Herman was in “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” when his bike was swiped. (I’ll tell you this: If some gypsy lady tells me my bike is in Texas, I ain’t about to go there to find out.) I’m grateful to everyone who has offered a loaner, asked if I’ve found my bike – and to Chuck, who yelled out of his car, “I hope they chop his balls off.” It’s been nice to feel the sense of community around me, even for something as small as a missing bike.
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Still, I’d love it back. I expect that getting a call saying, I’ve got your bike and I want to return it, will engender a special kind of freedom. And not just for me.