Today I took my shiny almost new bike out for a ride with my boyfriend. I haven’t been on a bike since early September so this was a real treat. Lucky for me, the phrase “you never forget, it’s like riding a bike” is mostly true. After one really noisy shift heading up the first good hill and one bobble as I tried to pass an old man walking on a bridge I pretty much remembered how to ride.
For those of you who don’t know my boyfriend, he has been cycling since the age of 13. And not just pedaling around the neighborhood, but racing. So, for me, riding with him this first time was sort of like going to batting practice with Babe Ruth or maybe hitting the driving range with (the old) Tiger Woods. I was afraid I would 1) fall off the bike, 2) run over someone, 3) get run over by someone, or 4) do something even more embarrassing than any of these things like cause a 5 car pile up. The end result of course being that he would never look at me the same again.
Well, none of those things happened. We rode through town, along the Arno River for awhile and then back home. The sun was shining, traffic was light (I think) and pedestrians were happy and alert. It was a great way to start riding here in Florence but I can‘t wait to ride where I can try a little speed. There is nothing like the wind in your face to make you feel alive.
Oh, did I mention the bell? I have wanted one since I started riding again in Minneapolis, but was led to believe that grown ups don’t have bells on their bikes. Which is true there. When a Minnesotan passes a pedestrian we shout out “on the left” or “on the right” and they get out of the way. In Florence you get a bell. Everyone has one. Everyone uses one. It’s part of the sound of traffic in Florence. And my bike had one when I got it! The funny thing is, as excited as I was to have the bell, not once did I remember to use the bell today. Next time I go out, I think I will worry less about shifting and concentrate on using the bell.