There's something wrong with my wife's lips: Despite consistently negative responses from me, they keep uttering suggestions for "activities" I should undertake. Like this weekend, when, in a tone so normal she sounds completely insane, she suggests I should take the children "mountain biking."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," I respond, which with a normal person would end the matter, but not with Mrs. Cameron.
"It would be great fun. Get out there in the fall weather."
"'Fall' is exactly what I don't want to do," I tell her pointedly.
And mountain biking isn't what I want to do either, but nonetheless I soon find myself with my three children in a bike shop, buying really stupid-looking clothing and renting "equipment" (which is ridiculous, because I still have my Schwinn Varsity ten-speed in the garage. However, I ultimately decide not to risk damaging this classic by taking it out on a dirt trail).
When the shop owner asks my skill level, I tell him "expert," over the stunned looks of my children. Hey, just because I haven't ridden since I got a driver's license doesn't mean I've forgotten how. It's like, well, it's like riding a bicycle, right?
Biking clothes are made of some weird stretch fabric that really looks great on a man my age. Any semblance of a bicep is flattened by the sleeves, and the padding between my legs makes me feel as if I am wearing a wet diaper. "You look pregnant, Dad," my daughter tells me, giggling at the way the outfit creates the illusion that my stomach sticks out.
Standing there, the shop owner "measures" me for the bike seat. In my opinion, if you want to know what size seat I need, you get a ruler and measure the blot my bathing suit leaves when I sit by the pool. Instead of a blot, this guy comes up with a speck. Why is it jeans manufacturers understand that at my age I need a little extra room, but bicycle companies still act as if I am capable of sitting in a teacup?
Bicycle seats are shaped like a 5-lb. wedgie. They come in three types: "Firm," "rock hard," and "proctologist." Oh, and they call them "saddles" now, probably so you can pretend you're John Wayne as you go biking in your geeky clothing. Sit on one and you quickly decide "saddle HORN" would be a better description.
So we get our bikes on the path and start heading straight up. "Hey!" I say after about ten minutes of this. "What are we doing? We can't go there!" I point to our apparent destination. "You know why there are no trees at the top of the mountain? Because there's no air up there! It's like the surface of the moon, nothing can survive!"
They pretend they are too far ahead of me to hear. And, to be truthful, I'm not really sure whose children I am shouting at.
When you pass someone on a mountain bike, you're supposed to say, "on your left." At least, that's what everyone says to me all day. I'm particularly troubled when young women speed past, though it's nice to make brief conversation with them as they flash by. "Fifth trip up for me today!" I tell one woman, noticing that she looks considerably better in her bike shorts than I do in mine. "Maybe I shouldn't be doing this so soon after my surgery," I ruefully suggest to another group.
My bicycle is defective, obviously: Even in first gear, it feels as though I am doing leg presses. Worse, there are these weird cages affixed to each peddle, so once my feet are inserted they are locked in place. This makes my effort to a brake an interesting event wherein I wobble at a dead stop for a full five seconds before falling over on my side.
Lying there in the dirt, my feet still wedged into their traps, I decide I would rather gnaw off my own leg than get back on the bicycle.
Eventually I struggle out from underneath the bike and sit there, finally enjoying the fall--just as my wife suggested.
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Submitted By: W. Bruce Cameron
Oct 27, 2000 10:54