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A Girl and Her Bike

July 15, 2011

…Makes men* act like chivalrous idiots.

You see, I just bought a pretty neat bike after five-point-five years of living here and after seven years of not riding a bike. It’s true what they say, you never do forget how to ride a bike. Yet, every day I seem to forget just how awful the hills are here, which is why I waited so long to actually purchase a bike. Bus Nerd, also a regular bike-ist, helped me pick one out, and showed me how to use the bus bike rack. However, I can no longer enjoy reading on my bus rides to work because I’m so intently staring out the windshield, my eyes plastered to the handlebars, waiting for them to disappear from sight so I can begin to panic. (What are the stats on the bike racks failing anyway?) The time there was already a bike on the rack when the bus pulled to my stop made me have a minor heart attack. But I know I’m doing it right. It’s not hard.

My bike weighs approximately one ounce, and I’m able to hoist it over my shoulder and up and down the stairs of train stations while in heels with ease. The biggest problem I have is that my purse slides off my arm while I’m bending and squatting. Last night, my helmet tumbled out of my basket and down the flight of stairs. I ran after it, bike still over my shoulder, in platform shoes. And also, the train was coming. But I made it, because I’m pretty fucking awesome.

Anyway, that’s not the point of all this, just the setup; I’m using the bus and train with my bike now, going to two jobs and all that. One of my jobs is in the beauty industry, which requires that I look like I give a shit, which often means dresses and heels. I went out and bought some bike shorts and everything to accommodate the leg-lift kick-back maneuver I need to do in order to get on the damn thing. (Tangent: WTF is up with gendered bikes? Bike shorts sorta render the crossbar/step-through issue irrelevant.)

Well apparently, my mode of dress, plus bikes and transit, confuses the shit out of some men. Or maybe it doesn’t confuse them, but alters their brains in such a way (braaaaaains) that they end up needing to be heroes or something, as though I look totally fucking helpless hauling ass up the stairs with a bike on my back. Also, I’ve only owned the bike for a week, which means that these things happened pretty much in a row. So I’m still righteously indignant, pissed, and pseudo-feminist about it. (This is totally a feminist-type equality issue, but it’s one of the bitchiest kind.)

  • When exiting at Lindbergh to transfer to the 5 bus, the man at the gate next to me reached over and tapped me out. What the shit? I told him I needed the transfer on my card and let the gates close up again, so that I could tap out, because I don’t purchase a weekly card, because sometimes I don’t go to work every day of the week, which makes it a waste of money. My card was in one hand, and my bike was in the other, and yet this bit of tapping assistance was supposed to make my day? You know what really makes my day? Someone either not noticing me at all, or noticing me enough to see that I’m a capable human being who’s pretty much got all of this physically under control.
    When I shared this story at the bar, my friend Hill said he was just being nice. You know what would have actually been nice? Not fucking up my transfer and costing me two dollars.

  • When putting my bike on the front rack of the 5, (the rack is down and the bike is hoisted to my shoulders) some guy starts grabbing the front wheel of my bike, trying to direct it onto the rack. Except he was totally directing it onto the wrong fucking area of the rack, and if I had paid any attention to him, (aside from using the bike as a weapon with which to hit him) my bike would have just rolled right off. (When I told Hill this, she immediately said “You don’t touch other people’s property!” Yes. This.) I was shouting NO NO NO at him the whole fucking time, yet he persisted in standing next to me and fucking shit up. Once I had the wheels in the channel, he took the securing hook (thingie) and tried to hook it through the spokes of my wheel. Motherfucking what? “It does like this,” he said, still trying to hook the arm into instead of onto my wheel. No, it doesn’t. Obviously, you don’t know how it does like, because you’re doing it goddamnmotherfucking wrong.
    Public Service Announcement: If you don’t know how it does, then don’t fucking try to help someone who does know how it does, and also, is capable of raising a bike overhead and slamming it down on top of you. Not that I did this, but I wanted to, really badly. I’m pretty sure a bike is not considered a deadly weapon, nor vehicular homicide, but I don’t really want to learn about that on my way to work.

  • When departing the 5 at Lindbergh (Okay, maybe it’s only dudes at Lindbergh who are total twatsnots. Or too much of my time is spent there.) I barely get off the bus when some other guy looks at me holding my helmet, and looks at the bike. As I step around to the front of the rack and undo the hook thingie, he tries to lift the bike off. In case this situation isn’t clear: While my hands are on the frame, he reaches in between me and my bike and tries to lift it off. I’ll presume he wasn’t trying to steal it. Again, I yelled NO NO NO and swung the bike like a battle axe.

    What is going on here? Actually, don’t answer that, because it’s this: Under the guise of “nice,” people are acting as though a woman can’t handle a bicycle, or possibly life. It’s a shitty assumption because it’s not true, but also because the niceness is false as well. Real nice people would ask if one needed assistance before touching things or costing someone money. Real nice people would keep an eye out if something falls over, or if someone is injured and then offer help. Once, I was in Minneapolis with Bus Nerd, and this kid on the train had a coffee and was trying to hook his bike up to the wall rack with one hand. Bus Nerd asked if the kid needed help, and then held the coffee cup while everything else was squared away. That is nice. Notice how Bus Nerd didn’t just grab the bike from him and hook it up himself as if the kid was a total fucking idiot. Also, that kid actually did need assistance. What’s going on here isn’t nice, it’s assumptive and projecting. And I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t happen to a man with a bike. Especially if that man was wearing a skirt.

    TL;DR: Fuck off, don’t touch my shit. I got it.

    *Okay, fine. Some. These three at least.

  • 3 Comments leave one →
    1. CubeDweller permalink
      July 15, 2011 4:26 pm

      Yep, men are idiots. I know, because I are one. But they also probably think your bike weighs 500 lbs, because most non-riders only remember their bikes from childhood, which weighed 300 lbs (kids bikes are smaller). That said, I have ridden with ‘real” cyclists who were shocked, SHOCKED! my bike weighs as little as it does, what with the big fat 650B tires, a rack, fenders,and other non-wannabe-race-bike features. So attribute some of your experiences to male stupidity, but also factor in that most adult Americans have no idea what a modern bicycle is like, which is just sad.

    2. Hannah Amick permalink
      July 19, 2011 12:06 pm

      Hey! Love your blog! Thought you ladies might find the newest show of Sidewalk Radio (on AM 1690) up your alley. It is ALL about Marta. It features guests chatting about Marta’s art, history, architecture. The show aired last night!

      Here is the scoop on the show and to listen live:

      Thoughts on posting this info for your Marta lovin’ readers? Sidewalk Radio is a great local listen.

    3. Debbie permalink
      July 25, 2011 5:04 pm

      Note self: If I see a woman wearing a dress, with platform heels, bike shorts and a purse on her shoulder, I ain’t going anywhere near her!!! (I hang around Lindbergh a lot too.)

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