10.11.2006

My Life Goes Downhill

I lifted up my leg, swung it around and over the seat, closed my eyes and started to pedal, all the while praying to god that I would not fall....

The last time I rode a bike in San Francisco was with my friend Omar, who knew all the ups and downs, where to go and how to get there. And that time that I rode with him ended in disaster. Just as we were pulling back into the street where he lived, I slipped on the MUNI (train) track and fell down right in the middle of the street. I narrowly missed being hit by a car and escaped with only a scraped up face and a bruised shoulder.

So this time I gingerly got back on the bike and readied myself (mentally and physically) to go on a bike ride around the city once again. And this time it was by myself. I don't even know how to ride a bike in the city, really. I mean, what am I? Am I a car? Am I a pedestrian? No, I am a bike. But what are the rules for a bike? Can you google them? Well, I did not google them; I just hopped on the bike and got in the right lane of traffic and kept my fingers crossed that nothing too large would ram into me as I was frantically pedalling down the (seemingly) busiest street in town. When I had to turn left, I just got in front of all the fast moving cars and made them wait while I got across the 6 lane, 4 way stop.

I need a blinker! I need a horn! I need a gas pedal. San Francisco is not well known for having many flat areas. Nope, San Francisco is mainly made up of hills, which is cool when you are standing at the top of one, looking down at the beautiful view. But when you are trying to GET to the top so you can look at the beautiful view, it is a different story all together. Why does a bike have so many gears? And which gear makes it so I don't actually have to pedal up the hill? Isn't there one where you can just set it and the bike coasts up the hill on its own? If there is, I have not found it. I put the bike in the lowest gear possible and pedaled so fast I thought my legs were going to spin off my body and onto the street below and STILL it took me (what seemed like) 30 minutes to get to the top of the hill.

So then wouldn't it make sense that if you are at the top, there is nowhere to go but down? Sure, if you were anywhere else but "the hilly city by the bay". Somehow, however, here in San Francisco it seems to be uphill both ways.

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