MY SWEET LITTLE BIKE
Beijing, 21 August 2015
When I was young (“so much younger than today” as the Beatles sang so long ago), I was a fanatic of the bike. Well, at least during the summer holidays I was. I would spend them at my grandmother’s house in France, where there were always a bunch of bicycles, big and small, old and new, lying around and ready to be grabbed and ridden. My cousins spent the summer next door, so we would spend endless afternoons bicycling around the Beaujolais countryside which surrounded us – I’ve already written about this in a previous post.
When I was 10 or 11, my parents decided that it was time for me to have my own bike. They took me down to the main bicycle shop in the nearby market town. After a certain amount of negotiation, we agreed on a Peugeot bike. How I loved that bike! It was an exquisite light green colour, with a real leather saddle, four gears, silver mudguards, white-walled tyres, a little satchel hanging behind the saddle with all the equipment needed to mend a puncture, a pump hooked to the crossbar, lights that worked with a dynamo which clicked into place on the front wheel and which purred as I flew down the darkened lanes at night… As you can see, that bike has been etched deeply into my memory. I spent many a happy moment cleaning it, burnishing it, oiling it, pumping its tyres. Whenever I arrived for a holiday, after a hasty peck on my grandmother’s cheek, it was to my bike that I rushed, to give it a loving wipe and the first whirl of the holidays down the lanes.
Well, I grew up and moved on. The bike stayed mournfully propped against the garage wall, while I graduated to motorized transport – the moped first, then the car. I would give it a pat from time to time, and then nephews and nieces began to use it, then I stopped going to my grandmother’s house, then one day it was gone.
It’s not as if I betrayed my bike with another. Apart from a year or two when my wife and I were living near Lake Maggiore and did everything by bike – going to work of course, but also the shopping, the post office, the cleaning, and simply touring around – I just stopped riding bikes. It’s difficult to ride a bike in cities, you know, and then the kids came along, and then, and then … Even in China, empire of the bicycle (well, fast becoming the empire of the car), I never rode a bicycle.
I won’t go into the details, suffice to say that by pure happenstance I’ve been given the use of a bike, and I have a place to park it safely, both at work and at home. So now every day, I ride to and from work. On this sweet little thing.
OK, it’s not a cool racing bike like this one
or this one
And it doesn’t give me an excuse to dress up in this unutterably cool way
Nor does it allow me to go around in this intriguing way
or this extraordinary way (apparently this bike works on water too)
But that’s OK, it allows me to reconnect with the bike. And it gives my thighs a really good work-out! My daughter will be very pleased to hear that. She’s always telling me and my wife to do more exercise.
the sweet bike: my pic
Futuristic bike-2: http://images.lainformacion.com/cms/bicicleta-anfibia/2012_10_29_PHOTO-ff2bca1b09886ed6447d13ad8dbedb0b-1351511060-9.jpg?width=995&height=650&type=height&id=HejqmIQJgDeHTw3t1hrgo1&time=1351512206&project=lainformacion [in http://noticias.lainformacion.com/economia-negocios-y-finanzas/diseno-e-ingenieria/las-bicicletas-del-futuro_oe04bAJ4zY9qK4YrwN4UX1/%5D