Tinder was a gift from Jon last summer. She survived a bike shop fire and emerged relatively unscathed, save a couple yellow streaks on her steel frame from the heat of the blaze. In her simple white and pink beauty, big thick wheels and a coaster brake, she embodies both simplicity and fun in cycling. I couldn't recall the last time I had a bike whose sheer purpose was fun, Tinder the Pink Cruiser Bike brought a welcome reprieve from my Race Ready Cycling Beasts that normally get sweated, sworn and drooled over.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time on Tinder, at the start primarily meandering through the neighborhood. For my birthday last year I got a beautiful Nantucket Bucket basket which became an enabler to get a couple groceries, or transport a few items from point A to B. Jon and I sometimes ride our cruisers over to the stadium to get Indian food or ice cream, an act that occurs more frequently in the Off-Season than the On.
I had been spending more time than usual riding around on Tinder when I began to warm up to the idea of cycle commuting. The return of cycling confidence in the spring coupled with my newfound enthusiasm for saving money (more accurately: my newfound enthusiasm for saving money I can then spend towards something else) spurred me to action. Seeing I had kindly lent my baby brother my old-school, unassuming but Bad Ass old Cannondale road bike, (which would be perfect for commuting, by the way Thomas, but really no rush to get it back) I was left with little other choice to ride. I certainly didn’t want to ride either my pimped out Racing Road Bike or pimped out Mountain Bike to work. Tinder was logical. She was sturdy, reliable and not too flashy. She could get me 7.9km to work and 7.9km home without much fuss.
I didn't anticipate the joy I'd feel commuting to work. In the dark crisp air of the morning I set out, pedalling as fast as my legs will allow in my cramped up -and not very efficient- cruiser bike position. At the end of the day when the warmth of the day allows for less clothing and more sun exposure, I pedal off the day while heading home. I let myself be passed by almost everyone sharing the commuter lanes with me, with the exception of both other women on bikes and other people on cruisers. I feel I am at a distinct disadvantage being in completely upright position and riding my 21 pound steel-frame, one-gear, Coaster brakebike. The competitor in me just can't allow to be passed by those peeps (the women, the cruiser folk), although sometimes I want to scream at those burning past me (my Father in Law laughingly refers to this time of day in Calgary as the "Commuter Olympics") CONGRATULATIONS FOR BEATING THIS CHICK, YO! I'M RIDING A STEEL FRAMED BEAST! I ALSO HAVE A BACKPACK ON! I'M RIDING WITH AN EXTRA 20 SOME ODD POUNDS! YES YOU MUST FEEL SO GOOD BEATING A GIRL ON A ONE SPEED BIKE! LUCKY YOU!
But I never do.
I simply sit back and enjoy, upright pedalling into the downtown as the sun rises and the Calgary Tower grows bigger in my view as I make the journey to work.
I was afforded a well-timed long weekend here just now. Jon, Hillary and I busily filled up our days, stacking visits to wineries between races, adding runs in the blistering heat to the marathon program, getting up (willingly!) at dawn to swim in the pristine waters of Gyro Beach. We rewarded ourselves with these early morning swims with Brioches and the best coffee I’ve had outside of Italy at Gio’s. We delighted in taking each day at a time, choosing activity, choosing fun (but mostly choosing wine).
We went on a self-guided wine tour extravaganza around the Okanagan that has completely filled up Jon and my modest wine shelving unit. Being amid the vineyards brought back floods of memories from California to Italy to France and beyond. As we sipped, swirled and sniffed (and drank!) the contents of our ever-changing glasses I am reminded what a passion I have for wine. I think about the classes I took, the tastings on trips, the regions I’ve experienced…I consider the knowledge that is wine and what exactly I should do about it. So I put a pin in that idea to sit on, and drained my glass I was no doubt holding at the time. I know something will present itself when the time is right.
Some of my favorite moments of the weekend (aside from the excessive wine tasting, Jon’s double win and Gio-Bean-ing) were under Dorrie’s Peach tree in her backyard. Hillary and I would spend a few hours each day sitting in the sun, reading, writing and napping. When the sweltering heat started to go to my head, I’d take refuge under the speckled shade of the Peach Tree. Here I’d lay, looking at the unwrinkled blue sky above, letting my thoughts drift between the serious and non-serious. Letting myself mull over life as it is, life as it has passed and life as it may be ahead. It is these moments of quiet I am craving the most in the return to the hustle of work and life.
Why is it that life so clear away from home? I’m not sure, but I know why that drives me to want to escape, even if only for a few days. I’m sure swimming at Gyro and consuming Americanos from big cups and finishing up delicious wine is probably part of the clarity of this go-round. That and the quiet afternoon moments where I would wipe away the sweat the was dripping into my eyes as I looked out to the sky and ran my fingers through the grass, looking at the Peaches wondering when one would be ready to reach up and pick.
I live in Calgary where I own a small business, instruct fitness classes and call myself an endurance athlete. I am the proud owner of four bikes, an expensive wine education, and a strange fascination with the colour orange. I have a long-time love of football, baking, and coffee. I put my minor in creative writing to use occasionally both here and in other publications.
I live with my tall, handsome and often-hungry professional triathlete husband.