The concierge slid two small keys across the counter to us for bikes #11 and #12. We walked down the dirt path that led to the bike shed and freed our rides from their coiled cable locks. Here’s what we found: one gear and a coaster brake, poor engagement in both directions, step-thru frame, a saddle like a love seat, a brown, wicker basket poorly affixed to the bars, quick-release seatpost collar both over-torqued AND slippy, and front wheel flop like a basset hound’s ears.
These bikes were pretty awful, and I was really looking forward to riding them.
My wife and I both have this expedience problem. We’re point A to point B people. To resist the urge to arrive at the destination takes work, to wander, to meander, to take our time. I extol the virtues of riding aimlessly, but I have a hard time embracing that idea much myself.
Fortunately, the bikes, a pair of Linus Dutchi 1s, were not made for arriving anywhere expediently. They were made to meander, so we commenced to meandering our asses off. We were already two weeks late celebrating our wedding anniversary, and this little weekend getaway was an exercise in hurrying up to slow down. These bikes were about to slow us way the fudge down.
For my own amusement, just about the first thing I did was bunny hop mine. Though I achieved a slim inch in vertical gain both front and rear, the sound the bike made upon reuniting with the paved bike path was akin to throwing a colander set down a pair of concrete steps. Sublime.
Next, I explored the sketchiness of the machine’s handling with a swooping slalom run that nearly turned into an agony of defeat reenactment. My wife chuckled as I wrestled the bars back to neutral, skirting the edge of the pavement and slowly unclenching my buttocks.
Then there was nothing left to do but nothing very much. We soft-pedaled (the only option) down the path with the sun on our faces and the wind at our backs (to almost no avail), broad smiles plastered to our faces. Because what isn’t transcendently magical about coasting along on a bike with nowhere to be? As neither of us had really bothered to find out where the bike path led, the question of a destination was moot.
A failure to plan is sometimes actually a plan to succeed. That’s the power of the bicycle. It’s also a best-selling bumper sticker idea.
On and on we went, past an ice cream shop and then a salt marsh. Eventually a beach appeared on one side, waves slowly lapping at the sand. “On your left! On your left!” A steady stream of more ambitious pedalers went by us, none of them sparking even a scintilla of competitive interest in my heart. In fact, I felt sorry for them. Goals are for suckers. Effort is for people with something to prove.
I was in thrall to the irresistible roll of the beach cruiser.
Eventually the path came to an end in an even smaller beach community than the one we’d departed from. We locked the bikes to a rack (with those slim, sad cable locks that mean nothing to a bike thief of any experience at all), and set out on foot, quickly discovering coffee and pastry, which we purchased for consumption back at the beach we’d passed on the way down.
My ass had begun to hurt, the result of a too big, too soft saddle, but that’s ok, because back at the beach I stripped down to my civvies and plunged into the bracing surf. The ocean water in New England is almost never warm, even in high summer, but I like that feeling of slight ache in my bones as the cold blooms. I was having a heckuva good time.
In the end, I think we traveled ten miles, maybe a tick more, in the hours we had these terribly great bikes. I didn’t know you could go so slowly. Were they possibly also time machines? In that case, there’s a bargain to be had. I suspect though, with a little practice, you can take just about any bike that will roll in a mostly straight line, put in almost no effort, and achieve something like the same, sublime result.