Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving (...and how Shelby is my best friend)

Lovelybicycle has issued a Thanksgiving challenge to encourage grateful notes to our steeds.  I wrote about Shelby, my 1948 Shelby Supreme, because she came into my life exactly when I needed her.  I will write about her discovery soon (as soon as I get her set up for glamour shots!), but until then, here's my letter to her.

Dear Shelby,

How did you manage to call to me, a young southern girl who hadn't ridden a bike since she was a child?   How did you convince me to take on the challenges of a vintage bike with no bicycle knowledge?  Perhaps it was your understated beauty, with faded blue and red paint.  Maybe it was the rust pantina on your full metal fenders, or the flower shape of your crank.  But you knew I needed you; I needed your life lessons.

You're sixty-two years young, and your patience knows no bounds.  When I took you apart as a bicycle novice, you did not quiver.  When I felt lost after a hard day at a new job, you let the wind fly through my hair.  When I wanted to back out of a new party, you gently urged me onward.

You introduced me to new friends, new hobbies, new life.

Thank you for your wisdom: for teaching me to be brave on the streets, for giving me strength as a young woman alone in a new city, for showing me simple joy when life seemed dark.

Thank you Shelby, for being my best friend.  You have brought so much happiness to my new life.  I sincerely can't imagine what my life would be like without you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dating Myself (...or my bicycle)

I was working all Halloween weekend running some projects during our plant’s shutdown.  A few things went wrong on Friday and I came home after a 12 hour day exhausted, knowing I had to be back in by 5:30am the next morning.  

What’s a girl to do?  

I couldn’t let my Friday go to waste, so after vegging out for an hour I decided to treat myself to a gastropub in downtown Long Beach called Congregation Alehouse.  I’d been eyeing the place with a lust for tasty on tap beer for a couple weeks now.  A hat for the unfortunate hairnet-styled do and kitten heels sent me on my way.

With guests and everything going on, it had been way too long since I went for a ride.  My poor mixte cried for a trip outside the garage so off we went!  Rose was super eager to show off and she collected many stares and several compliments.  I haven’t yet seen a mixte in Long Beach, so perhaps she is a bit unique.  I haven’t decided if it’s her frame or color that sets her apart.

While I locked her up outside the pub, a man around my age walked by without stopping and said, “I like your bike, it’s actually kind of hot.”  I barely had time to say thank you before he disappeared.  Gotta love genuine walk-by compliments!

A bar like this is a decent place to sit by yourself because everyone around you is social.  However, this particular night out was about me, not making friends.  I ordered my food, grabbed my drink and sat at a small two person table by the large open patio facing Rose.  I think she winked at me.

Now, taking yourself out on a date can seem awkward or scary in concept.  If you are thinking, “never me!” then I would suggest taking small steps.  Perhaps make a cup of coffee and read a book outside in a peaceful place.  

Move to a coffee shop and repeat.  The only person that cares you’re alone is you!  In fact, - if your goal is to make friends in a new place - going alone makes you seem more open and easier to approach.  Similarly, it will be easier for you to chat with someone new without worrying about abandoning your friend.

Back to the pub: I should have taken a picture of my ribeye burger.  It was simply fantastic, tender as anything and super juicy.  I sipped on Sierra Nevada’s Home Grown IPA and read the first chapter of The Stranger (mostly because it was the only book thin enough for my biking purse).  The evening was very pleasant and my date was superb.  Working up the courage to eat by yourself may take some time, but the rewards - casual, relaxing night at your favorite place - can be worth it many times over.

As for Rose, she and I got hollered at again on the ride back.  A few ladies leaned out their car and shouted across the street, “Get it girl!  Love those heels with the bike!”  Score one point for the Cycle Chic movement!  I hope they feel inspired to ride a bicycle in their normal clothes one day too.

 It was a great night, indeed.