Thursday, June 2, 2011

Natalie Says...

Natalie giving cycling a thumbs up!

 "i lost track a long while ago of how many days i have ridden my bike to work, so i feel a bit badly that this is my first contribution to girl commute. especially since i consider myself something of an everywoman bike rider: i am not superlative in any respect. other than my helmet, bike, and bike shorts, i don't have what you would call "biking gear." i don't ride particularly fast, though i do enjoy speeding down hills. after getting used to riding in traffic on greenstreet's ladies ride, i graduated to commuting. the ride takes between 25 and 30 minutes, depending on how many red lights i hit.
i live in the 50s between center and leavenworth. now i am as wary as anyone about traffic, but i've found that it's easiest and least hilly just bombing leavenworth to 19th, making the rest of the way on harney, and from there down to riverfront drive to my office. usually the ride is incident-free, however, today was a little different.
at the stoplight at 42nd street, a silver car pulled up next to me in the left lane, with the window down. "miss!" the driver called to me, and i turned to see a smiling gentleman giving me a huge thumbs up and nodding his head. i replied with a chirpy "good morning!" and the light changed. a nice positive interaction particularly brightened my morning (the intent was niceness, not a catcall sort of thing.)
which brings me to a brief digression. i told sarah once before that the only real commentary i had come up with to contribute to girl commute beyond the usual gripes about potholes is this: i have not heard one decent catcall since i have lived in omaha. now that it's warmer out and there are more pedestrians out/car windows down, attempts have been increasing. typically this consists of a whistle or "baby," which are little match for gems i've heard in the past such as "girl, i like your walk," or "girl, i like your eyes, are those your real eyes?" (a friend got that one). granted, when biking, i am passing by at a speed that leaves little time to for such phrases, but you would think that there would be something. maybe a bike related pun? i have no idea what, but i am a great believer in human creativity. get to work, catcallers of omaha.
but back to the ride this morning: positive interaction, nice weather, feeling good. dispite having not ridden for about a week, hills were coming easily. and then: a got a flat tire.
this was my first flat tire. and i'm a little surprised it didn't happen sooner given the multitude of sharp debris i roll over every day. but i knew the lucky streak would end eventually, so i bought a handy dandy patch kit a while ago, which has been dutifully riding along under my seat, waiting for just such an opportunity to be used. flat tire is pretty basic bike knowledge, but not having done it before, the prospect was intimidating. though i had been to a bike maintenance clinic during the winter, how much did i really know or remember? i pulled up the bus stop bench on the corner of park and leavenworth to put myself to the test.
found the hole pretty easily, managed to get the back wheel off eventually, and did some serious tire wrangling. i wasted the first canister of compressed air, puncturing it with the little filler device, but not decisively enough, and it spit all over the place. it was slow going, but i made steady progress, and the feeling of accomplishment i had when i finally finished was awesome. i think i'll recall this not as the time i got my first flat tire, but the time i fixed my first flat tire. it only took me an embarrassingly long 35 minutes. i continued on my ride, feeling pretty badass.
and lo and behold, at the stop light on 24th and leavenworth, who should be heading past on 24th? none other than thumbs-up guy in the silver car. he slowed down a little and called out "we've got to stop meeting like this!"
Thanks for the great story Natalie!!!  Keep pedaling girly.  You're a great addition to the cycling community of Omaha!  If you have a fun commuting story, send it to me!