Gonna party like it’s 1999

My rental bike is really heavy even though it is made from carbon. It comes with something called Shimano Tiagra. I’m too lazy to look it up but it looks, feels, and smells a lot like the 105 stuff. The wheels are heavy, too. If I were even barely on this side of tech I’d count the number of cogs, but why bother?

The bottom line is that this bike rides like it’s 1999, if not 1995, and man, have things gotten better since then. By better, I don’t mean “improved.” In fact, since the 1980’s things have gotten decidedly worse in the bike tech world, but that’s a whole other rant. “Better” means “lighter and faster.”

And since I normally ride a very light, fast bike to compensate for the fact that I am neither, being paired with a chunky, droopy, unresponsive, flaccid bike, one that matches me in those key characteristics, I can really appreciate how much technology has done to make dopey cheaters of us all.

How to ruin my vacation

Left to my own devices I am an excellent vacationer. I don’t lose shit. I eat simply. I get up early, go to bed early, argue with the ferryman over a lousy euro, and have no problem integrating German coursework with bike riding coursework.

When it comes to other people being on my vacation with me, I am not opposed to them in principle. In fact, I will go out of my way to buy them plane tickets, book them hotel rooms, feed them, and engage in conversation that I believe well simulates how normal humans behave.

Most of all, I make it clear that everyone is welcome to ride bicycles with me. Where shit starts to break down is when I am saddled with bicycling obligations and responsibilities other than my own. For example, finding a bike for you. There is nothing I hate worse than trying to procure stuff for myself except procuring it for other people, especially bicycles. This is part laziness, part selfishness, and all DGAFishness.

So when I told Yasuko that I would find her a bike (Vienna has endless bike rental shops), I lied, and I lied big.

Of all the things I was never in a billion years going to do, number one on the list was “find a bicycle for Yasuko.” And true to the lie, I didn’t.

After a couple of days she wondered where her bike was. “Where is my bike?”

“I don’t know.”

“You said you were going to get me one.”

“That’s true.”

“So what am I supposed to do?”

“Go get your own bike?”

“Where?”

“I don’t know. I looked on the Internet for a bit but no one has a size 48 cm rental bike.”

“No one?”

“Not in Vienna.”

Never say “no one”

I was in class yesterday when Yasuko sent me a text. “I found a shop with a 48 cm bike!”

“GO GET IT TODAY!” I texted back, screaming in all caps. It was already 5:30 and everywhere closes at 6:00. I wondered if that would be the last of that.

I got home from class and she was filling the water bottle to put in the cage on her rental bike.

“Wow!” I said. “You got it!”

“Yes,” she said proudly. “I found the shop and got a great deal on it, too.”

Suddenly I was overflowing with love. Something about the words “got a great deal” were romantic beyond belief. Some day you’ll understand.

A cool 80 km

The best thing about kilometers is they sound so much farther than miles. The next morning we got up, had coffee and bread, and went on our first ever Euro bike ride together down the Donau Bike Path, all the way to Tulln. I’m starting to learn that the earlier you leave the less wind you have to eat, and since we were going gradually uphill into a slight headwind, the 6:15 departure was perfect.

In Tulln we had coffee and turned our bikes towards home. If there is anything nicer than a 25-mile ride downhill with a gradually strengthening tailwind, please don’t tell me about it, because it’s either something I can’t afford, or it comes with jail time, or you are delusional.

We lugged the massively heavy bikes up the three flights of stairs, a workout in its own right, making me contemplate again how much bikes have changed. Too bad I haven’t.

END

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6 thoughts on “Gonna party like it’s 1999”

  1. That grin on Yasuko’s face must make that first ride really special!
    Rental bikes come with heavy tires and often heavy tubes. Your ride will improve 100% if you spring for nice tubes and even cheap-o lighter tires.
    How many Euro is a few great rides worth? How much is it worth to better hold the Hammer’s wheel?

    1. Thanks! We are all cyclists, it’s just that some of us haven’t gotten a bicycle yet … or learned to ride one!

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