Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bike bills

I don't know how to ride a bike that only has one pedal because I didn't grow up in the circus.


Really, losing a pedal on your bike is an ailment that cannot be overcome.

It's not like losing a bike seat, where you can just stand-pedal until you reach your destination.

Or "losing" the knee pads, elbow pads, helmet AND variety of reflective orange gear your mom bought you, because you can just put tasteful reflective lights on the back and front and still be safe.

But a pedal falling off?? (Cue cartoon music: Wah wah wah.)

Of course, this freak show of a bike malfunction happened to me during the week of Mardi Gras and for ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD REASON. (Well, aside from the fact that my bike is from KMart and I had probably exhausted it's five-ride limit.)

But there I was, minding my own business, riding 2.1 miles to my friend's house to watch a Mardi Gras parade, when PLOP.
The pedal fell off, mid-ride.

I didn't notice until my foot went down and felt nothing (like the top of the stairs when you think there's another step and there's NOT), and I freaked out and wobbled the bike to the side of the road to investigate.

Conclusion: The pedal fell off??? I noticed in amazement just a silver arm on the left side of my bicycle. No pedal. I looked around frantically. It was lying in the middle of the street 20 yards away.

The timing wasn't good.

Of the entire 2.1 mile-route, the pedal decided to come off as I was biking under an overpass, with its loud echo-y VROOM VROOM VROOMS of engines stopping and going from all directions, stressing me out.

(Those of you familiar with New Orleans, this was conveniently at the corner of Poydras and Claiborne.)

It was also dark outside and eerie under the overpass. Everything was tinged with cheap orange street lighting, the kind they use for security at department stores overnight.

Also, this was an intersection that has numerous homeless people holding signs hoping for some change.

Thirdly, I was halfway through a screwdriver in a plastic to-go thermos, and fourthly, I'm no mechanic.

I scrambled to grab my bike pedal from the dark street during a red light so it wouldn't get rolled over while keeping an eye on my bike so someone wouldn't take it in my awkward dash.

I then sat on the curb trying to screw the pedal back into the hole while drivers stared at me like I was a one-legged dog. I screwed and screwed that pedal, sweating profusely, but it wouldn't catch.

"You need some help?" a homeless man (well, a man holding a sign declaring he was homeless) asked me. He startled me so bad I yelped.

"Oh, well, my pedal fell off…" I trailed off, clutching my screwdriver (drink) tighter.

(Perhaps I should have had an actual screwdriver….)

As the homeless guy was inspecting it, two more homeless men came over and offered assistance. I was overwhelmed.

They each tried to do exactly what I was doing, screwing the pedal back in, but the threads were worn down completely and they all quickly gave up.

"Giving up after 30 seconds??That's no way to go through life, son!" I laughed in my head, but then thought about the irony.

Of course, before going back to their posts at the corners, they all asked me for money, and I gave EACH of them a dollar because they did offer to help me, and I was out of my element (Donnie) under the overpass.

Maybe $3 would buy me some protection.

I tried a few more minutes to rig up the pedal (maybe I could shove it in upside down!?) but…no. I had no choice but to walk my bike the remaining mile to my friend's house.

Walking a bike is the most annoying stroll you'll ever take. First, it's embarrassing and people look at you from their cars wondering why you're escorting something you should be riding. (That's what she said?)

And you have to walk it on the sidewalk, annoying other pedestrians, and all you want to do is ride it because it’s RIGHT NEXT TO YOU. It didn’t help that someone who passed me on a bike rang his little bell, just to taunt me.

When I finally got to my friend’s house, I dragged the dead weight up the stairs into her living room, then called the bike a useless piece of tin and pretended to kick it. And then I forgot about it.

Thankfully, my dad brought the beach cruiser back to life this week, when he fetched it with his SUV and brought it to a bike place to get fixed.

The guy at the bike shop couldn’t say exactly why the pedal fell off, only that you can’t just replace one pedal, you have to redo the whole pedal SYSTEM, and after a few wrong-sized pedals ordered (Kmart bikes aren’t universal?? Well, I never!), he finally found one with a good fit.

And now I’m out a whole bunch of dollars.


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