PART I – TOWNIE TEST RIDE
On a long weekend visit to my daughter’s home in the California foothills, I shared an entry from my bucket list.
“I’m not getting any younger,” I told Kristen. I’ve made up my mind. I’m getting a bike.”
“You should get a Townie,” she said. She tapped her phone screen a couple of times. Up popped the grooviest turquoise colored two-wheeler I had ever seen. I knew I had to have it.
As soon as I got home, I headed for the local REI. I tugged at the towering doors. All manner of sports and outdoor accouterments lay out before me. Suspended over the camping tents hung bikes of all sizes and colors above others lined up on the floor. Sure enough, the Townies were overhead.
“Need some help?” I turned to the sales associate who had sneaked up behind me.
Geez! Is she even out of middle school? Hello? Child labor laws.
“I’m interested in an Electra Townie,” I said, pointing up. “I like the teal one.”
She reached for the tag swaying in the air. “This one’s a 21D. It has 21 gear combinations, and…”
Seriously? 21? What kind of terrain must one be traversing to utilize 21 effing gears?
“Oh, uh, no. I want the one with seven gears. Which ones are those?”
“OK, sure. The 7D.” She read a couple of other tags. “Looks like we only have that in off white or raspberry. We could order it in teal and have it for you in about three weeks.”
No way was I going to allow myself a 21-day waiting period. I needed to pull the trigger on this buy before I had time to talk myself out of it.
“Off white’s fine.”
Punky called Peppermint Patty over to help her lower the bike to the sales floor, and rolled it towards me. I took a step back. Crap, not so close.
Cue the Paramedics
“You can take it for a test ride out back in the employee parking lot.”
Test ride?! Seriously? I wasn’t even sure I could operate the brakes. It would be just my luck to wipe out before leaving the premises. I hoped the sheer terror didn’t show on my face.
I struggled to suppress the panic rising in my chest, and forced a weak smile.
Punky shook her little pigtails. “Don’t worry, there’s plenty of room in the lot.”
Yeah, plenty of room for the paramedics to gather my crumpled body and lift it into the ambulance.
She motioned me to follow her to the counter at the back of the store. She disappeared into a storage closet and emerged carrying a helmet.
Cue the Personal Injury Lawyers
“Let’s get this secured, then I’ll have you sign the waiver.”
Of course. The waiver. “…not held responsible should aging boomer babe, in pathetic attempt to recapture her glory days, require life-saving measures on the premises.
I dug my readers out of my purse, read the fine print (isn’t it all fine print nowadays?) and signed. Then I steered that Townie out through those heavy damn doors. The sun nearly blinded me. I guided it alongside me to the back of the store. Once in the privacy of the employee lot, I hoisted my petard onto the seat, gripped the handle bars, pumped the brake levers a couple of times, then pushed off.
After a wobbly start I steadied myself and took a moment to savor the rush of wind on my face for the first time in this century. I pedaled a couple of loops around the lot, then lurched to a stop. Damn hand brakes.
No broken bones or scuffed tires. Not bad for a something-genarian.
I led my new friend back through the store to finalize the purchase. In addition to the bike, I got a car rack for hauling her to the local paved trail. Punky rang up the purchases, then summoned Crocodile Dundee to demonstrate how to install the bike rack. Rugged, tan, dressed in khaki and camouflage, he followed Townie and me out to my car, the bike rack slung over his shoulder like his latest jungle conquest.
After watching while he cinched belts and secured my precious cargo onto the rack, I waved a thank you and headed home with my shiny new toy.
Will our reluctant cycler venture out of the parking lot and onto the trail? Will her first ride lead her straight to the emergency room? Stay tuned for Part II – Out on the Townie