My girl bike

This past July I got a new bike. I got it for free. A friend of a friend had this bike languishing in her storage and simply wanted to get rid of it. Deb had recently got a new (used) bike and I was in need of one of my own. My old bike was on its last legs—or last spokes, I guess. It still worked but when you stopped pedaling, the pedals kept turning, which is as unsafe as it is disconcerting, but potential good comedy.

I hadn’t actually biked in nearly two years. Following my prostate surgery, the prospect of balancing the entirety of my upper weight on that seat area was not something that appealed to me, so I stuck to walking last summer. This year, though, I was fully fixed and fit and ready to get back in the bike saddle again.

So free bike? Yes, please!

It turned out to be a vintage Peugeot Super Sport, made in Canada, from the late 70s or early 80s, a bit of rust but in otherwise solid shape. The gears had been updated, and the brakes and tires looked practically new. It rode like a dream.

It was also a woman’s bike.

So what makes it a lady bike? Well, you know, the crossbar: it’s not across. It droops. It makes a V. Like for skirt space…

I honestly didn’t care, but just to be sure there wasn’t a difference between men’s and women’s bikes beyond the angle of the crossbar, I texted my eldest daughter, who is something of a bike pro.

“There’s no reason a man can’t ride a woman’s bike, right? Like structurally or balance?”

“Nope,” Emily replied, “makes no difference!”

“Do they still even make ‘women’s’ bikes?

“No, you’d just call that a step through frame”

“Old-person bike”

“Sure! Protect them hips”

Crossbar, no crossbar, a bike is a bike. It’s about as gender-neutral as you can get, just simple human-powered transport. I’m enlightened enough to appreciate that.

So I’ve been riding it around town. Stanstead is a pretty good biking community. There’s not a lot of traffic, there’s a decent bike trail, and the town just built a shelter with a bike repair station right beside the town hall. Mind you it’s easily a full kilometre away from any bike trail access, but that’s a story of bonehead municipal planning for another time.

I really like my bike. But every time I get on, a little voice whispers, “Gi-i-i-irl bi-i-i-ike…”

Not a single person has come up to me and said, “Dude: that’s a girl’s bike.” Maybe I need to be around more 12-year-old boys, because I think they’d be the only demographic brazen enough to say something that ignorant. Or perhaps a Trumper.

But maybe everyone else is thinking it. Hey, just because I’m enlightened doesn’t mean I’m not paranoid.

I turn 55 next month. Mentally, that’s well into “set in his ways” territory. (Physically, everything else is either unset or downright wobbly. For instance, I have major dental work ahead of me, and that depresses me; heavy is the head that needs a crown.)

And yet I like to think I’m still able to accept new ideas and expand the narrow views I came of age with (the 80s; don’t get me started).

It was not that many years ago, for example, that daughter Emily schooled me in the idea of gender fluidity. My initial reaction was essentially, “No. Wait, what?” My instinct was to resist the idea that people could be both male or female or neither because I was taught only the binary code of boy/girl, dog/cat.

After a while, though, I understood and appreciated it, mostly because I learned more about it, but also because I realized the concept did no harm to my life! Someone’s gender identity does not take away from how I or anyone else see themselves.

Similarly, the type of bike I ride—men’s, women’s, step-through, penny-farthing—has no effect on anyone around me. No one likely cares because a) they have better things to do or b) they too have evolved their thinking over time, most likely on more important stuff than bike frames. So there’s hope for those theoretical 12-year-old boys. Trumpers, probably not.

And so I will continue to ignore that little whisper, and I will happily ride my free bike. Did I mention it was free?

Besides, if anyone is thinking anything at all when they see me, it’s probably about my dorky helmet.

About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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26 Responses to My girl bike

  1. kirizar says:

    Congrats on hopping onto the more comfortable for the tush seat. I never understood how a guy could sit on one of those really narrow seats with little to no padding. And why would any man want a metal bar for his dangly bits to smash into the first time he slipped off his narrow-ass seat? Welcome to the, ahem, sisterhood of good choices.

    And totally, I would ride a free bike over anything I had to shell thousands of dollars for.

  2. Heya! As always it was a pleasure to read your story. And an important concern that you raised – dorky helmet.

    Okay, I was trying to mimic you! So, your birthday is coming – happy birthday (in advance) and keep ignoring that whisper.

  3. Well I have a boy bike. With a cross bar in a place where I don’t expect a cross bar to be in. So when I mount my bike I have to be of a particularly flexible mood in order to lift my leg practically over my head in order to position my body centrally over the seat…

    Anyway. I have a boy bike.

  4. Heavy is the head that needs a crown. Really. You maybe used to ride without a helmet?
    Well you redeemed yourself by throwing penny-farthing in there, cheers.
    I’ve considered many models of bicycles, and favor the “recumbents” above all others. A very low profile, almost invisible to cars, and in Milwaukee, they can often be obtained cheaply, from the next-of-kin. They have excellent stands, so you can park on the porch and read comfortably, and when inside, they support twice as many shirts and jackets as a regular bike. It “places the rider in a laid-back reclining position,” what else do you have to know, that practically defines me. It’ll have to do, until our society comes to its senses, and brings back sedan chairs.

  5. Fully fixed and fit. Good to hear.

  6. Prior... says:

    I learned here –
    About the step through reference name for
    This kind of bike.
    And you are so right that nobody is likely
    Noticing but 12 year old Would maybe tease (oh those brutal younger years)

    And the bike Looks like it is a orlasure to ride and all the health benefits

  7. Prior... says:

    Heavy is the head that “needs” a crown

  8. Love to hear your thought process. Cool bike!

  9. beth says:

    fun to read about your ‘evolution’ and self/bike acceptance. p.s. why is the bar on a boy’s bike in the first place?

  10. cat9984 says:

    I’m pretty sure most people are either ignoring you or swearing at you to get out of their way. Btw, if you have see a non-binary cat/dog, would you send me a picture? My cat’s don’t believe it.

  11. List of X says:

    I’m sure that Trumpers (or whatever the Canadian for “Trumper” is) are the only ones who care if a guy is riding a girl’s bike – but to them, any bicycle or even a car that doesn’t produce its weight in CO2 on a 10 mile trip is just some kind of ridiculous and stupid liberal snowflakemobile.

  12. Speaking as a man with arthritis a step through bike is a God send. Although My childhood won’t let me put on the dorky helmet just yet.

    Laugh On

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