I was given a bike when I moved to Japan. It's a hand-me-down that goes from teacher to teacher and was purchased by my real-life friend H when she taught in Shizuoka years ago. As you can see from the picture above, she is terribly cute. It's totally the basket...the equivalent of putting a ribbon on a baby's single tuffet of hair. Unnecessary but helps round out the look.
I couldn't use her at first. Goodness knows I tried. The bike lock wouldn't snap open and I tried muscles I didn't know I had. Many people tried...and failed.
My new colleague speaks Japanese fluently. She was provided with the alternative hand-me-down bike that is bright pink and has a functional lock. Seeing her ride to school when I walk drove me crazy with jealousy. Especially as we live in the same building and she could leave later for work than I did. I also got rained on longer. It's not pleasant. However, this new colleague decided to take the bike to the bike shop and get my lock replaced. For eighteen bucks, I am now able to ride to school...like I did when I was in year 8. It's been THAT long. Half my lifetime ago.
Here's the tweet that graced my first ride on Gertie - I am what I like to consider 'spatially challenged'. I can fall over nothing. I fall over often. I once believed that I may have a vision problem and while I do have glasses now, the diagnosis has no link to my struggle to keep upright. And that fall I speak of in the tweet? It was in front of witnesses, many witnesses. I am officially that 'crazy foreigner' that every town seems to have.
Since having Gertie for the past few days I have fallen back in love with bike riding...despite the constant abrasions I seem to be earning. I was grinning like a loon the first few times, enjoying the wind in my hair and the slippery whirring sound of the tyres running over bitumen. It is such a simple pleasure and I am so glad I have re-discovered it.
However...despite the layering I have on my hide, the seat hurts. You'd think there would be a benefit of being not skinny but no, I apparently still have a bony arse. Sigh. Or perhaps the seat is too high or something? Being the paranoid type, I am also terrified that I will get hit. There are many blind corners in the side streets of Shizuoka and I am worried driving, let alone riding a bike. And they don't wear helmets here. So I don't either. That in itself is a weird sensation as it's the law in Australia.
Regardless, I shall cherish my Gertie while I can. Just don't ask where I got that name from. I have no idea but it suits her, doesn't it?