Ok, listen up because I am about to tell you something I will never admit to in person- I am not very good at biking. Sure I can putter around the neighborhood and even take a hand off the handlebars, if only briefly, but aside that my skills are limited. Put me going up a hill in traffic and you’ll get something more like an asthmatic walrus trying to run up Everest. Maybe not that bad but still, needs work.
I like to blame this on the altitude, but that is really only part of it. I also have trouble with narrow spaces, sort of. See if it is going between a car and a tree I will probably be ok (although in traffic I am very afraid of taking off someone’s rear view mirror), but if it is between a street vendor and a person I will almost magnetically veer towards the person. It doesn’t help that the bikes lanes here, when they exist, are on the sidewalk, and that people seem to think they own the place. So do the taxis, which will come to as sudden a stop as possible and honk at you whenever you have to cross side streets or they want to turn.
I also have various other inane handicaps: I can only kind of stand up to pedal and I always need to start with my right foot on the pedal, preferably pushing. This leads to lots of fumbling around at traffic lights and bruises all over my shins. But they are bruises of glory. I will conquer my bike and the mean streets of Bogota.
We got our bikes about a week ago along Jimenez, where there are lots of bike dealers with everything along and in-between big delivery bikes, kid’s spiderman bikes, tandem bikes, and whatever your imagination can weld. We opted for the cheapest single-speed bikes and shortly outfitted them with locks and lights, and ourselves with helmets. The lights are actually pretty cool; they attach to your break so they go on when you break, and they also have turn signals and various horn noises (although I forget about them, and end up making honking noises at people since that seems more attention-getting than yelling). Manu’s had some difficulties with her bike—pedal falling off, poor welding job that snapped a chain, finicky breaks—but nothing our local bike guy can’t fix and all seems to be going well for both now.
We did a fair amount of biking about yesterday and got all sorts of tired out. Walking over the pedestrian bridges even became an ordeal (if there is a particularly beastly intersection or you just don’t want to use the road there are big metal people bridges). I did remember to put sunscreen on, since Portland pallor replaced what was once a nice Caribbean bronze, but not thinking I didn’t put any on the tops of my hands and now have my very own lobster claws. Just one more hurdle in my quest to beat Manu up a hill.