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Bikexchange.com Column #9

Fish Bike/Gone Riding

By Gianna Bellofatto

Ms. Bellofatto is a freelance writer and avid cyclist who whose column, Life Is a Bike, appears regularly in The Bicycle Exchange.

A feminist wrote, "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."  The Life is a Bike view is a woman without a bicycle is like a fish without water. Whichever way, the fish can go jump in the lake, and I'll take the bike, thank you.

As a mainstream woman, I do the food shopping, housecleaning, cooking, laundry, and maintain full-time employment. When I entertain, I barely have time to steal a glimpse in the mirror to fix my appearance before guests arrive. My goodness, I don't need a bike, I need a life.  But I still wince when I recall a friend’s remark: “Sure, I see women on bicycles, but never a lady.”

This very logic brings me to where I want to ride but won’t because company is visiting tonight.   The weather is superb and the sky is soft blue. Just now I hear birds beckoning me to play. That does it. I'm going riding.

I ease onto my bike and glide toward the direction of an isolated reservoir. I'm free!  There's a warm breeze of a tailwind that gives me a boost. Flexing on and off the brakes I take a graceful descent yet with exceptional speed. This is my fantasy and I'm going to live it. We women can have it all. Our careers, entertain, and our cycling. Then IT happened.  Sput…sput…put…flat.

I park along the roadside of the lonely reservoir under pressure to return to my Ms. Homemaker role. In a distance, I spy two male cyclists headed in my direction. Maybe they’ll assist. Their pace slows at the approach. It’s times like this when I hate being a woman.

“Looks like you have a flat tire there.”

“Yes, I sure do. But I’m not fish who doesn’t need a bicycle, or however that saying goes,” I nervously ramble.  They stare at me in confusion. “Or a woman that doesn’t require water.”

“Yeah lady, whatever.”  They sped away.

I began removing the rear wheel when an elderly male cyclist came into view. He stopped and parked his bike. “Need a hand, young lady?” Gosh, it’s time like this that I love being a woman.

“Could you help me change my tire?” I said in my best damsel-in-distress voice.

The kindly gent changed the tube and pumped the tire quickly. In about fifteen minutes I was back on the bike and flying home. Then the feminine mistake surfaced.  It is the figurative flat women impose on themselves.  This was my entire fault. I'm not a good cyclist, and I went. The self-incrimination traveled from my soul to each of my lead-like legs.

Sure, I see women on bicycles, but never a lady. The echoing words made me furious. There's nothing wrong with a woman riding a bicycle. Accepting any false premise is analogous to a cyclist riding with a flat. Biker or not, no one gets anywhere with a real or self-imposed gimp. I arrive home more than two hours before my guests.  I’m happy to report that the dinner went well and I basked in compliments.

When we’re young we dream of what we’ll be when we’re grown.  When we’re grown we think about what people expect us to be. But some of us think about our life reincarnate. Will I return as a perennial flower, a bird, bike, or fish?  Heck, I just want to return from my bike rides.  Until next time…gone riding.

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