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Just My Bike and Me by Nicolette Norris

Nicolette at Bikestation Image: Bernard Serrano of Cyclone Coaster

They say that knowing how things work is the basis for appreciation, and that therefore, you need to understand something in order to appreciate it. It wasn’t until I was a sixteen-year-old being driven into Belmont Shore, that I truly recognized the meaning of this saying. I was already impatient with an eagerness to ride my bike. Of course, I didn't actually own the bike yet; I was on my way to Jones Bicycles to purchase it. This bike, however, might as well have been mine already. I had entered the shop at least three times preceding this day just to stare at the vehicle I so strongly desired, each time finding a new feature to fall in love with. But today was the day that I didn't have to walk out of the shop empty-handed.

I felt my heart race as I viewed the storefront and couldn’t even wait for the car to park before I hopped out. I entered the shop and tried to make the transaction as quickly as possible, and I finally held the bike in my hands, admiring the beauty and comprehending the fact that it belonged to me. Then the salesman asked if I had ridden a bike like this before. This bike, a single-speed draft, was one that I had never actually ridden. I had been used to beach cruisers, but I was naive and assumed that all bikes rode the same way, so I confidently responded that I had, despite the fact that I hadn't. However, I must not have been very convincing because the salesman smiled and suggested that I take it for a test spin.

From the moment that I tossed my right leg over the bike, I could tell that it was going to be difficult, and the clatter of fallen racks in the store was all the proof I needed. It moved a lot faster than I was used to, and the seat was definitely a lot higher than the average beach cruiser, which forced me to bend down to reach the handlebars. But I am the type who enjoys a challenge, so I went through with the purchase anyway, refusing to let anything get in the way of my bike and me (even the fact that I could hardly ride it). To anyone else, this might have been foolish, but that eagerness took hold of me, and before I knew it, I was leaving the bike shop’s scent of metal and elbow grease with handlebars in hands.

Since I was dropped off and assumed that it would be an easy trip, I intended on riding the bike home. But as it turned out, the journey was anything but easy. With each stoplight, I nearly flung myself over the handlebars from braking too hard, and at the time, I wasn’t used to riding a bike so tall. Still, conscious of the danger I was facing and the law I was breaking, I continued to ride my bike through the congested sidewalks of Belmont Shore, hearing indistinct conversations (and sometimes, angry pedestrians) as I passed. My annoyance had been building up since the moment I sat on the bike seat, and not even four blocks in, I just wanted to run these people over.

Then as I reached the quiet residential streets, my mood changed completely. Without pedestrians in my way, all anxiety disappeared, and at this point, it was just my bike and me, cruising the streets of Long Beach. Yes, I was still a bit of an amateur at braking and adjusting to the bike‘s size, but I had about thirty blocks to perfect the skill. By the time I made it home, I had the confidence of a pro and, at some point, began to ride in the streets (which are actually much easier to ride on than the sidewalk, I learned).

What started as a dream gone wrong turned into a learning experience. Ever since that summer day, I've been in love with my single-speed draft, and just as the quote suggested, I truly appreciated it after learning how it worked. Two years later, the bike is still holding strong, and not a day goes by that I regret my purchase. Nothing, not even inexperience, gets in the way of my bike and me. And that's something learned the day I bought it.

About Nicolette Norris

Nicolette Norris is currently a senior at Renaissance High School for the Arts. She has a passion for journalism and is currently the editor-in-chief of her school newspaper. Nicolette enjoys hanging out with her friends in her spare time and, of course, riding her bike. She will be attending California State University, Long Beach in the fall and intends on majoring in Communications.

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