the girls

Posted: June 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

Every morning for the last month, when I get into work, I get the disappointed look from the very nice guy who cleans my office.  “No bike, again?”  I know.  I’m even more disappointed than he is!  He likes checking out my bikes and talking about all of that when he comes in to vacuum and take my trash away.

Dude.  Bike season is in full bloom, but the business of work and moving and all manner of other things has kept me from riding much.  I am hankering for a good, long ride.  Craving the open bike trail and the breeze and no need to think much at all…just push the pedal, push the pedal, push the pedal and feel my muscles moving.

I plan to ride the Chicago Critical Mass in late June; today, as I did lunch with the friend who gave me Wilma, she inquired which of the girls I’d be taking for that mass.  Oh, it is definitely Wilma’s turn!  Lulu has already had the pleasure so many times.  I definitely want to do this one with Wilma.

Which brings me to:  I thought it might be fun for y’all to get to know the girls better, just in case you’re one of those who don’t know what I’m talking about when I start throwing around Lulu’s and Wilma’s names.

Start with:  most of my life I haven’t had a bike.  I had one when I was really little, but then we moved to the country and I got a pony, and then horses, and had absolutely zero interest in riding a BIKE when I could be in a SADDLE.

My parents got me a 12-speed for high school graduation, and I took it to college and rode a little while (even got a baby seat for the back and pedaled Julia around Monmouth in it for a time), but the first time the chain came off, knowing no one who fixed such things and having no funds to pay for it, I just quit riding.

When Caleb was a baby, on impulse I bought a retro bike that I came across in downtown Aledo one summer day during sidewalk sales.  I got another baby seat and he too got pedaled for awhile.  But I kept the bike outside, so soon enough it rusted out and that was the end of that.

Lulu was an “empty nest” gift to myself.  I had moved to Rock Island to be nearer to my then-new job.  I had started walking a bit, trying to get in shape, and I knew there was a bike path along the river.  It seemed like a nice way to exercise.  My plan was to go to Target, find the cheapest, most stripped-down bike they had, and that would be enough.

And I did LOOK at the cheapest, most stripped-down bike they had.  But not far from that bike was:  Lulu.  I knew her name because it was painted on her side.

one of my favorite pictures of her – ain’t she a hot little number?

I had to have her.  She cost fully a hundred dollars more than the cheap bike (and that was/is a lot of money in my world.)  There wasn’t a reason in the world I had to have her, except that she had a nice wide, fat seat and nice wide, old-fashioned handlebars and that completely irresistible pink and white paint job.  I kept trying to walk away from her, and then longing would fill me, my heart would pound and back I’d go to fawn over her one more time.  Finally, I just went ahead and bought her, emptying out my checking account 10 days before payday to do it.  I had no bike rack – just opened the trunk of my Taurus, shoved her in as gently as I could with her front wheel hanging out, and used some plastic shopping bags to tie the trunk shut around her.

Lulu is a Schwinn, which my bike guy assures me is not as good of news as it used to be.  He pretty much considers her a cheap piece of crap, and he’s probably right, but she’s SO UNBEARABLY CUTE!

If Lulu were a person she would have giant, teased blonde hair and false eyelashes.  She would wear mini skirts and high heels and walk along jiggling in all the right places.  She would talk in a pay-attention-to-me-boyz kind of voice.  She’d be the girl all the wild boys are trying to score with.

Lulu is fun to ride because she turns heads everywhere we go.  She’s clunky and heavy, and she only has 7 speeds, and she’s got old fashioned fat tires, all of which makes her not much of a hill climber or speedster.  She’s not about performance.  She’s about the show.

I think it’s okay to love her for that reason.  She was all the bike I had for a couple of years, and she was enough when I started out, being so far out of shape.  When I went to JPUSA, she went with me and we had a ball, tooling up and down the lakefront bike path.  I didn’t really ride her on the streets (other than at Critical Mass rides) until after I moved back to Rock Island.  Before that, when I lived in Rock Island I hoisted her onto my car’s bike rack and drove her down to the bike path each time…and when I lived in Chicago I carefully pushed her along the sidewalk the 2-ish blocks to the lake before I got on.

After I moved back to Rock Island, an old friend from high school who was and is a faithful reader of my blogs mentioned to me that she had a bike I might like -she couldn’t bring herself to ride it anymore, having had a rather spectacular accident on it involving a St Bernard running at top speed and a gravel road (oh, the horror!) We talked a bit about it, and then before I knew it, she dropped the bike off at the front desk where I work one day.  I went down on an errand and there it was,  and the lady at the desk said it was for ME!  I was stunned and tickled.  I pushed it down the hall and took it on the elevator and down more halls to my apartment (I was still living at my workplace at the time) and that night I took my time and lovingly washed away the dust and dirt she had accumulated in the shed during her long period of rest.  I scheduled an appointment for her with my bike guy, who was, shall we say, very enthusiastic in his approval of this upgrade to my biking life.

This bike didn’t come with a name, but it felt wrong to me that Lulu should have a name and my other bike shouldn’t.  So after a couple of days of pondering, I came up with the name Wilma.  It’s nice and old-timey, like Lulu is, but sounds more practical and durable and hard working than the fluffy name Lulu, don’t you think?

Wilma is a Trek road bike.  She has skinnier, harder tires than Lulu and she is far lighter to pick up.  She is a performance machine, comparatively speaking.


If Wilma were a person, she’d wear khaki pants and durable shoes.  She’d wear her (natural color) hair in a pony tail, too no-nonsense to be bothered with anything else.  There would be no makeup and she wouldn’t have time to waste on the sport of flirting – Wilma is for sure a tomboy.  She is faster and tougher.  No, she doesn’t turn heads.  She just makes my ride easier with every push of the pedal.

I feel awfully blessed, having the 2 bikes.  I try to ride Lulu as my “work transportation.” After all, I have to ride slowly to work, in order to not get all sweaty and look terrible in the office.  And Lulu can absorb those miles and give Wilma a break.  Wilma is a rock star for hills and curves and the little bit of off-road biking I do out on Credit Island. 

Basically, I’m in love with them both. 

Makes me feel like a very rich woman.

Man, I gotta get back out there and ride…soon!

  1. laurie says:

    oh – I burst out laughing in parts of this at the gushing, the extravagant descriptions – thank you for the giggles – so needed today. Love the personality description of the bikes – oh my Karen you just bring life to life – love that so much about you as I always enjoy your words!

    Now go ride your bike ; )

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