The light changed, and as I cast off across the intersection, my ass was aware of every bumpy tread on the thick tires that had been designed for rugged terrain. I could feel the expression of horror and fear on my face each time a car passed. I would think, this is the one that will hit us , and then for a moment I would live the tragedy in my mind, all the way to the hospital in my imaginary ambulance.
We made it to the path in Balboa Park by way of the zoo's parking lot. Because it was Wednesday, there were few people around whom we had to navigate. We rode past the fountain, past museums, and past bright flowers, the smell of which rode the wind to my nostrils, causing me to breathe deeper and smile at the air itself. As we pedaled our way over the Laurel Street Bridge, I delighted in the sensation of gliding by pedestrians, moving fast enough to keep a steady breeze on my face but slowly enough to appreciate the patches of color -- blue sky, green grass, yellow daffodils, and pink cherry blossoms, the palette of spring.
I insisted, by waving one arm wildly, that David ride behind me as we embarked on the most treacherous part of our journey, Sixth Avenue. No bike lane, a few blind spots, and, in my experience, many distracted drivers -- it was the perfect formula for my demise. David had mastered the skill of looking over his shoulder while riding; he would be able to warn me if I needed to move one way or the other.
To my surprise and relief, we made it home without incident (if you don't count the old friend I ran into who did, in fact, see my questionable outfit).
"See? That wasn't so bad," David said. I was busy cursing at the stupid cable he had handed me to lock up my bike. It just wasn't cooperating.
"This lock is fucking annoying," I snapped. But then I finally wrangled it in to place, stood up to face my optimistic biker buddy, and took a deep breath. "No, it wasn't so bad," I said. "A little scary at times, but I bet I'll get the hang of it in time for Europe." David was all dimples and smiles. He reached for my hand and held it in his as we traveled up the elevator and down the hall until I needed it back to unlock our door.