I named my first bike Wanda because I thought we would spend years “wanda-ing” around together. We’re all wrong sometimes, right? I bought Wanda right after I moved to Chicago, and I was more than a little nervous about riding alongside “late-for-a-date singles”, “pressed for time business executives”, and “every-minute-counts cabbies.”
I figured I would risk being one of those people that everyone hates, and simply ride on the sidewalk. Next to the pedestrians. Well well well. That was my first mistake. Sure enough, just two weeks after riding Wanda I ran smack-dab into a hand-holding couple as they were exiting a restaurant. I actually only crashed into the girl, but it felt like I had hit them both when her boyfriend started yelling about the importance of riding in the street.
Lesson learned & point taken.
Wanda and I began biking alongside the multitude of drivers in Chicago. We were nervous, sure, but I also figured that we would be pros before long. Everything seems tricky until it’s easy, right? Besides, I made a solemn vow that I would never make another person sprawl out along the sidewalk. I had to commit myself to the city streets.
Can you guess what happened on day 3?
That’s right. Wanda and I got hit by a car. We were crossing the street when a car blew through a stop sign: Wanda went left and I went right.
Two days later Wanda was stolen in the night during a particularly noisy Chicago rainstorm. I didn’t look for her. I figured it must be a sign. From that point on, I relied on my two feet and the bus for all transportation purposes.
I met Jon two years later, and he took me bike riding around Lake Michigan on one of our first dates. He loved riding, and he told me dozens of stories about how his bike had gotten him to every class at Madison for 5 years. I rented an old beach hopper, and slowly told him the story of Wanda. A couple weeks later, we went to the bike shop and he picked out a new bike for me. He told me it was time for a new beginning.
I’m happy to say I’ve been accident-free for 3 years now, and I’m learning the rules of biking on the road. Luckily, Minneapolis is an extremely bike-friendly city, and there are dozens of trails and paths (even in the downtown) specifically for people riding two wheels.
Anyway! That was just a long story about what I was thinking during the rah rah rah experiment today. For my project, I decided to make custom water bottle labels and then place them on bicycles around the city. Maybe this was my small way of making amends for all the trouble I’ve caused on my bike over the years.