The trails and tribulations of the lone cyclist by Samantha Bennett of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

“Once when I was coming home from vacation, I pulled up at the toll booth where you pay for parking your car at Pittsburgh International, fresh and relaxed from my trip, and the guy asked me if I wanted the handicapped rate.

“W-why?” I asked slowly.

“Well, I see you got that wheelchair in the back of the car. That is a wheelchair, right?”

“No,” I said, “It’s my bicycle.” And then I paid the outrageous full price for a week’s parking at the airport and thought, I am dumb as a box of hair. I could have said, “That’s right, mister: The Trek 24-speed wheelchair, complete with bottle cage and derailleur. How big a discount do I get, exactly?”

To be fair to Airport Parking Guy, it was dark, and the bike was in two pieces, the front wheel having been removed and stacked on top of the frame so I could fit it in my car.

As a professional writer, I am already anticipating the three questions you, the reader, have for me.

1: Why don’t you just get a bike rack?

Well, I had a bike rack, but I drive a hatchback with a very sloping back window, and the rack never fit securely onto the hypotenuse, as it were. The last thing in the world a cyclist needs is a bike rack that almost fits. You don’t want to be changing lanes on the parkway and think, whew, I sure can see better now that stupid wheel isn’t taking up the whole mirror. AAAAAAA!

But I discovered that, if I folded the back seats down and took the front wheel off the bike, I could gouge and disfigure the inside of my car instead of the outside.

2: Why would you leave your bike in the back of your car for a week while you fly away on vacation somewhere?

Because it’s cheaper than hiring a sitter.

Every time I attempt to remove the bicycle from the back of my car, the handlebars get caught in the autoturf (you know, that fake fuzzy “carpeting”), I strain my back, the crank snags on the lip of the trunk and I get tire tracks on my shirt. Then I have to drag it down the stairs to the basement and hang it up next to the spiders.

The very next time I want to ride, I have to reverse the whole process. It’s very unsettling for the spiders. Not to mention my sacroiliac, which has already tried to get a PFA order against me.

So I just leave it in the car. I know someday I will regret this, if I am ever at a party with, say, George Clooney AND Antonio Banderas, and they both need a ride somewhere, and I have only one seat available.

On the other hand, that’s what laps are for.

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