September 13, 2013

FRIDAY: The Green Schwinn's where it's at.


---- — My bike is cooler than your bike.

I have this olive-green 1973 Schwinn Breeze women’s touring bike. That means it looks like the bike that the witch rides in "The Wizard of Oz." All I’m missing is the wicker basket on back.

Let me be clear: I am not a witch. I just stole the witch’s bike. Serves her right!

I swear, my bike is practically a celebrity in itself. It’s got gorgeous shiny fenders and a fun bell for a horn, like it walked (wheeled?) right out of "The Little Rascals." At my first group ride this summer, one of the other riders told me it was the coolest bike there. Move over, 21-speed bikes. Step aside, Cannondales. Fear the green Schwinn.

Funny though. My bike only has three speeds.

There’s a little lever on the right handlebar that switches from first to second to third gears for me. First gear, I’ve named “French roast.” It’s like coffee in the morning. It gives you a jump-start for the rest of the ride. That’s important for the rides that start before 9 a.m. I’m clearly not an early-morning person.

Second gear is called “Oooh shiny!” I get distracted when I’m riding in second gear. It’s just slow enough to go sight-seeing. That’s my trouble though. I’ve nearly tumbled off my bike because I was paying more attention to the trees along the side of the bike trail than I was to the trail itself. Hey, trees are more dangerous than you think. You never know when the trees are going to jump out in front of you!

In some parts of the city, you can even pretend the sidewalks are obstacle course games. Second gear is great for speeding you through the traps of tree roots. +2 points if you crunch a leaf on the way. -10 points for getting ambushed by a tree.

But third gear? That’s “Boeing.” Maybe 17 mph feels like crawling in a car, but when you’re on a bike, you feel like you’re ready for takeoff. That’s why bike repairmen Orville and Wilbur Wright decided they wanted to build airplanes.

You can even outpace dogs in third gear. Then the dogs just sit there behind you, whining in the exquisite agony of having lost their target, like Snoopy after he’s missed the Red Baron.

In third gear, the trees are still a hazard, though. Better keep an eye on them.

Sarah Einselen

Friday editor / owner of Cass County’s coolest bike