I remember the glory days when it was fun to jump on a bike and ride around the neighborhood for hours. Not a care in the world. Back then my bike was teal-blue (even though I begged my parents for a pink one). It had a striped banana seat, curvy handlebars with long tassels, a bell that made a high-pitched tinny sound, and a straw basket with plastic flowers that I never used very much. Sometimes I clipped my brother’s baseball cards on the spokes so that it made that cool, swishing sound whenever I’d peddle really fast. Jeez, I miss that bike.
Back then, no one wore bike helmets. No one would have dared. It was also the norm to give people rides (or gets rides) on the handlebars because, frankly, our parents refused to drive us everywhere. No matter how much we begged.
Today I’ve noticed that it’s a bit of an annoying production to go for a bike ride. In fact, these days, regardless of your age, here’s what you’ve got to do before you jump on your bike and start cruising the neighborhood:
1) First you’ve got to strap on a military-grade helmet that, presumably, can withstand an apocalypse or at least a 6.4 earthquake.
2) Forget about wearing jeans or cut-off shorts. Today your biking attire must contain at least 75% spandex. And the more fluorescent the better, preferably a blinding yellow capable of burning off a human retina. At least always dress like you’ve just returned from the Tour de France.
3) Shoes. Forget about wearing tennis shoes. You’ve got to buy special bike shoes, the kind that look like ballet slippers, only black. And they should make that annoying clicky sound when you walk quickly across the tiled coffee shop floor on a biking break to order your grande frappuccino. And remember to always say grande, never medium. If you can say it with a hint of an accent when ordering, even better.
4) The Bike. It must cost at least $1500, custom-made, if at all possible. No garage sale bikes or tassels or bells. Travel Warning: I think you’ll get arrested if you try to ride a cheap one in Phoenix. At the very least, plan on plenty of snickers and what’s he doing here frowns from fellow biking enthusiasts if you’re not peddling along on something that screams Lance Armstrong would ride this bike.
5) Bike gloves. You’ll need gloves because, I guess, your hands will get really sweaty. Get the leather ones with the cut-out fingers. Those look cool. And you’ll look like a safe-cracker too.
6) Water bottle. Never leave home without one. Tuck it in a special thingamajig you attach to the bike frame and avoid a generic brand, if possible.
7) Cool sunglasses. They must be black and sleek and preferably dark enough so that the person staring back at you can only see his reflection.
8) Always ride in packs. No one rides alone anymore. You must have at least six people trailing around you at all times so that it looks like you’re training for an Ironman marathon. In fact, tell everyone you’re training for a marathon. Why not? Everyone else does.
9) When you’re finally ready to ride, crouch low across your handlebars. Like you’re missing your spine. If you sit up in your seat, you’ll be mistaken for a novice. Not cool.
10) Under no circumstances should you ever ride a bicycle-built-for-two. You’ll just be asking for trouble and you’ll never get that song out of your head. ♪ ♫ ♪ You know the one.
::Writer X also writes at The 100 Most Annoying Things::