A couple of weeks ago I woke up on a friend’s couch with an entire posse of clown dolls staring at me from the mantel as if they knew, and did not approve of, my character. My friend’s roommates are potters, and from what I gathered they had carved, glazed, and fired the little beasts into existence before depositing them onto the mantel. I lay on the couch for a while in my goin’ out outfit from the night before, and wondered what would possess artists with such ability to create such hateful dolls. When I got up to leave for work the clowns were still staring and passing judgment on me. I could feel it.
It felt better outside, refreshing in that morning sort of way. Also, my new BikeBoard was waiting for me. “What is a BikeBoard?” you may be wondering. Well, it’s like a long skateboard with a bicycle wheel in the front. It’s sort of an adrenaline-sport centaur. But if you know what a centaur is, you are probably not the target audience for it.
When I checked out the BikeBoard web site before buying it, the boys featured on the bike board team reported that they enjoyed gliding and carving, launching air, and bombing hills on their boards. One said his favorite trick was the “board slide to switch front pretzel out,” and that his favorite food was steak. Also, he reported, “If I won the lotto I would buy a house for my dog just because.”
He had me at “buy a house for my dog just because,” so I bid $35.00 for a BikeBoard on eBay. It was perhaps not the most developmentally appropriate purchase I had ever made, but I felt I ought to be living on the edge a bit more, and a bid on a freestyle BikeBoard seemed like a step in that direction.
When the box came in the mail, after seven to ten days, it read “Like Nothing Else on Wheels” in an oversized and extreme font. I assembled it pretty close to properly (except for the handle bars), and I weighed in under the manufacturer’s suggested weight limit. I know because I had to check the fine print.
I felt good that morning as I left my friend’s house behind and pushed off. The air was cold, and my lower back strong, and when I caught a glimpse of myself in home windows I was successfully convinced that I didn’t look like I was riding to or from an old folks group home. Even though I was wearing my goin’ out pants, I felt free.
I knew from the web site that the board was capable of as many tricks as my imagination could conjure, but I was just barely capable of imagining getting to work on time with an iced mocha in my hand and a shirt that was not completely sweaty. After about a mile I stopped for the mocha. The coffee shop guys said my ride was “sick,” and I almost blushed before I pushed off again.
I was gripping my mocha, and riding this innovation in design in the morning quiet when I started to settle into a rhythm. My feet and my breath started to move in a pattern along with the wind and the beat of my heart. Ahead I saw, and then passed with a gentle effort, a pack of shirtless and singlet-clad runners. I felt happy to beat them. I had a destination. I was fast and healthy. It hasn’t always been like this, and it won’t always be like this.
Then I heard the runners say to each other that they should beat me. I could hear their breath as they picked up the pace. But I simply couldn’t let it happen, not on that day. I thought: I own this BikeBoard. I had bid on it, won it, assembled it, and learned to ride it. I pushed hard and felt completely in control.
That is, until the board hit a small rock and came to a complete stop. My body, of course, kept moving over the handle bars until I hit the concrete street and ripped my goin’ out pants, dumped my entire mocha, and almost — but did not — hit my head on the bumper of a parked car. The pack of runners stopped and asked if I was okay, but I didn’t want the hand one of them offered as help. “Put Neosporin on it,” he advised as they ran off.
And I was fine. I surmised I might have a scar on my knee, but I didn’t mind. I felt worse about the mocha. I wondered where I could get another one before work. The bike board web site had warned me that “more advanced technical tricks are limited only by a rider’s imagination, skill level, and style. I should have known the trick I would be best at ripping would be a fall. •