1/03/2006

Ten-speed bike

My inability to make decisions started in my childhood when I got a 10-speed bike. I never knew which speed to select. None of them felt right. And once I found the correct speed, the terrain would change. A hill, traffic, some dirt, a puddle, a deflating tire -- all required a different speed.

The 10-speed bicycle added much anxiety to a bike ride. The gears had too many subtle increments. So instead of enjoying my ride, I grappled with the two shifting levers on the handlebars in search of that elusive, perfect speed. Remember how difficult it was to change gears? You had to tweak those levers just right or the gear assembly would go into a conniption fit. I always had a shifting problem while riding past other people. “Oh, look Harold. The retarded kid is learning how to ride a bike.” Up yours, Grandma. The Princeton Math Department couldn’t figure out this contraption.

And God help you if you attempted to change gears while climbing a hill. You’d better kiss your beanbag goodbye because you were heading for a testicular mishap. First, the chain derails while you’re in the down-stroke of your pedal. Then the chain lodges between two rear sprockets. The cranks freeze. You lose your footing and your body flings forward. The pedals zip around and gouge you in the shin. And then, the coup-de-grace -- your beanbag collides with the goose neck. (That was a close call. I almost fell. Thankfully I broke my fall with my gonads and a solid piece of metal!) Think about it, guys. Over the course of your life lots of things strike your gonads. But nothing smarts as much as a bicycle component. I know why Lance Armstrong developed testicular cancer: chronic blunt trauma!

Ten speeds? Who needs 10 speeds? A tractor-trailer has only 6 forward gears and it can pull a boxful of Marlon Brandos. A bike needs to propel a skinny adolescent through the wind. A few speeds will do: slow for up-hills, medium for casual touring and fast for when that douche bag Sean Haas is chasing you. It’s not my fault they held you back in 6th grade twice because you’re so dumb, Sean. Take it up with God or the manufacturer of the glue you mother sniffed while she was conceiving you.

The 10-speed’s range of pedal-to-wheel ratios was absurd. Remember what 1st gear was like? You had to get those legs whirling like an egg beater just to keep enough speed to balance the bike. I once rode to my friend’s house in 1st gear and caused a rash in my crotch that would have flummoxed Pamela and Tommy Lee. Tenth gear was no more useful. By the time you pedaled a full revolution you were in the next zip code. And it was so hard to pedal you’d give yourself a hemorrhoid. Who the hell did they create 10th gear for -- The Hulk?

Anyway, I’ve never been able to make decisions after getting my 10-speed. Learned Helplessness, I figure.

57 comments:

Nettie said...

Maybe your terrain was the problem. BLame it all on the terrain...

Lizabeth said...

My bike has something like 24 speeds. Thats a lot of decisions. The ol' clam doesn't like smackin' the bar much either. ouch.

So how do you really feel about Sean Haas? Was he your best friend?

gusgreeper said...

sweet story.
i remember falling on my vagina trying to ride bikes too big for me when i was little. man it hurts like a bitch once i came down on it so hard i bled. but being one of 'the boys' i could show no pain.

Spinning Girl said...

I was never as happy with my ten-speed as I had been with my old banana-seat Huffy. With the brakes on the pedals, yeahhh, baby. I spent my formative years riding that banana seat. And by formative, I of course mean my first sexual experience.

Another fun moment is when you hit something with the front tire and consequently slide off the seat onto the bar, and whack your pubic bone. Then you make the sound ... you know the one, it sounds like an Elephant Seal giving birth:
Hhhhhhhhhhhyyyyyy
yyyuuuuuggggghhhh
hhhhhhhh!

Then there's the time you and your twin sister decide to ride side by side, each holding the other's handles. You fall instantly, and the axle of her wheel punctures a 1" hole into your thigh, and you have to get a tetanus shot. Remember that? Ah, good times.

Childhood was great.

kcterrilynn said...

Ha! I'm totally stealing the phrase 'testicular mishap' and will work into a conversation today...nevermind that I don't actually own a pair of testicles, it's just to perfect not to plagiarize.

Amandarama said...

I begged and begged and begged my dad to buy me a ten-speed bike. And when he finally relented, it was the cheapest no name one he could find. It didn't seem to matter what speed I tried using, the damn thing wouldn't budge from my driveway. I used it twice. I made the decision after that to not buy anything until I could afford to buy the one I wanted. Now I'm broke a lot.

DayByDay4-2Day said...

you know that modern bikes have more then 10 gears don't ya?

nongirlfriend said...

Thank God it wasn't an 18-speed. You would really be fucked up then.

Anonymous Shannon said...

I had a ten-speed! It was awesome. It was the fastest thing I could get that would outrun my dad when I acted bad. Well..then he got in the car and dragged my ass home! However, I thought I was home free for about 10 second on my 10-speed!

Greg - Cowboy in the Jungle said...

YES!!! I damn near lost my bean bag in a shifting accigent. I have a permanent scar on my chin from it.

I was racing a VOLVO on my 12 speed (9th grade) and whli going down a steeep hill I put-er into 12th gear to catch the Volvo.

KA-CUNK the derailure slipped the chain off and my feet sped up sans resistence from the wheels. They slipped off the pedals and began trailing behind me. I wore hole in the TOP of my Chuck Taylors.

Having slipped the pedals I landed straddeling the bar with the bike seat wedged firmly up my ass hole.

I was gripping the handle bars too tightly to let go and hit the brakes. My speedometer read 43 mph and I had plenty of hill ahead of me. My only choice was to pull to the side and rub the wheel on the side of the curb.

Alas this proved too difficult and I struck the only NONBRICK mailbox on the street.

The flag was up and it gashed my chin, neck, chest, and hung on my belt.

The post was cemented in the ground 3 feet deep with a brick planter 1 foot tall around it. I hit with enough impact (180 pounds X 43 mph = 7740 foot pounds of energy) to dislodge the entire post and obliterate the brick planter.

I moved the whole assembly about 15 feet across the driveway. The last thing I remembered was watching my glasses skitter across the pavement and then I lost consiouness.

Fortunately I only needed stitches from the flag and a tetnus shot. The bike was toast. MULTIPLE pieces.

That's right bub! Screw the 10 speed and its evil brother the 12 speed!

Anonymous Shannon said...

What Greg didn't tell you is that all of this occurred because he was trying to impress the little girl that lived down the street from him ;P

Ari said...

The suckiest part of my bike was, when the tire went flat, it was like a disposable bike.

Helpful adult? Forgetaboutit.

Tire goes flat, no more bike for 3 or 4 months.

O, the tribulation!!

The Orchestrator said...

I hope to God this story was past tense.

StringMan said...

The worst is when those things derail and you get all that grease all over you trying to get the chain back on. And I can't believe that the crossbar hurts a woman as much as a man.

Did I say that right?

Latigo Flint said...

I adore you LBB. Do you know that? Brutalized testicles and all.

Lightning Bug's Butt said...

Your adoration means the world to me, Latigo. You MUST know that.

Jeez, are we reenacting a scene from Brokeback Mountain here?

Frap Gurl said...

The 10th gear! Try a 12 speed!

As always... Rachael said...

What a gem this post was! By the way, a good crotch crash hurts pretty bad when you're a girl too! Oh where, oh where have all the hymens gone??? Mine's up there in ten-speed heaven!

HighMaintenanceHussy said...

I had the COOLEST 10 speed bike. It was teal and hot pink, and I don't think I ever used anything but the first two gears.

I'm quite sure that my hymen went the way of the Huffy, too.

the Monk said...

In India, I think one in 100 bikes is a 10 speed...I have a gearless bike...can be a bitch when riding uphill...

Peter said...

Thank god for three speeds and flat terrain!!

jules said...

OMG..I can barely see through the tears of laughter! I was just looking at bikes last night and wondering which one to buy. I'm thinking I might just walk after reading this!

PBS said...

No wonder I had such trouble with my 12-speed. Have taken it ouch twice. (no, that's not a typo)

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

Oh that was just friggin' CLASSIC....I loved it.

But you know, even though us females don't have a "beanbag", if we do the same thing on a boys bike, it hurts like hell. I've done it before and still think that's the reason I can't have any children now...;)

Heather said...

I was clotheslined off of my ten-speed by a guideline last fall. So now, I eye my bike wearily and say, "Easy there. Good girl." before I get on. That way, maybe she won't steer me into the path of an oncoming car next time.

Barry S. said...

I had my first 10-speed a total of 3 days. I was flying down a hill, failed to turn properly going through an almost 90-degree curve, and proceeded to land in the middle of a cookout.

I think I took years off the elderly woman's life as she watched the events unfold.

I think her husband was pissed because I startled him and his hot dog fell of its stick and into the campfire.

Luckily, my mom had an uncanny ability to return almost anything, including bikes with bent frames.

My next bike as a 12-speed and it got stolen.

I drive everywhere I go now.

Mia said...

Cracking me up here....

I STILL can't ride a bike with gears.. who the hell KNOWS what you're supposed to do with them all.. and could I settle for a mere 10 speed? Oh no.. I've got 21 of the little suckers to deal with..

Thanks for making me know I'm not alone *grin*

Oh, and don't think for a minute you guys and your gonads are all special... it doesn't exactly "tickle" us girls when we fall like that either ya know!!

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Re your comment on my site: Did Latigo buy your book? Did he promote it on his site? Hoss did both.

Spirit Of Owl said...

First off, Happy New Year. Second, get a unicycle and kiss those decision blues goodbye.

SugarHigh said...

sweet lord, i just spit coffee all over my computer screen. you crack me up. thanks for the laugh and the coffe spittle.

Teaspoon said...

Not to get too technical, but most tractor-trailers have 10 gears, some only 8, but I have also driven ones with up to 13.

But when I have mised a shift, or made a rough one I have never mashed my beanbag like you do on a bike.

So I agree that the bike is an evil mechanism.

Weary Hag said...

And to think I considered asking Santa for a bike this Christmas. Good think I had a change of heart.

I have a tough enough time making decisions as it is and the last thing I need is to acquire injuries in the already painful process. Bleh.

Dave Morris said...

So that's what causes testicular cancer.

Video X said...

wow. i hate bikes. my bike was stolen in 8th grade. i finally got a new one this past summer. i'm 31. i hate it. it has 50,000 gears. and it doesn't work right. i almost knocked a couple kids over trying to re-learn how to ride it. before that i got hurt riding double. they've always been against me.

i'm sorry your 10 speed ruined your decision making capability. but i appreciate your sharing that information...now i can use my bikes as scapegoats for whatever i want...thanks for opening my mind to the possibilities.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

There are these newfangled things called "cars"...

Pirate said...

I'm with you on the ball sack mishaps. That's why i stuck to a one speed bike as an adult.

Karen said...

My ten-speed? I never got the hang of them, and of course my sisters knew this and they went out of their way to mess with them constantly. Siblings, gotta love'em LOL

ChickyBabe said...

I never learnt to ride a bike without training wheels. What does that make me?

Eunice said...

I suppose you can be grateful that you didn't grow up in this generation where the new bikes have 24 and 30 speeds. I never saw the use for them all, but hey...

Bennet said...

Yes I remember that all too well. I didn't even know such pain existed until that point.

I'll never forget the clash my crotch took against those protruding three shiny bolt heads at the handle bar joint....I think that was what spawned my doubts in religion.

kari said...

Ten speeds...none quite right for the given situation. Seems like a fitting analogy for life.

kari said...

I'm going to link you...hope you don't mind.

joy said...

I'm a new reader. Totally love it.

Sean Haas said...

You dipshit! You never could figure out how to use that bike, could you? That's why I always caught up with you and beat the ever-living crap out of you! You sure were an ugly motherfucker. And even uglier when I got done pounding your useless mug.

I see you still think you're clever. Didn't help you do push-ups or chin-ups in gym class back in the day, though. I'm sure it's not doing you much good now while you slave away for the man.

Have fun, man. I'll catch up with you later. Just like the old days.

Smartypants said...

Thank God some other kid knows the pain I felt when completely overwhelmed by the possibilities of a ten-speed bike that I named "Lucky."

Anti-Blogger said...

My ten-speed was my greatest possession. Until my "testicular mishap". Then I drowned it in the nearest creek. It only cried for a little bit.

Lightning Bug's Butt said...

aka, Sean: Sean Haas is a fictional character, a figment of the imagination -- much like your penis or your ability to write an entertaining post.

Miss Sassy said...

Thank you for naming the evil that is indecision!!!
F*ck if I could even reach the pedals on the 12 speed my mom wouldn't ride so my dad gave it to me... that gave me the "you said I could so I should but I can't and now I suck" complex to go along with not being able to choose a burger at a fast food joint.

12 speeds in the valley; why oh good gracious would they sell that bike to us???

But watching the imagery slide show from your post makes it all ok by me today =)
Thanks for the laughs!!

TamWill said...

I can relate! What a mess tryin to figure out all those gears at the age of 12!

You ever think of doing stand up comedy?

Riss said...

Brilliant! I thought I was the only person who had difficulty with that gear thing. I never even thought about the psychology behind it. This explains why it takes me forever to select something in the chip aisle. Do I want Funyuns? Do I want Puffed Cheetos? Who can tell.

Elaine said...

"Sean Haas is a fictional character, a figment of the imagination -- much like your penis or your ability to write an entertaining post."

OOOOOOOOH......MODED! (hehe)

You should have just stuck to the tried and true banana seat bicycles. Fun for all and hey, NO gears and NO testicular cancer!!

Sean Haas said...

Touchy, touchy. Did someone steal your lunch money again?

brianna said...

if it makes you (or your gonads) feel any better, it hurts us girls just as much when our junk hits the bike bar. slams into our pelvic bone, and boy did i stop kicking men in the nuts after that happened to me.

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