I sold my black mountain bike more than 10 years ago. I regret it. A week ago, I bought the bike in the photo. This time I chose Ladies' bike. It has 21-speed instead of 3. I didn’t think I needed 21-speed, but it came with it. I also knew I was a bit short for this 26” bike. I’m 5'3". Before I bought it, I asked a man in Walmart if 24” was better for my height, showing my small hands. He replied 24” was for kids. I nodded, but thought in Japan many adults ride small Dahon bikes. We have very little room inside or outside our Japanese homes.
Not to prove the point, but I prefer not using my garage right now. Why? Please don’t ask. I let readers make a wild and kind guess. Anyway, I park the bike inside for now. Look at the shape. Mountain bike is boyish looking. Does the attached basket look funny? I used to dislike the shape of Ladies bikes because many of them have feminine curvatures. But this bike has just an inclined but straight front bar. I hear that the Ladies bikes with curvatures—I don’t know what to call them-- are much easier to ride. It is probably so.
But I like boyish looking bikes, and I like my new one. The second day after I purchased, I rode it to a local market and bought a quarter cut water melon, a cantaloupe melon, a bottle of vegetable sauce called tonkatsu sauce, and a few other items. I filled them in the white basket attached to bike. Going down to the market is easy. But coming back, my gear was already up to the top of my right hand lever, 7-speed. I thought I should take advantage of 21-speed. I reached a turn and felt a bit uphill ahead. I exerted the left lever for the first time. The bike wiggled. Bang! I didn’t fight. I let go. I sat on a residential road for a while. No car passed. I knew I had just scrapes. My body ached here and there, but this accident proved to me I needed more exercises. The bottle rolled out of the basket on to asphalt, but it was fine. No crack. I needed it for my sautéed cabbage.
I've been thinking. It’s possible for me to learn how to use all 21-speed, but my body is not as young as I feel. It's better to ride the one I feel most comfortable with. The last bike I owned was also Schwinn Mountain bike. I didn’t ride that much. I guess I was busy. Wait a minute. I think I didn’t ride that bike because it wasn’t as comfortable as my childhood bike.
My childhood bike was Maruishi Ladies bike called Pink Lady. It was pink. I was a fifth grader. I used to ride it to my ballet class which was five or six bus stops away until the day I was hit by a small truck. I didn’t stop at a stop sign near my house. I was on the way to see a classmate of mine in next town. In those days, traffic education was for car drivers. Children had ridden bikes like born free. Stop signs were strangers, and they hid way above our heads on wooden telegraph poles. In the same week I had the accident, another boy in my class was also struck by a large truck. I was absent from school for 10 days or so. When I returned to school, I learned that the school started a traffic education. I looked forward to such lesson, but someone said all the students in the school took the lesson in the quad, and it was already finished. The boy returned to school after two months. He wore a casket on his arm. The boy and I missed the traffic education.
After that, a pair of women wearing yellow jacket appeared at stop signs. The term, Yellow Ladies, became popular. Shortly after that, Green Ladies sprouted and became well known throughout Japan as traffic controllers and protectors of children.
Let’s jump back to my new bike. There is nothing wrong with the bike. It’s beautiful, able, and good price. A friend of mine says I can exchange it, but I hardly ever return any products. So, I’ve been thinking, then, my daughter calls me. She has returned from her vacation. I say she can use the bike when she comes over. She says yes. Maybe I'll buy the kind of very comfortable Ladies bike which allows my feet to touch the ground with minimum effort, and my small hands can rest on break handles without extending my fingers. I don’t feel motivated to go shopping right away though. In the meantime, I’ll ride the green bike and sweat a lot.