Saturday, March 28, 2009

"lost" bikes never gonna break in my stride...ain't never gonna hold me down, oh no, I got to keep on mooooooooovin'

I can't remember the last time I posted something about our bicycles. I remember for awhile we were posting a lot of things. It really bugged us when Erin "lost" her first bicycle. (Cultural note: if your bicycle gets stolen in China, when you tell people about it in Chinese, the phrase you use translates roughly to "I lost my bike" and not "someone stole my bike.") I've since mellowed out. Bikes get stolen over here. It still saves a lot of money to ride them places, and riding bikes in a pack of Chinese bicyclists is one of the most exhilarating things I've ever experienced.

As a recap to our current bicycle situation, Erin's new bike got stolen last semester, so then she used my bicycle to go to school, which was actually a bicycle we inherited from an American guy named Chase who went back to the states. Eventually, we saw some guys on a street by Nankai selling super, super cheap bikes. We went and bought one for Erin, so that we could both have bikes, only to discover about a week later that the reason these bicycles were so cheap was because the gear and the pedals were actually slightly BEHIND where your body is positioned on the seat. I want you to stop for a moment and imagine pedaling a bicycle with the pedals very slightly behind your center of gravity. It was horrible. You get a good crosswind hitting you and it felt like you were moving backwards. Not having functional bikes for both of us was no huge loss, at the time, since it was the middle of winter and my school is a ways away, and Nankai is really close. I just took taxis to school and Erin rode our one good bike. The taxis sound like a ridiculous thing to do, I know, but you must keep in mind that the cost of a 20 minutes taxi ride translates to a little over two U.S. dollars here. The real loss was that I just missed riding my bike, particularly riding around to places with Erin on the weekends.

So, now that it's thawing out in Tianjin (I type, as I'm wearing my red long underwear), I decided that I wanted to get a working bike and start riding it to school. Last week I asked Sam, Erin's brother, to show me the place where he got Chase's bike, and also his own bicycle. Actually, it's the same bike Erin is using. Also, the week before last, Sam got a bicycle from the same place for a Canadian guy named Scott. Scott's wife Olga already has one of these bikes. While Sam was helping me he joked around about all of us having the same bicycles. There was one moment when Sam and I were riding together past a group of people, and he looked down at our matching bicycles and said "Riders of ROHAN!" Before Erin and I leave China I want to take a picture of everyone who owns this same bicycle riding them together at the same time. I think this can be done. Also, the guy who owns this little bicycle shop loves Sam. I think Sam should be getting some kind of kickback, or percentage from this guy. Sam Billing is the Tianjin bicycle connection.

Yesterday Erin and I rode to my school together, so that I could time the ride and not arrive late once I start bicycling there next week. It's about an eight mile ride. I'm looking forward to it. I'll try to remember to take my camera with me and get some shots of things I pass on the way. The picture I'm posting with this is from our friend Miguel's birthday party last week. Miguel is from Columbia and is one of our good friends here in Tianjin. He had his party in one of the local little park areas by some apartment buildings. I think what you see in the background of this picture looks very Tianjin to me. Miguel cooked Columbian BBQ for a bunch of international students on these little charcoal grills and we had a really nice time.

P.S.: I almost forgot! The cheap bike that was so horrible to ride was parked in the big pile of bicycles in front of our apartment all winter, with a little lock on it. I took off this lock so that I could use it, along with a massive, heavy-duty chain lock I bought, on my new bike. Estimated time before the crappy bike with the horrible center-of-gravity was stolen? 12 hours.

haha. Take that, thieves! I hope you hit a crosswind.

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