Citibike Dressage

A few weeks ago, I was running late coming back from my riding lesson. My lesson had run long, and the traffic had been bad, and it was the one day I’d ever scheduled something for after. I’d dropped my car at the garage and grabbed a taxi and gone immediately to a hair appointment in my sweaty riding togs. For someone like me, part of the attraction to horseback riding was the outfits. I like leggings and oxfords and little blazers and fuzzy velvet hats and boots. (I am a Hat Person – but that is a topic for another post). Excepting the helmet, I literally wear that exact outfit to the office, frequently.

But that particular weekend was the hottest weekend of the year-to-date. So I was racing to a hair appointment in sweaty skintight clothing, smelling like a horse, helmet in tow.

My stylist tolerated me, managed to detangle my mop, and eventually sent me on my way. By then, the evening had cooled down slightly, and since I had a helmet with me anyway, I thought I should just Citibike home! I was coming from all the Flatiron district and heading to the Upper East Side, so this was a ride of more than 50 blocks. It was just me and the delivery boys out on bikes – it was still a blistering evening; the “cooldown” was relative.

After a few blocks on the bike, I noticed that people were hooting and whistling as I rode past. I checked, quickly, to make sure that I hadn’t split my breeches; that nothing was hanging out. I was riding a Citibike in what was obviously a horseback riding helmet; wearing what were clearly horseback riding clothes. I had strapped my monogrammed boat n’ tote to the front basket and was riding up Third Avenue, looking like I’d commandeered a hulking cerulean steed, mistaking it for the horse I’d rode in on. I rode another few blocks before I crossed the Rubicon of awareness and realised why people were trying to get my attention: I looked like an idiot.

Around Murray Hill, a middle-aged man on the corner screamed Fuck you, Ann Romney! at me, and cackled with delight at his own cleverness.

I finally made it over to the bike lane on First Avenue, and turned on to my street, awash in a mix of embarrassment, amusement, and adrenaline. As I rode down my street, a pizza delivery guy whistled at me long and loud. I made a rude gesture as I locked the Citibike into place; snapped a photo of the bike for posterity (because if you don’t take a picture, it didn’t happen); and headed into my building.

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(Predictably, that same delivery man was delivering pizza to someone in my building and I had to suffer through a mildly humiliating, interminable elevator ride with him.)

I learned a lot that day. For instance, merely because one can ride two things in one day using the same equipment does not mean that one should endeavour to be quite so foolish/ambitious. Maybe sometimes I try to do too much and wind up looking ridiculous, even if I do have some fun in the process.

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