Partly inspired by a lack of a transport budget, and partly seduced by the long, curved lines of these two-wheeled beasts, on day three we spent the princely sum of $100 (about £66), pedalling out of the bike shop and into the proverbial sunset.
Something about the lowrider style and the enormous handlebars feels exactly like you are driving a hog or a Harley (I presume, my motorbike phase ended with a garden lawnmower in my teens). Yes, the photos show a couple of chirpy tourists wobbling uncertainly along the promenade, but inside we are bad to the bone.
Bad that is until we leave the flat and cycle-friendly beach area.
If you remember, our California Suites home is located a good 45 minutes away by bus. It’s about 8 miles. Across a canyon. Being both single-speed and made of steel, beach cruisers are not optimally designed for steep inclines, and soon our hell-raising façade has faded, and one of us (ok, me) wants to throw a toddler-style tantrum.
Too stubborn to admit that our new bikes were somewhat optimistic for the desert terrain, we walk, and push, and mutter stuff like, “well, it’s truly miserable, but we’re jetlagged and maybe another day…” I’m not sure about Andy, but from my side of things, I’m hoping that day never comes. The hysterical laughter and “you tried to cycle up from the beach?” disbelief from everyone at Atos does nothing to allay that feeling.
Canyon climbs were just one half of our biking woes. What goes up must come down, and these bikes have old-school coaster brakes. Again, the clue’s in the title, and said brakes are better designed for coasting along the oceanfront, gliding to a halt whenever a seagull crosses your path. Despite being used to cycling fixed gear around London (not dissimilar to a real-life interpretation of ‘Frogger’) I soon discover that my natural reaction when braking under pressure is to lift both feet off the pedals. So whilst we are taking the weedy pavement option when faced with six-lanes of traffic (with just the occasional “Andy, look, police, police!!” from me), getting across the freeway in the ten seconds of white flashing walking time can result in the occasional panic.
My mum will be happy to know under these conditions, all effort goes into getting across and off the road safely.
Arboriculturalists might be less content to hear that my first evening’s braking, post-crossing, involved the help of a bush. Following the collision I can safely say it was Bush 1 – Lisa 0. Whilst the shrubbery looked immaculate, my shoulder and pride were more tatty.
Still, there's a very pretty backdrop for such calamities. Back on the steel horse tomorrow...