Monday, June 14, 2010

somtimes a bicycle is just a bicycle

I used to dream of being a bicycle tour guide. Now, I literally dream about being a bicycle tour guide. Almost every night I have a dream about giving a tour, though some are more like nightmares. It turns out that this is a common Fat Tire phenomenon that afflicts most of the guides. I need not any Freudian interpretation of my unconscious mind and I'm pretty sure the bicycles in my dreams actually do represent bicycles.

I'm getting in the groove of giving tours. Though the information on the stops flows from me like wine from a barrel, not much else is the same on every tour. Segway tours are fun because the groups are much smaller (like 8 Segway riders compared to 22 bikers) so you get to know the people on the tour and the group size is easier to manage. Only there is one major obstacle in Segway tours - poles. And by obstacle I don't mean some figurative hindrance that must be overcome with sheer determination. I literally mean obstacle, because someone rides straight into a pole on nearly every tour. During the training at the beginning of the tour I drone on about looking out for poles and poodles yet somehow, people run straight into them. I had a lady this week ride directly into a light-post then her Segway rolled into the street, leaving me dashing out to save it from a passing Smart car. Most crashes result in a bruised ego more than anything else, thanks to the invention of the helmet. Never a dull moment.

Bicycles riders are slightly less accident-prone, but these tours offer their own set of unique challenges. I can now very swiftly flip a bike over like a pro. Once I have my tools-in-hand and am adjusting nuts and bolts (just learned which is which this week) nothing about me seems like a pro. I've made several fixes on my tours but thankfully have not had a flat tire yet. (please take a moment to say a quick prayer right now that no one gets a flat tire on my tours). It's inevitable - it will happen, and it won't be pretty. And sometimes when you don't know how to fix something breaking it entirely is the only thing to do - like I did with the tire fender in this photo.

I had an extra-large group on a bike tour last week - 25 people that were all traveling together. Seriously, imagine trying to lead 25 people on quick turns through neighborhoods or crowded bus/bike lanes with stoplights every 50 meters. I lost two people on my tour. Yes, you read that right. I lost two people on my tour and never saw them again. It was between the shop and our first stop. I searched for them, my manager rode his bike all over searching for them. I felt terrible, nearly frantic. Only, it turns out they decided the streets are too scary and turned back without telling anyone and dropped their bikes at Fat Tire and hung out in the park until the tour returned. I have now added a bit to my pre-tour speech that says if you want to turn back, please let someone know!

I am still exhausted on most days. My one day off was yesterday and instead of exploring Paris I stayed home most of the day. Even when I was in college I wasn't getting home this consistently at 2am! After work a couple nights ago a group of us hung out on the Peace Monument, which is at the end of the Champs de Mars (the park at the base of the Eiffel Tower). The tower sparkles the first five minutes of the hour from 10pm - 1am, and at the 1am sparkle the orange back-lights are turned off and the tower just sparkles. I see it sparkle nearly every night but I try to take a moment and appreciate it, and being here to see this great monument glitter in the sky.

1 comment:

  1. As usual sounds like you're having a blast. Glad to hear about your mechanical skills. You can help me work on my cars when you get back home, whenever that is!!! Love and miss you