Freshie Bwogger Justin Vlasits arrived in New York City from his automobile-friendly DC suburb only to find that he is sorely lacking in the city’s fastest and cheapest mode of transportation.  So, with helmet and vehicle provided by editors Armin Rosen and Lydia DePillis, respectively, Justin is set loose in the Wien courtyard in a vain attempt to learn how to ride a bicycle.

bikeI mean, even monkeys can do this, I told myself. Riding a bike can’t be that hard–and besides, I’m so good at the stationary ones in the gym! But after 45 minutes of ball-bruising, shin-banging fun, my body would tend to disagree. 

Each time I tipped over when I started to pedal, I realized just how nice those stationary bikes really are. When I’m in Dodge, I feel like I could have a leg chopped off and beat Lance Armstrong. Out in the elements, the tiny drainage inclines seem like a mountain course requiring minute weight shifts so subtle and complex that I felt like my internal gyroscope must be either missing or fundamentally out of whack. 

Now would be a good time to explain the motivation behind this endeavor.  Normally, one who is extremely inept at something like riding a bike would never try and learn after the age of 10.  During a conversation with bike-addict Lydia, however, she convinced me that it is totally unacceptable for a city-dweller to rely on the subway and my size 10 Reeboks to get me where I need to go, and subsequently offered to teach me.  Unfortunately, even those who know how to ride a bike are nearly incapable of communicating in words how they do it–the necessary steps are so ingrained into the process of cycling that, despite the most earnest attempts to aid me on my quest, she couldn’t get me through the learning process without a measure of physical anguish.

And while the gangly boy careening around the courtyard on a too-small bike must have seemed absurd to onlookers (who were, for the most part, kind enough not to laugh in my face), an unbearable pain began to emerge between my legs and I soon forgot I was in the center of the free world and thought that I might be experiencing some sort of ancient genital mutilation ritual.  Sorry ladies, the boys are not available this evening.

On the bright side, I did successfully move forward on more than one occasion and only lost my crotch and my dignity.  But watch out New York, I’ll be back and pedaling soon.  Once I can sit down again.

Photo by Lydia DePillis