Skinny Daily Post

Invincible.

I must have mentioned my sister, right? The museum designer who decided to make a big career change, and at 40 became a nurse? She was studying the last time I mentioned her. And now she’s an RN. A Real Nurse. And she’s my baby blister. And I love her.

Right?

Well, she gave me — GAVE me — a lovely old bike. A bike of a certain age. A road bike, from circa 1970. French. A French racing bike, really. And in its day, it would have been a supremely hot bike. I know this, because I’ve got a few people in my circle who raced bikes in the 1970s, and they whistle low when they see her.

I have named her Mathilde for my daughter’s saucy and determined French god-daughter.

Here’s backstory: My brothers both rode a lot when they were in high school. They competed with one another, working hard to make enough money to buy ever more precious parts and mechanisms and tools with which to constantly upgrade their road bikes. They raced. And toured. And upgraded their bikes. And when I wanted a bike, and begged my Dad for one, he delegated the job to my brothers, who built me a bike out of their spare parts.

That was Sophia, because she was Italian. God, I loved that bike. I took it to college with me and rode it everywhere for years. Where I didn’t ride it, I carried it. It was part of me.

And one night, as I pulled an all-nighter at the school’s newspaper office, the bike, and the bike rack it was locked to, was stolen. Just gone.

I was wild, pestering the police department and campus security constantly for weeks. Finally I gave up and bought some bike from a local bike shop. What I could afford. And hated it. I kept my hated bike for years, never riding it, never riding again. Finally I got rid of fit. Poor, hated bike. Didn’t even name it.

Now Mathilde, and a sister who rides. And my brothers who ride, and we’re all gearing up for a big ride in our hometown in July. I don’t expect I’m going to do the whole thing — a 100-mile ride. I expect I’m going to do a nice smaller ride within that ride. But it’s gotten me off of the couch, where I’ve been for months.

Mathilde is beautiful, and she rides and feels exactly like my old bike. Of course, she has new wheels now. And a new chain. I needed to put clipless pedals on her. And had to get new shoes. The bike pants weren’t cheap. And I’m thinking a new stem… handlebars… maybe… Shout out to the bike gods at Velo City who are respectful of my old girl.

I’m broke. But she is beautiful. I’ll post a pic when I get one. After I turn in my taxes. Which should be… oh tomorrow, I suppose, yes?

Hey here’s the thing. My thighs…. my thighs are talking to me again. They like being awake in the world. They are telling me to say hi. Hi from my thighs.

So, back to my sister. This was a thinly veiled intervention on her part, the gift of this bike. And I knew that, and she knew I knew it. And I knew she knew I knew. And while normally I would react badly to an intervention where my body is concerned, or do exactly the opposite thing? I’m going with it this time. Because I know she loves me no matter what I do with or to my body. No one else could get away with it. But no one else could have such devious genius.

14 thoughts on “Mathilde

  1. Mercury says:

    You’re back with a bang, my dear. Great post. Send my love to Mathilde.

  2. Laura says:

    What a great story and a great sister.

    Thanks

  3. Julie says:

    Your words intrigue me to keep reading. I want to read every detail and absorb all the ways your words work to coax my brain to let it all sink in. Thanks for the brain food, it puts my “other” food into perspective. Yeah!

  4. Steph says:

    Great to see you back, JuJu, it is always a pleasure to read your words. I’m sorry for the loss of your mother, and happy to read that you are finding joy in life again. Mathilde sounds beautiful!

    -a long time reader

  5. Mj says:

    BRAVO, JuJu!!!

    Give Mathilde my greetings… … and your sister as well… although I must admit, a bike from the 1970s “old”?!?!?

    Ah, well…
    {{{hugs}}}
    Mj

  6. Greta says:

    I had a beautiful 1970’s racer and left it in the room I rented while I went to Antarctica. My roommates put it in the backyard in the rain for the 4 months I was gone and I came home to a rusted frame, rusted chain, and leather seat that was rotted. I kept riding it until about 10 years ago when I gave it away to charity and bought a mountain bike. What a mistake. This bike weighs a ton and is not the joy to ride that my French racer was, so I understand. Glad you have the feeling back.

  7. Constance says:

    What an incredible and inspirational story JuJu. Doing what you do best – so good to hear your words once again. This story reminds me of ‘my’ Schwinn I ‘used’ for a year plus while I was in college. I loved that bike. It was not only my transportation, but a sincere beginning to weight loss and good health. I had a cute little Volkswagon sitting behind my rental place, but could barely afford the payment, so it sat quietly while I peddled away. I would challenge myself to ride longer/further increasing both miles and enthusiasm for the bike. Sadly, it was randonly repossessed by a younger brother. You see, my father had him ‘give’ me his bike, saying he would pay him $100 for it. My father never paid my brother, and he repossessed it after over a year. I was/am so sad over this. I did my best to scramble together the $100, but is was not there. The ‘Schwinn’ still hangs in my brother’s garage -25 years later. I don’t hold it against him, I understand how he felt. I replaced it after college graduation with a new, fancy bike purchased after moving to Boston – I was ready. It was never the same. I bought a frame size smaller at the recommendation of the salesperson at the bike store – big mistake. I also bought a different brand of bike, it was light weight, but did not feel right. I sold it is a transient person for a few bucks a few years later. The huge smile on his face made it clear, this bike found it’s intented home. Currently I use a stationary bike only. Your words inspire me to actually set a goal of riding again – wondering why I would even consider giving up something that felt so good? Funny how some things remain with you over time. I lost both mother and father in the last 14 months, and do understand your loss. It brings out a garden variety of feelings, and a few weeds. I applaude you for continuing to inspire each of us to do our best, with what we have ‘been given’.

  8. Susie says:

    Ohhhhhhhhhhh.

    I feel that way about my Schwinn antique, Tootsie. She’s got vintage baskets in the back, one at the handlebars, streamers and a bell. She’s a clunker, though. No hand brakes, no gears. I ride her to the market and library, all a few blocks’ distance.

    But tomorrow….ah, tomorrow….I am going to buy my first road bike. I am surely crazy, because I have never actually ridden a bike with hand brakes or gears. Only bikes like Tootsie.

    And in July, I am registered to ride a 500-mile, 7-day charity tour.

    Why? ‘Cause I got bit by the spinning class bug HARD and it’s only an hour. I need more, more, more.

    I’m 50 years old and newly fit and trim. If not now, when?

    Juju, ride your heart out. And it’s so GOOD to have you back.

    Susie

  9. Quinn says:

    ooooooooooooo! A 1970s French racing bike!!!!! ooooooooooo!

    🙂

  10. london slimmer says:

    You make me feel so nostalgic for my bike riding days. I lived in Germany for a few years and I went everywhere on my beloved bicycle. I loved the freedom it gave me and it kept me fit. Now, however, I live in central London and my bicycle is sitting in my office and hasn’t been used for several years. I’m just too frightened. There are very few cycle paths and I’ve seen people knocked off their bikes several times in the street right outside my flat. I see cars and buses cutting cyclists up all the time and have witnessed a few nasty-looking collisions. There are lots of lovely areas to cycle in, but to get to any of them I’d have to traverse the more dangerous traficky routes. I have friends who are bold enough to cycle here in London, but I’m just simply not.

  11. Judy Johnson says:

    Welcome back! You’ve been missed. Enjoy the ride!

  12. Pat says:

    Hey JuJu – My DH Ion has a French Racing bike that he was gifted with also. Fantastic bikes! I haven’t thought about naming my bike – I name the cars, so why not? The point of course, is to move, and it’s the right time of the year. Michigan makes life so difficult for us that we need all the help we can get. I’ll be out there on my bike, too. I will if you will. 🙂

    Pat

  13. Cassandra says:

    I’d like to know more about your sister, being as I’m turning 40 this year and wondering what to do in the next chapter of life. Good for her for the career change.

  14. carol says:

    Greetings JuJu and Mathilde!

    Long may your ride be together.

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