When I lived in Houston I used to run on “The Rivercrests.” It was collectively called as such because they were aptly named North, South, East, and West Rivercrest. (Though they didn’t follow directions. It’s okay, it’s Texas so you’re exempt.) The area was posh – hyper posh. The homes sat on estate lands, so sometimes you couldn’t see them – even if there wasn’t a fence. There was a security guard who drove around and live peacocks who regularly wandered the area.
And on those Rivercrests there was a house. And around that house there were parked lots and lots and lots of cars.
All kinds, some fancy, some regular. Imports, exports, overports and underports. But around that house they lived and were moved and were polished. It was a constant, ever streaming, ever shuffle of cars.
I’m like that now, in Oxford, except it’s with bikes.
When I moved here and got a job I had to get a bike. Having the luck of working in Oxford meant the lack of needing a car all the time. So I carefully went down and picked out a pink and purple mountain bike with basket and silver trim. I also immediately crashed that bike having gone against the old saying of never forgetting how to ride a bike. But eventually I got better and bike and I lived in harmony.
Then we got a housemate and he got a bike. When he left, he left the bike for a friend who never showed up. Despite its frame being an inch taller than my mountain bike I started to alternate riding so the gears wouldn’t lock up. When the brakes up and disappeared from my mountain bike and I waited for them to be replaced, I rode it constantly.
And then the other bike’s brakes went.
At the time my friend who is an incredible bike mechanic was traveling, so he took those bikes for a bit and lent me a mean green mountain bike with no shocks. In between that time a bike was dumped in near-perfect condition in the median of our street. With just a punctured tyre it was totally fixable and when the other two bikes came back, it went in and returned good as new.
Now I have acquired three bikes. Literally one for every day of the week I bike to work.
It’s become the thought that once the second bike showed up it mated with my first bike and produced a baby bike in the median one sordid night. There is a worry that if I do leave the bikes too close together a tricycle and a two-seater will one day pop up unannounced near the garbage bins, much like two cats I currently own.
In the end I think this is just part of the Oxford culture. You show up, move in and think, “Hey, I’ll buy a bike…” and then here you are a year later rolling through the city on one of your twenty-five little two-wheeled family members.
Maybe I’ll eventually have a bike of the day, and then I’d have to hire my bike mechanic permanently. I can be like the Rivercrest house. Polishing, oiling and rotating the bikes throughout the back garden in a never-ending peacock display of wheels and peeling paint.