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©2021 tuppenceforthebirds
Nan Gao
Beijing, CN
2020.05.17



Beijing by Bicycle
2011.05.26


My love of bikes is well-established—a hereditary condition passed down from my father.1

At the beginning of the term I had the luck to be assigned the one road bike in B.A.S.E.’s entire fleet. The excitement over my good fortune was short-lived, as I quickly realize that it had two flat tires, and few bike shops sell an air pump for presta valves (most tires in Beijing are equipped with Schrader valves or a Chinese equivalent). In lieu of actually solving the underlying problem, I spent the next two weeks getting around by foot and ignoring the fact that I was letting a perfectly good bike gather dust.

With the issue still unsolved, I took this little cruiser out for a spin a week-and-a-half ago to visit neighboring villages. Along the way I came across what looked like traditional Chinese architecture, but turned out to be an imitation facade pasted onto a government office building. Worse yet, my bike started to fall apart and no amount of verbal abuse, coaxing, or sweet-talking seemed to make it run any smoother (I did consider that the bike spoke Mandarin, and my curses were lost in translation). At any rate, it must have been quite the sight—me on a bike two sizes too small, cutesy basket out front, peddling my hardest and getting nowhere as cars honked and swerved around me.

The next day I went out a bought a new air pump and have been riding the road bike ever since.

1 His love for cycling has cost him a few broken bones, but never deterred him from getting back in saddle. He’s a bit stubborn—another hereditary trait.