Our Bicycle Friendly Community

Our Bicycle Friendly Community, as published in Tahoe Mountain News:

By Victoria Ortiz

Mindy and I on a bike tour through SF and Marin

Mindy and I on a bike tour through SF and Marin

Our friendly bicycle community has a louse amongst us. Fortunately, this den of fragrant pines and recycled ice water also breeds heroes, and thus an everyday Knight’s Tale was conceived.

The scoundrel, unnamed, unknown, armed with cable cutters and a subdued ethos, found his prey on a sunny July Sunday. Her name was Mindy, a mint green road bike recently introduced to its mountainous palace from the Bay Area via Craigslist and a Thule rack.

A red helmet perched on her hammerhead handlebars when I locked her to a dulled bike rack near the Y.

She and I had become fast friends the last couple months. Equipped with a stick of deodorant, we charged the shortcuts of South Lake to work and grocery outlet, up Ebbett’s Pass, and shared regular sunsets at Lakeview Commons.

I researched and scanned the Internet for the perfect touring/commuting bike for six months like an eager online dater. She was the first bike on which I spent more than eighty bucks and she was destined for great adventures.

All of those details cycled through my mind as I stared at the discarded helmet, no trace of cable or Mindy in the empty parking lot. She was gone like the sun-drunk spill of a Nalgene in the Mojave Desert.

But, dear neighbors, I am a fighter and an optimist, and that evening I filed a police report, sent out a mass Mint-Alert email, created flyers for the lost bike, and even posted to my sparse Facebook page.

Bike thieves belong in Dante’s sixth level of Hell, and the following morning I felt the sour surge of distrust flowing through my eyes at every biking passerby. Then, the phone call.

“I’ve got your bike!” said the ecstatic, slightly out of breath voice. “I’ll drop it by your office now.”

At 10:30am, less than 24 hours after her bike napping, Mindy was safely leaning on my desk, completely intact minus the bike lights. The hero, my now-boyfriend, saw Mindy lying at the feet of a teenage boy standing outside the Verizon store on Highway 50. He pulled in and parked.

“Look kid, I’m not calling the cops, but I’m taking that bike,” (I picture a flourish of a Superman cape here).

“Aw, I just bought it,” the kid protested weakly.

Lies or truth I know nor care, but you can bet that I bought a Kryptonite U-lock a few days later.

Mindy remains my faithful steed, leaving my car to collect pine needles. This story could have ended differently in a big city, but in our bicycle friendly community, happy endings do come true.

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My drug of choice

My journal pages always get more ink when I’m on a plane. Maybe because looking down onto a mosaicked landscape with the meditative buzz of engines makes me reflect on where I am and where I’m going (and, often, where I’ve been).

“From this high you also get a good view of who you are.” The Nature Valley magazine ad rings true whether on a plane or hanging on a rope hundreds of feet above a sea of trees and granite.

Tyler and I on top of Fairview Dome, Yosemite

Tyler and I on top of Fairview Dome, Yosemite

IvaBellHotSprings

Iva Bell Hot Springs, a 13 mile trek into the heart of granite bodies with forested skirts

I’ve been taking advantage of a mostly-healed back by verb-ing every chance I get and relapsing with my drug of choice: endorphines. Mountain biking overlooking Lake Tahoe, dancing in the streets of Boston, backpacking to remote hot springs in Mammoth, the adventures hardly seem to fit within the confined weekend walls of my Outlook calendar. My vacation balance hovers around zero, and for good reason – life is too short not to explore!

A montage of beautiful memories and sensations frame this summer: the taste of Cheezits and Ukrainian champagne while watching the sun set into the Grand Canyon, the shaky legs and exhilarating heart-thump while climbing up 1000 feet of granite, and the full-body shock of jumping into many a snow-fed alpine lake stark naked.Grand Canyon

It’s not all sunsets and teva-clad unicorns (though it mostly is). On my last international escapade to Colombia I brought back a stowaway. The intestinal parasite spent the next few months making sure that I dropped weight like Galileo’s gravity experiment with a bowling ball. Thank you modern medicine for removing my need to instantly catalog the nearest bathroom or bush.

I also acquired a new family member. Her name is Mindy and I found her on the San Francisco Craigslist. I named her after her mint-green frame and ride her almost every single day. She is, of course, my new bike!

Mindy and I on a bike tour through SF and Marin

Mindy and I on a bike tour through SF and Marin

We’ve already experienced the pain of separation (she was stolen in July) and the joy of reunion (my boyfriend found her within 24 hours!). We’ve become well acquainted on daily commutes, during a bike-tour near San Francisco, and up a few mountain passes in California and Nevada.

When V gets boredTonight, on the eve of becoming a quarter-century young, I want to thank each of you for your hugs (because I don’t know how you could avoid that with me), laughter (again, unavoidable) and constant inspiration to savor this time on our most remarkable planet.

I also hope that this serves as a reminder that I’ve been waiting all year for your birthday song, especially if it’s off key.

Love and chocolate cake,
V