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The Bicycle Diaries by Jess K. '10

Like the motorcycle ones, except far less artsy and with a serious lack of Gael García Bernal.

1. So my sister bought me a bike. It’s a used bike, but it’s still red and shiny, and it works, and I need one because I live as far away from campus as you can possibly get. She rode it over last night and locked it up for me, after which we took the bus to Harvard to see a comedy show. We spent quality sister time together for a bit before I rode the bus back.

2. I am back at the student center, conveniently without my sister, and I find my bike. I take the key out, stick it in the lock, and yank. No luck. I brace myself against the bike rack and jerk the lock upwards, almost pulling the plastic part off the metal (it is a U-Lock, even though it’s chaining up a bike that was only $20). It is after midnight. A few people walk by and I wonder vaguely how much it looks like I am stealing this bike. I decide probably a lot, because even though I look like (and am) a fairly non-threatening awkward Asian girl I am yanking at a valuable chained object with a half-ripped “HARVARD POLICE DEPARTMENT” sticker on it. I continue to yank.

3. Victory! The lock comes off!

4. There’s a little black plastic part on the main bar of the bike where I assume the lock is supposed to go while you are riding the bike. Again, another good ten minutes (during which I probably could have made it home on foot) are spent trying to jam the lock into the holder.

5. “Hello?”
“Hey Unni, how are you supposed to put the lock in the holder?”
“You slide it in.”
“I am sliding it in.”
“Hold it so it looks like a U, not a horseshoe, and slide it in. There’s a notch.”
“It’s not sliding in.”
“You’re probably trying to jam it in. Slide it in.”
“I AM sliding it!”
“Do you see the notch? Slide the notch in.”
“I’M SLIDING THE NOTCH IN.”
“Hold it like a-”
“I AM SLI- oh, there’s a NOTCH. Thanks, Unni. Good night.”

6. I am riding hands-free. Literally. My hands have literally fallen off because I’ve forgotten that it is very cold in New England, especially in November, especially when you are riding at high speeds (read: < 5 mph, because I am having horrifying thoughts of smashing into sidewalks, cars, and New House since I haven’t ridden a bike in a few years)(Whoever invented the phrase “like riding a bicycle” has clearly never ridden a bike at one in the morning in East Coast weather after having spent twenty minutes wrestling with the lock), and I don’t have gloves yet because I come from a place where gloves are like a weird, unnecessary type of sock.

7. Remember when you drove (or when I drove, because you might still, but I no longer drive in college), and you parked your car, and all you had to do was press a button to lock your car and you were good to go? Parking a car was never my favorite part of driving, but parking a bicycle is an exponentially horrifying experience. So as I attempt to lock it up outside, another good ten minutes are spent simply releasing the lock (you press the notch and THEN slide this time), and then on opening the lock (I look less like I am stealing, since I’m only unlocking a lock that is locked to nothing, yet I still feel like the Harvard Police Department is going to spring out of a bush and detain me for stealing a bike lock). Then I realize that there is absolutely nowhere to lock it up, unless I lock it to another bike, with which I imagine the other owner would not be too pleased, or to a tree, which could probably be cut down if someone was really that insistent on stealing my $20 already-sketchy-looking bicycle. I resolve my issues for the night by taking it up to my room, effectively waking a disgruntled Mr. Neha, and going to sleep. I dream of a time where bicycles never need to be locked up, everyone got into MIT, and celestial bodies never got their planetary statuses revoked.

You know what would be cool? If you guys wrote me postcards. I would take pictures of them and post them in the blog, and it’d be like PostSecret, except it’d be PostQuestion, or just PostCard.. I was getting my mail today and almost fell to my knees in anguish because every time we ever get mail, it is always, ALWAYS for Mr. Neha. She is just so much more popular with the postal service. (I personally like Death Cab for Cutie better, but shh, they’re my guilty pleasure music.)(You don’t actually have to send me postcards, it’d just cheer me up after having lost my hands to severe wind chill.)

I promise the next post will be college essay-related, and I know you guys have already sent in your early action applications (GO YOU!), but I really just wanted to bring you a post dedicated to the fact that I am, indeed, the most ridiculous person alive.

16 responses to “The Bicycle Diaries”

  1. Sam Jackson says:

    Bicycle question: Are there non-permanent storage facilities for bikes in the winter? i.e…. a bike room where you could keep it out of the cold and snow but could then retrieve it for fashionable January riding? Follow-up: I don’t remember particularly well from anytime I’ve ever been on/near campus, but how good is MIT about bike racks? I feel like it was “pretty darn good.” Follow -up 2: You can register bikes with campus security so that if/when/were they to be ‘sotled’ you could maybe retrieve them, right?

    Just curious. ;P

  2. Christina says:

    Wait, you do know that Next has an indoor bike room that you can just throw your bike in, right? It’s right next to the stairs.

    ALSO, I think everyone should send postcards to ME (362 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA 02139) and I will write back to you with secrets about Jess Kim. They will be good secrets too, I promise. smile

  3. l0ngL says:

    u lock from dme?

  4. Jess says:

    Nono, nono, that was this post. Wait, did that not come across?!

  5. L says:

    Why are there no pictures? We want pictures, hussy!

  6. Mikey Yang says:

    Hahaha Jess your stories crack me up. I also enjoy your use of parentheses after parentheses…they’ve gotten so out of control that pretty much half your sentences are parentheticals! I love it. : D

  7. Josh says:

    I think about half the bike theives in Cambridge got nabbed the other day; I saw the CPs around some random Cambridge kids by the student center and a bunch of bike parts were next to them, so I’m assuming they got nabbed.

    And as for riding your bike around at 1 a.m. in New England… I basically did the same thing, but it involved walking across Harvard Bridge. If you want scary cold, that too is something to… experience.

  8. Keri says:

    Okay, people need to send mail not to Christina, but to me. I never get mail, unless it’s stuff I’ve bought on the Internet with the money I don’t have.

  9. Daniel W says:

    I had a similar problem locking up my bicycle. Just lock the u-lock around some part of the frame (I like locking it on the V where the bottom and top part of the frame meet at the front of the bike) when you’re not using it–it’s a lot quicker than using the slide/notch/holder thingy.

  10. Sofia Tania says:

    Your next post must be very interesting… not just because it will be about college admission essays, but also (and more importantly) because you’re going to show us how ridiculous you are raspberry

    Anyway, your blog has always been fun to read! smile Thanks for giving us unique insights to the life and academics at MIT.

  11. anonymous says:

    Congratulations Kim!!

  12. Colin says:

    Congratulations Kim!!!

    I don’t care if some anonymous person already did it. I missed my chance by like forty minutes, so I’m taking it anyway,

  13. Jess says:

    Sam – I’ll answer this in my next post. Sorry to make you wait, I just wanted to answer some of the smaller questions here.

    Stana – Yeah, but it’s hard to lock your bike up in there (you have to lift it up above your head), and I feel better about having it locked outside than sitting around inside.

    Long – nope! Different one. The DME lock was just for lockers.

    Daniel – you are a genius. Thanks.

    L – Because then you would know which one my bike is, and you would steal it.

    Mikey – I try. (Not really, it just happens.)

  14. anonymous says:

    Congratulations to Kim also!

  15. Omar '10 says:

    Great entry Jess. I need a bike too since I travel to the west side of the campus every day, so yeah… that’s a long walk.

  16. Joe T. says:

    …Should I feel bad for not knowing what we’re congratulating Jess for?

    Congrats on, uh…not…dying from sinuses or the flu or cholera or something. Yeah. *awkwardness*

    And hey, at least it wasn’t all rainy/drizzly that day…I think…