I Wish I Could Ride A Bike As Effortlessly As People Do In Music Videos

They make it look so easy.

The other day, I was transporting three cartons of marigolds on my basket-less bike’s handlebars when one carton capsized and cruel gravity brought my flowers out of their dirt. There is no disconnect quite like the one that exists between what I think I can do while riding my bike vs. my actual cycling reality. I blame my hubris and resulting failure on, if you can believe it, music videos. I am perpetually trying to carry a trumpet or wear a dress on a bike, as I have previously seen set to my favorite music, only to have my hopes dashed when I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirrored surface or make eye contact with someone who I have horrified. Here are some of the videos, if you will have them, that haunt me with a brazen misunderstanding of bikes and unreasonable aspirations as to my appearance while riding.

“What’s A Girl to Do?” by Bat for Lashes (2004)

Most Haunting Unattainabilites:

  • Riding with a large group that generally maintains the same pace as you
  • Biking in the dark of night with no lights and no apparent fear of law enforcement enforcing the law against not using lights in the dark of night
  • Cycling without a helmet

These are the feelings and aptitudes I seek when I am cutting through an unlit Prospect Park at 10pm, filled with fear after watching 2/3 of Lifetime’s Who Killed JonBenét but then deciding to leave to go to an acquaintance’s party.

“Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae (2006)

Most Haunting Unattainabilities:

  • Riding on a sunny day without sweating
  • Not needing to lock your bike when you gets off of it to put ribbons in trees(?)
  • Being dressy on a bike with no additional gear, not even a helmet

In my mind, I am CBR, but in reality, I am riding my bike through Industrial Maspeth, Queens, sweating through a bra I unfairly promised myself I would never wear on a day I am going to sweat (every day).

“Goat Hurt” by No Age (2007)

Most Haunting Unattainabilities:

  • The roller skater high five at 0:45 expresses an unspoken camaraderie with other wheeled beings
  • When he drums on the handlebars…!
  • No helmets still

Once, I saw a cyclist whiz down Metropolitan Avenue, throw his head back, and scream-sing, “Today is the greatest,” from the Smashing Pumpkins song “Today” (1993), and even this moment wasn’t all that enjoyable in the end because I know it sounds made up when I try to tell other people.

“Side to Side” by Ariana Grande (2016)

Most Haunting Unattainabilities:

  • Siri search “how to look sexy while riding bike????”
  • The Ariana-style hi-pony (unattainable at all times but especially would be impossible…
  • …if she were wearing a helmet and not a custom hat!)

The one time I went to SoulCycle, the instructor had me sit in the front so she could guide me, and at one point she thanked me for giving 100% and then said “…SIKE!”

“Cash Machine” by D.R.A.M. (2016)

Most Haunting Unattainabilities:

  • Having almost no issues shooting stuff into the air while biking
  • Having enough money that shooting it into the air is a viable option
  • Again, using a hat as a helmet

Last fourth of July, I rode my bike around Governor’s Island and threw grapes, one at a time, into the air for my friend who was riding behind me to catch in her mouth, but she didn’t catch a single one because “I” was “bad” “at throwing???” Then, when we were back, we rode through residential Brooklyn and passed a girl who was doing braids like a lemonade stand but for hair and she gave me a braid crown for only $6, and okay, okay, yeah, that’s pretty cinematic I see your point. 🙂

Jenny Nelson lives, writes, and performs in Brooklyn.