It took about two weeks for riding the bus to get old. Not that I mind taking the bus. I love mass transit for hearing slang (“Mac” for "Macarthur Boulevard"), music (on the bus to my high school in Sweden, techno; here, almost always hip hop) talk among people who may or may not know each other (business advice, life advice), young moms in Baby Phat managing shopping bags, stuffing sandwiches in the babies’ mouths and schoolkids on their way to McDonald’s rambling, ragging on each other and sharing (or not sharing) candy—but after my a bus ride that made me fifteen minutes late for a meeting that I had timed myself to be early for, I was more than a little dubious about AC Transit.
No matter how tired or unmotivated I’m feeling, I always feel better after I jump on my bike. It helps to know that I’m going somewhere. Plus, my bike is finally outfitted for the city: I changed out my quick-release skewers on my wheels for bolt-ons and finally got a U-lock, which means I don’t have to stuff my six-foot-long cable and Master lock in my purse when I go out anymore. The U-lock is just about as heavy, but it fits in a pocket, or I can hang it on a handlebar.
Riding to school for the first time went smooth as could be. It was sunny and just breezy enough to dry the sweat accumulating under my helmet. To get out to Mills, I rode downtown (easy, I’m used to that), around the lake that barricades the center of town (I’ll have to remember that riding through the tunnel was a lot better at night when there were no cars out), and a long stretch out International Boulevard. My ears, eyes and nose tried to keep up with my fast-pedaling legs to take in all of the sensations. True to its name, International is home to numerous Southeast Asian markets—excelling especially in Korean baked goods and produce—plus pho joints, mobile taquerias and an enormous Goodwill.
The ride home—during which I took a fat detour through Eastlake and wound the long way around the lake—ended up taking the same amount of time as riding the delayed bus, and I’m getting to know my way around parts of Oakland that I haven’t really seen yet. More and more pieces of the city fall into place as I cycle loops around my days.