Instead of a bell I have my brakes

Most mornings I run, but sometimes I bike down to the ocean instead. There’s a 14 mile loop that I just can’t get enough of– bombing down the slight hill through Golden Gate Park, I get my adrenalin rush before I hit the glorious ocean. Emerging out of the cold, temperate rainforest of Golden Gate Park, I’m often met with blinding sunshine and the mirage of the Pacific Ocean– I honestly feel like I’m in a scene of a corny movie where someone slowly walks into heaven. It’s a great way to start the day.

But this morning more than sunshine and waves made me smile. Turning left where the Great Highway meets JFK Drive– the gate to this so-called heaven– I decided to stop and take off a layer. Immediately after stopping a woman ran up to me and asked, “Courtney, are you okay?!” For those of you who have never seen my bike, it’s hard to miss. Bright teal with pink handle bars, neon brake cords and a mini personalized license plate, you can see me coming a mile away (and also learn my name without a formal introduction). You can also hear me coming before I’m in sight– a shrill screech an octave or two below a dog whistle, the sound of my brakes travels far, an indicator that I am on my way.

Pinpointing this jarring noise to me and my bike, a beach walker ran over to me concerned that something was wrong– the sound of my brakes made her think that my bike broke as I was closing in on the Great Highway, like if a car were driving down a hill with no brakes. I laughed and told her not to be concerned. Despite being replaced several times, my brakes work– kind of, as long as I triple the braking distance– and I just stopped to take off a layer. I then thanked her for caring.

This city makes me smile every day.