Bicycle adventures on the 4th of July, Jax Beach-style

A little background for the uninitiated: the very best time to be had in Jacksonville, Florida on the 4th of July occurs on a bicycle, cruising the streets of the beaches. It is simply unlike anything you have ever experienced. Unless of course you have experienced it, but then you already know what I’m talking about. This clip will give you a feel for the scene. The mediocre quality of this video actually lends it that certain je ne sais quoi.

Watching this complete stranger’s home movie, I am reminded of just how much my life has changed since having kids…After all, I don’t remember the last time I actually partook in this type of bicycle-riding celebration of Independence Day. Actually, I do know that it was 8 years ago but that really doesn’t help me remember it any more clearly. I mean, this was eight looong years ago, before I swallowed my pride and became a “townie” for the sake of homeownership. Back then, the only house Crug and I could have afforded at the beach we would have had to share with flying cockroaches. (You can call them “palmetto bugs” all you want. You can try to make them sound fancy but I know the truth. Those mo-fo’s really do FLY!)

Let’s go back. July 4, 2003: Some friends and I are prepping to head out to ride bikes and drink and be obnoxious in general, but OH NO! We are short one bike. Enter Granny. If you are among the few who can actually boast that your grandmother still owns and uses a bicycle, then we have something in common. If said grandmother is also kind enough to let one of your friends borrow her bicycle, then consider yourself lucky like me.

So we are all appropriately outfitted with bikes now, cruising and making all of the requisite stops at parties and bars and enjoying all of the trashy sights along the way. Towards the end of the afternoon we take a break to refuel at a place I used to consider my home away from home, The Ritz. At this moment in time, I am in total new-love-can’t-keep-our-hands-off-of-each-other mode with Cruggers. I am guessing we were off making out in a corner somewhere. Meanwhile, my two BFF’s are sitting outside watching an interesting scene unfold. Some random guy was carefully extricating a raggedy, old, beat-up bike from the bottom of a large pile of newer bikes, and then he took off with it. My sweet gal pals think nothing of this and continue to enjoy their rum-runners.

Maybe an hour passes and we all prepare to leave, only to discover that Granny’s bike has been stolen…Instantly we are infuriated about this injustice. Seriously, who was the nerve to steal the bicycle of a grandmother?! Granted, the fact that the bike was owned by a Grandma was not clearly advertised on the tires, but still.

My BFF’s are kind-hearted by nature. They felt bad once they realized they had watched the entire theft happen. Both had true feelings of guilt over their severely-lacking detective skills. So the punishment agreement was that Cruggers and I would race home on our bikes and drive back with a car to pick up my girls and the one remaining bicycle. Did I mention that me and Crug were in the middle of that “I love you so much I don’t want to ever leave your side and I will always think your sweet morning face is adorable and you are the funniest person ever in the history of the world” phase? Um, yeah we were. It was honestly no major race to get back to the Hawaii-Five-O flunkies.

But we got back there eventually. Apparently my buds were a bit hungry after having been stranded at a bar for a few hours with nothing but rum and fruit garnishes to sustain their energy. It seems Crug and I enjoyed some popcorn on the way back to pick up the girls. Once we were all in the car and heading home, my buddies were delighting in the smell of the popcorn. They could practically taste it, they were so hungry. Alas, just like Granny’s bicycle, the popcorn was gone.

What can I say? Payback’s a bitch.