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Hi. Welcome to the podcast, "A Thousand Words", for Friday 28th September.
Well, the weather's slowly changing these days, and for some that means they'll soon park their bicycles away for the cold months ahead.
Today, that's what I'm going to talk about - bicycles.
Almost no one in southern California rides bikes. Or, no one did when I lived there. Maybe that's changed. Ok - children did. And those crazy downtown bike couriers. And people in races. And people trying to keep fit. But no one else! My point is, if you want to get somewhere, you drive - or you go with someone who drives.
I think most of us there stop riding when our driving licenses begin whispering  to us from the future. When we're 14 or 15, that's when we hear the voices. And that's when we start bugging  our parents to let us behind the wheel . And when we turn 16, we go to the DMV  to show them we can drive the streets with other drivers. So, our bikes then are mostly forgotten. They end up  in our cellars, the air slowly leaving the tires , spider webs hanging from their body.
When I first came to Zürich, I was surprised how many people I saw on bicycles. Women, the age of my grandmother, zipped  between bike lanes  and sidewalks ; people in suits 
were going to and from work; shoppers were bringing home food in their baskets; police were patrolling the side streets in short pants. The world all seemed to be on two wheels.
That first time, I didn't bring my bike. I left it at home. And I met Zürich mostly on foot. But the second time, my bike flew with me, in the cargo section. It was a mountain bike, one of the first things I bought after I moved up the coast to San Francisco. It cost 450 dollars, a fortune  at the time. But it was money well-spent, because in the city a car isn't practical. And like a honeymoon couple, the bike and I discovered  the city together.
So, we traveled to Europe. We planned to go to southern Spain and discover the land and its roads in the same way that we discovered San Francisco. But southern Spain, in summer, is nothing like the always breezy  San Francisco. But, I was in my early 20s then, Superman in my mind, and no one was going to tell me that I couldn't do whatever I set my mind to . Californian arrogance? Maybe just my own arrogance.
Spain is actually a story all by itself. Maybe one day I'll tell you about it. All I'll say is there was no breeze, and the temperatures got up to 40 degrees. I ran out  of food and water, and then energy. And in a dusty  village somewhere between Cordoba and Sevilla, I needed to be rescued by a man named Angel.
The bike and I survived , and we flew back home to San Francisco, tails between our legs . But we were closer now. We had history together, dirt on each other , stories only we two knew. And so when I moved to Switzerland permanently some years later, the bike came with me in a large wooden box.
And for over fifteen years, we rolled along the streets and forests and around the lake of Zürich as we had rolled along the streets and parks and along the beach of San Francisco. In winter, it rested in my cellar, scared of the icy roads and the frozen tram tracks . But when spring came, I blew the spider webs off and pumped the tires with fresh air. And out we two went again.
But my bike, sadly, is no longer with me. It grew very old at some point, its body became weak  and most of its parts needed to be replaced. It was suffering .
So, I took it on a walk, far from home. I know what you're thinking - how heartless! Yes. I know. Why not bring it to a professional and let them take it apart honorably , save what they could, give it a proper ending? But... I took it for a walk, a long walk, so it couldn't find its way back home. And like my father once did with our cat when I was a boy, I left the bike on the side of the street with a note that said 'gratis.' Well, my father didn't leave a note - he just stopped the car near the woods and let it out. He was allergic to cats. But the joke was on him because the cat found its way back home two days later, and my father gave up his idea and let the cat stay. My bike hasn't found its way back home. I imagine it was adopted by someone - a new owner, perhaps. I hope it isn't in some crazy man's cellar being tortured .
After that, I went bike-less for a couple of years. My legs lost their shape. I took public transportation everywhere. But so much of the city was lost to me. The trams and buses I rode took me on the same lines that showed me the same sights  month after month.
So, last month I decided it had been long enough, and I went to a bicycle market and bought a used bike from a man there from Basel - a cheap price because he didn't want to have to go back to Basel with it. It's a good bike. It does its job. And we're still getting to know each other . But... it's not the old one. I try not to compare the two. I try to be open-minded and to remember that each one is special in its own way. I try to give the new one a fair chance, a fresh start. I do my best not to criticize it too much when it doesn't make the turns as easily, or when the brakes  don't work as well.
We ride the Zürich streets and forests, and I don't compare the two. I don't know if it compares me with its last rider. But I don't.
I really don't.
But... clearly, it's not the old bike.
Thanks for listening.
You can find all our episodes on our website podclub.ch or by downloading our app. You can also download our vocabulary trainer, and you can follow me on Instagram using the hashtags #podclubrichard and #athousandwords.
I hope you enjoyed the episode and that you join me again on October 12th when I'll be talking about a special job I had a long time ago. Bye for now.