One lesson I keep relearning is that you can’t work too hard to make things happen. You can put your shoulder into something only so much. After that, other factors must play a role. Nowhere in my life is this more true than with Capital Bikeshare‘s elusive Bike In Bloom.
In concert with the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., Capital Bikeshare releases the one and only Bike In Bloom into the wild to join the rest of the fleet’s 3,700 bikes. Many attempt to find and ride this bike, yet only a few succeed.
What makes the bike so special, you ask? First, let me reiterate, there is only one. And it’s pink. Reflective pink, I might add. Oh, and it has flowers on it, too. Finally, Bike In Bloom only rolls among us for a brief period each year. It still rides like a regular three-speed Bikeshare bike, though, so it’s sort of like being perched on a pink riding lawnmower, but not as noisy.
Despite fervent searching for this sparkling pink beast over the years, I have only ridden it one other time. That was two years ago, and I wrote about it here. As Bikeshare has expanded, the number of places in the metropolitan area where the Bike In Bloom could be docked has also grown, making it an even trickier bike to find.
I succeeded in tracking the Bike In Bloom down at a particular station last year, via Tweets and Instagram posts, and ran almost two miles on an early Saturday morning to go for a spin on it. Alas, it was locked in a dock that refused to release it. After that letdown, I resigned from hunting for pink treasure.
This Friday, with the Cherry Blossom Festival winding down and peak blossom upon us, I wound my way around the Tidal Basin and decided at the last minute to check out peak tourist on the Mall. I didn’t know then what prompted me turn my wheel that direction, as I rarely take this route.
I know now. It was the hand of fate, steering the bicycle toward my destiny. As I meandered along Jefferson Drive, checking out the Friday evening scene, my glance fell upon the Bikeshare station outside the Smithsonian Metro stop. A strip of pink gleamed back at me.
But wait, could it be? I looked again.
The Bike In Bloom stood like a zinnia in a field of marigolds. I veered my bike off the street as quickly as I could. Operation Bike In Bloom was now in session. I avoided running over any tourists, although I definitely did not move as mindfully as I would have in a less critical situation.
My hands shook slightly as I hastily inserted my Bikeshare key to undock the bike. Was it a dream? Was this really going to happen? Would the pink beast be mine, for just a little while? I hoped and hoped the bike would release from the dock.
Ding, green light! Out the bike came. This created a bit of an issue because I then realized that I had two bikes, the Bike In Bloom and my own bike, which was carrying all of my essential belongings from the day. I had not really thought my plan through in this regard, since the plan only consisted of “ride Bike In Bloom now!”
I asked a tourist who had paused to ask if I needed help to hold the Bike In Bloom for me for just one second, while I leaned my regular bike against a nearby tree. I tried to tell her what a unicorn the Bike In Bloom was, but she just looked back at me, nodding her head amicably, as if my words and actions were making no sense to her.
I suppose it is a little strange to rent a bike when you are already riding a bike. No matter, though. This is the city! People can be eccentric and it’s totally fine.
I then realized that I didn’t have to take the bike on a tour of the city or anywhere, really. I could just ride it around the area, and simultaneously keep an eye on my real bike. The great thing about Bike In Bloom – especially in this case – is that it isn’t as if a person rides Bike In Bloom or Bikeshare for that spectacular ride feel. My regular bike is a much nicer ride. Staying near my real bike would not be an issue.
I rode circles in a grassy area along the Mall, taking pictures and soaking in the Friday night tourist vibe. No one paid me any attention, except a friend who passed by and paused to chat and talk yoga for a bit. Nobody seemed to know or care that I had unlocked the greatest Bikeshare treasure that ever existed.
Being limited to riding in this vicinity also exposed me to how many tourists ride Bikeshare. More than I knew! During my 90 minutes near the Smithsonian Metro stop, there was regular movement of Bikeshare bikes in and out of the docks. It was so heartening to see.
Daylight waned and I called Felkerino to come meet me. He rode up and also took a spin on the pink unicorn. We had a grand time steering the Bike In Bloom around the area.
No one at all approached us about the bike or why it was different from the other red bikes, despite our obvious enthusiasm. Or perhaps because of it, who can say?
After Felkerino replaced it, he tried to tell a couple who were about to use Bikeshare that the Bike In Bloom was a special bike, and they should ride it because it is the ONLY one in the entire Bikeshare fleet and it is ONLY available for a very limited time.
The two were completely unimpressed and rode away on matching marigold Bikeshare bikes. But why would you choose a marigold if you could have a zinnia?
Felkerino and I rode home on our regular bikes, and I soared over the moon about our Bike In Bloom experience for the remainder of the evening.
What’s meant to be will be, I was reminded. You can’t force destiny, even when you are certain that your destiny is a burly pink bike with flowers on it.