Tag Archives: buying bikes

Taking a ride down memory lane . . .

My new bike is here!!!! Yes!!!!! I freaking love it so much. And, as I was out riding today, I was thinking about the different bikes I’ve had throughout my life and my various levels of bonding with them. I shall now take you on a little ride down bicycle memory lane . . .

My first bike was a Huffy. If I remember correctly, it looked something like this. (Maybe it even was this model??) I DEFINITELY remember the banana seat. Also, when I grew out of this bike, I remember being SORELY disappointed that not all bikes had banana seats. This being my first bike, for a long time it meant that Huffys (Huffies? Huffy’s?) were the epitome of bikes to me. Oh, young naivete.

This picture is not mine. This is some stranger’s bike. However, it is a stand-in for the string of mountain bikes I had as I grew up and grew taller. These were the days of bikes being sized by the size of the tire. These bikes were the bikes you get from big box stores – Roadmasters, Huffies, Schwinns, etc. My dad rode this kind of bike. My brother road this kind of bike. I thought that this was pretty much it for a long time. I liked riding these bikes, and had phases where I would ride quite regularly. But eventually these bikes crap out, even with tune-ups. And they’re HEAVY. When Luke and I moved to Ohio, I was riding a bike much like this one pictured, and despite having tune-ups, it still would only shift when it felt like it, some gears were completely useless, and the chain liked to pop off on a semi-regular basis. It didn’t make the cut into the UHaul.

Then, bikeless and adjusting graduate school and life in the Midwest, I didn’t ride for a couple of years.

Then, last spring, I got this puppy:

I don’t really know how to explain what happened here. I got it used for about $100. Some weird sentimental craziness took me over and made me want a Huffy. I was also exceedingly nervous that I would be that one person who DOES forget how to ride a bike. I wanted to start as basic as possible. So I got this. Gold. A cruiser. One speed. Bulky. COASTER BRAKES. That’s right. The kind where you pedal backwards to stop the bike. I learned quickly that if you get going fast down a hill, you can STAND ON THESE FUCKERS WITH ALL OF YOUR WEIGHT and they won’t stop you.

It was fun for a while, especially as I was just beginning to ride again. But, everyone passed me on the bike path. I don’t think I could have been going much more that 8 miles an hour on this business. I wanted to make myself a t-shirt that read, “I don’t have gears!!!” to explain my crawl up hills. Cruisers are cute/fun for around town, but that’s about it. I bonded quickly with this bike, but over time the relationship went sour.

So, I did some research, went to a different used bike store, and came back with this:

A GT Palomar, purchased for about $180. I wanted a hybrid at the time, but they didn’t have any, so I went with this. Definitely a mountain bike, but it sat the rider a bit more upright, somewhat like a hybrid in terms of comfort. I fucking loved this bike. It was SO nice to have gears again! It still didn’t go very fast, being a mountain bike, but I really loved it. It was my first bike that was a brand you would purchase in a bike store, and I had never ridden anything of this quality before. As the guys at the bike store told me, “It’s not a KMart bike.”

Then my brother moved in with us, and he took over riding “The Golden Bicycle” (the Huffy cruiser). Luke also purchased a bike at this time. We were a riding family – until all of our bikes got stolen within a few weeks of each other. I was heartbroken when this bike got stolen. I’m not a crier, but I cried over that GT.

I went back to the used bike store, and got this bike for $165. It’s a Fuji Crosstown hybrid. It took me a while to get used to it. It was the first time I rode  a bike that didn’t have mountain bike wheels, and I was definitely a little wobbly. But, it had me at the test ride; I had no idea bikes could shift so smoothly! I was  still heartbroken about my GT, so it took me a while to warm up to this bike. But, I still have it, and I still love it. It really needs a tune-up, but it’s been a very reliable bike. I commute to school on this bike, and I think of it as my “pleasure craft.” Her name is All the Way Mae, because she’s versatile. (Yes, she is named after Madonna’s character in A League of Their Own.)

This summer I started off riding the hybrid exclusively, as it’s the only bike I had. But, as the summer wore on, as I’ve learned more about bikes, and as I look forward to the possibility of training and doing a distance ride next summer, it became clear that I would need a road bike. Good road bikes are NOT cheap, so I decided to start with an old, used one just to get the feel of a road bike.

Back to the used bike store I went:

It’s a 1977 Concord “Freedom Deluxe.” It was good to transition, and I got it for $165. The frame wasn’t really meant for someone my height (aka short), as you can see by the fact that I had to lower the seat so much that I was pretty much sitting on the top bar. And yes, I did have horrific visions of what might happen if I hit a bump or pothole and slid forward off of the seat! This was a good practice road bike, though it was never meant to take me on distance rides. I also had to stop riding it a few weeks ago, as its poor fit seemed to be exacerbating my knee pain. Physical therapist’s orders. Her name is Pippi. She’s being passed on to Luke.

And now, MY NEW BIKE!!!!!

Omg. It’s amazing. It’s a 2010 Fuji Newest 2.0. I got it on Thursday evening, and I’ve taken it on two good rides since then. I’ve definitely had to do some adjusting! The tires are SKINNY, so I’m currently a bit wobbly if I ride one-handed. Also, the hand brakes on the curved part of the handle bars double as the gear shifts, and the front and rear derailleurs are the opposite of each other, so the first ride included a fair amount of shifting improperly and making embarrassing noises on the bike path. But, I’m getting the hang of it! This bike is FAST. And we’re already thoroughly bonded. I’m still trying to choose a name. Right now I’m leaning toward Cayenne. Or maybe Paprika. Suggestions welcome.

Wow. That was long. In other news, I need to bite the bullet and make the full switch to the padded spandex bike shorts. My butt would be happier, and puffy athletic shorts just look silly with cycling jerseys!

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Road Bike Blues

I got the blues.

The road-bike blues.

I got the my-knee-done-broke-down-and-I-can’t-ride-my-road-bike blues.

I got the my-knee-done broke-and-I-can’t-ride-my-road-bike-and-I’m-broke-as-a-joke-and-I-can’t-afford-a-new-one blues.

Okay. Admittedly, that might be a bit dramatic.

So, I saw the physical therapist today. She twisted my knee all around, had me do some exercises, did some electrotherapy and said that it’s my ligament that’s hurting. (NOT my meniscus, which is a good thing.) The issue is that she doesn’t know *why* it’s hurting. It could be a number of things, but none of them are clearly the cause. It could be that I have a fairly high arch and my shoes aren’t supportive enough, but she doubts it (because it’s really pretty normal). It could be that I have (insert fancy medical term here), which means my knees hyper-extend a bit and my knee caps go in a bit, but she says it’s fairly common in women and it’s not bad enough to explain the knee pain.

It could be from the incident earlier this summer where a pedestrian forced me to fall over with my bike to avoid hitting them. She said I might have tweaked my knee when that happened and it could have causes some scar tissue to build up on the ligament, which is now hurting. It could also be because my current road bike doesn’t fit me very well. The knee pain started fairly shortly after switching to that bike. So, she wants me to lay off the road bike (I can still ride my hybrid) until I see her again next week to see if that makes a difference.

So for now, it’s exercises, no road bike, avoiding lots of stairs, trying not to bend my knee more than 90 degrees, and we’ll wait and see. She might also do an ultrasound next week to break up any scar tissue that might be in there. We’re going to give it a few weeks, and if the pain doesn’t go away, she’ll have me see the sports med doctor.

I don’t think it’ll come to that, though. The electrotherapy actually helped a bit; no aching at all when I got off my bike or after walking around campus.Win!

This does mean I’m right about the fact that I can’t stick with my current road bike long term. The good news is that my parents offered to lend me some money toward a new road bike. I’m still not positive I’ll be able to swing the rest, but it at least puts it in the realm of the possible. I’m going to test ride a couple of Fujis this weekend, check out the fit of them, etc.

And yes. That is a Blues Brothers cycling jersey.

My bubble has been decimated.

Disappointed?

Yeah. Me too.

Bad, bad news. It looks like our car needs about $2000 of work. We have to get it done, because we need the car to get to our obligations (i.e. work, meetings, etc.). It’s worth it to put the money into the car, but it sucks. It sucks a lot.

It means being really frugal this quarter. It means not going to the National Women’s Studies Association annual conference, and thus, not seeing a couple of my closest friends whom I sorely miss. It means being more anxious about money than we already are.

But what does this have to with cycling?

It also means no new road bike. At least, not for a while. I wanted to buy it this quarter because I could get it at such a great discount. And, realistically speaking, I need a new road bike if I’m going to do distance rides next summer. I need one that fits me so that I don’t injure or strain anything while riding. And I need one in time to train, which means I need it by next spring. But next spring, they may no longer have the discounted 2010 models. So, I’m not sure what I’ll do.

I’m incredibly disappointed. I can’t even find the words. There’s the deep disappointment, of course, that not getting the bike brings. I had been looking forward to this for months. But then, there is (was) the symbolism of allowing myself to spend $800 on a new road bike.

– The purchase of the bike was a grand reward for working incredibly hard to balance grad school and self-care, to take care of myself and my body despite being in a setting that does not really promote self-care or balance.

– The purchase of the bike was symbolic of the excitement of actually being so dedicated to a sport, to finding an athletic activity that I do because I really love it and am passionate about it.

– The purchase of the bike was representative of my commitment to cycling and dedicating time to something that I love – to something that I do out of sheer enjoyment, something really for myself now. In this moment.

– The bike was to be representative of working toward a goal on so many levels – cycling in a healthy way, making time for something that makes me feel so good regardless of the constant pressures of grad school to work all the time, dedicating the money from my graduate teaching fellowship to the bike as a symbol of my commitment to this and to keeping this in my life.

And, intellectually speaking, I know that not purchasing this bike as planned doesn’t mean any of these things will fall by the wayside. I can still be excited about cycling (though at this very moment it’s hard to feel anything but disappointment). I can still be serious about cycling. I can remain determined to keep it as a part of balanced self-care. I can still be a part of the cycling community in Columbus.

Intellectually, I still know that all of those things are true. Emotionally, this is a severe blow.

Back in the Saddle

Well, well, well. Hello again. I’ve been absent because I was on a most wonderful vacation. First, Luke and I went to visit my family in Maine. It included seeing their new house and new companion animals (Johb the dog and Maybe the cat), seeing every member of my mom’s side of the family, and seeing my brother and meeting his new boyfriend. It also included multiple trips to Farmington (my undergrad town/school) and Nezinscot Farm, and lots of lake swimming for Luke, while I stayed happily warm and dry. Luke also got to go visit his mom in New Hampshire, which included lots of 4-wheeling. (I’ve already assured him that, yes, when we move back to Maine and have some land, we can get a 4-wheeler.) After Maine, we went to stay for a night at Farm Sanctuary, in upstate New York. It was an amazing experience, and we’re both hoping to go back for longer next year. it’s located in Watkins Glen, NY, and it looks like there’s a pretty stellar state park there. That part of the trip included a lovely little cabin, pigs, cows, goats, rabbits, roosters, hens, sheep, cats, turkeys, vegan soft-serve ice cream, and a freaking delicious vegan continental breakfast.

One thing my vacation did not include? Cycling. Sadness. This was for a number of reasons:

A) Luke and I have yet to have the money to splurge on a bike rack that is sturdy enough to take our bikes from Ohio to Maine. However, this will happen before next year. We’re determined.

B) The bike that was most readily available for me was my Dad’s 10-year old Roadmaster mountain bike. Even though I’ve become a bit of a bike snob (I admit it), I debated giving it a shot. But then Dad mentioned that “You can’t go very far before the chain pops off;” I decided to steer clear, since cycling is something I do to increase enjoyment in my life, not frustration.

C) The ladder on my aunt and uncle’s raft shanked me on the first day of my visit, slicing my foot open in a way that made it too painful to put pressure on it. This would have made peddling a challenge. (It actually still hurts a bit to pedal now, though it’s more of an annoyance than pain.)

Hence, circumstance dictated that I go without cycling for about 10 days.  I.freaking.missed.it. I was very much looking forward to my bike ride yesterday, our first full day home. However, I was also having a really hard time being back in Columbus. Columbus is a pretty neutral place. It’s not the best place I’ve lived (that would be Maine), but it’s certainly not the worst. It’s just that – I’m not a city girl. And after 10 days of small towns in Maine and upstate NY, I found being back in a city jarring and alienating, to say the least. I’m also not particularly suited to the Midwest, or sub(urban) sprawl with all of its concrete and cars. I hoped my bike ride would help, and would make me feel a bit more connected to nature (via the bike path). But, as much as I love cycling, it’s not a panacea. Hoping that my bike ride would somehow magically transform central Ohio into central Maine was perhaps a bit too much to ask of my favorite hobby. Also, the bike path was crammed with decked-out Buckeye fans who were biking to the football game yesterday. They weren’t quite of this caliber:

But some were close. That wasn’t super helpful in terms of needing some healing/magic via cycling. (However, in retrospect, the scene of these fans on bikes is pretty freaking amusing, and I may take my camera to the bike path before the next home game. Maybe. If I need some adventure. But probably not.)

Today’s ride was much better. I felt back in my cycling groove, and the ride was very enjoyable. I even decided to ride on the streets on my way home. (I also had the experience of getting run into the shoulder by a motorcycle. I shall now be purchasing my “3 Feet Please” backpack, since school’s starting up so I’ll be commuting more.)

I also arrived home to find that the bike that I want has finally dropped in price since they’re phasing out the 2010 models. I need this bike because asap  because I’m slightly concerned about my right knee. I seem to have pulled a muscle, and I suspect that it’s because my current road bike doesn’t fit me as well as it could. However, I’m not sure that it’s completely that because it started hurting about a week before I went on vacation, and taking time off from cycling didn’t fix it. I’m getting my doctor to check it out on Wednesday.

Right now, for my new bike, I’m planning on getting a 2010 Fuji Newest 1.0, which is a nice entry-level road bike. (Family, don’t freak out. I’ll be paying about half of the listed price. My extra fellowship should pretty much cover the cost – yay!) It’s a lot of bike for the price, and it’s gotten good reviews. Also, supposedly the Tiagra shifters are a “must,” and they perform well for a long time. I haven’t gotten to test ride one yet. I’m hoping to go to Performance Bicycle within the next week or two to try one out. Fingers crossed! I’m also toying with the idea of a Specialized Dolce Elite, but it’s a bit pricier (and I’d only remotely consider it if I could get it on an insane end-of-year sale) and I don’t like the styling as much, so hopefully the Fuji will work. I certainly love my Fuji Crosstown hybrid; I think of that bike as my pleasure craft, while my road bike means business. And my new road bike will mean even more business!

If any of you have any thoughts and/or reviews on road bikes, cycling, or life in general, I’d love to hear!