Monday, July 2, 2007

Pedal Power

Time in the Northwest always fills my head with noble ideas. I'll give up wheat and dairy! Use homeopathic ointment on my sprained ankle rather than go to the doctor (I fell down some stairs in Laramie on June 3 and the damn thing is still swollen and painful)! Read lots of nonfiction!

I tackle these ideas with various degrees of enthusiasm. So far I've reduced wheat and dairy, avoided my doctor out fear of some kind of splint, and purchased three nonfiction titles.

But all these pale in the face of my latest idea.

I want to buy a bike.

OK, you can stop laughing now. I mean it. Stop laughing.

This town is lousy with bike trails. All the main streets have bike lanes. There's lots of shade. And just think..when I get back to Texas and find myself shy one ingredient for a recipe, I'll be able to hop on the bike and pedal the three miles to the store rather than fire up the minivan (at least I'll do so during the four or so months of temperate weather). DYR will be so proud!

The bike idea has been simmering for a while, but it hit the boil a couple of weeks ago when I took small child to buy her first pair of soccer shoes at Joe's (last time I was here it was called G.I. Joe's...guess the military association wasn't working for them any longer). Parked out front was the most fetching pink girlie bike. Not a girl's bike, but a grownup model. "Hmmmm," I thought, "isn't that a cute little number! And so reasonably priced. No sales tax here in Oregon, remember."

But those of you who know me know that the only things I buy on impulse are earrings. I've been mulling and stewing and pondering. I want to buy a bike I'll enjoy. My last bike was a disappointment. And when did I last have a bike in my life? The seventies.

They called them "ten speeds" or, in my neck of the woods for some reason, "English racers." These bikes - and only a couple of brand names qualified as cool, although I can remember neither of them - were tall and thin and sleek and by my family's standards expensive. And I really, really wanted one.

My parents were Depression children, older than my friends' parents, and almost pathologically frugal. They were also big on Sears. So when the bike finally arrived, it did not bear one of the cool brands. It was the Kenmore of the cycling world. But that was not the worst of it. Oh, no. I'm short, and I was even shorter then, maybe an Amazonian 5' 1.5". When my mother, similar of stature, saw the regular bikes at Sears and sat on them she thought they were far too big, dangerously so, and purchased a "youth bike."

My humiliation was complete.

Of course, no one ever said anything about this. In fact, the bike was probably the right size for me. But it was soooooo not cool, and the gears never did work correctly, and riding it never brought the joy I'd sought. I was always chugging along behind the other neighborhood kids, and while I now know that was a function of my far shorter legs, in my teen mind it was the bike's fault.

Fast forward over 30 years. Infomaniac that I am, I sat down today to do a little bit of research on bike buying. I feel like a stereotypical sitcom senior citizen trying to program a VCR. So many bikes! Road! Mountain! Hybrid! Comfort! Cruising! And, thanks to the web, each one is the only one I should buy. Rest assured. This is not a mid-life crisis bike. I'm not trying to heal the wounds of the past in any way. I don't want to break the bank. I'm not trying for hipness, and I want to be able to walk the next day. And I am overwhelmed by the choices

So I'm throwing it out to you. Here's what I want to do on my bike: ride on (almost always) paved trails or roadways, ride around town, maybe take a day ride once in a while. I want enough gears that I don't have to work particularly hard on hills (not that I'll find many in North Texas) but not so many that I need an instruction book. Speed is not paramount. Reliability is a plus. Please send your suggestions.

And here's hoping I haven't forgotten how to ride one!


Sandy said...

Well, I live in Oregon, and that is the coolest bike EVER! Now I want one! I used to live in Indiana/Illinois and rode my bike everywhere. It was flat there. Not so in Oregon. I tried to ride a bike shortly after I moved here and almost had a heart attack.

That bike makes me want to try again. Thanks for sharing.

L. said...

Oh, girl... you said the magic word... BIKE... M. would LOVE to help you make that decision (Big M, that is)!

bluelikethesky said...

Thanks for your comments, L and Sandy! As you can see I've made the purchase. I actually called you today, L, and M answered the phone and was quite helpful. I almost bought the Trek Navigator that you have, but went to one more shop and changed my mind.

We can take some old lady cruises when I get back.