Wednesday
Apr092008

« Wheels »

Today I rode my bike to work. It took about 18 minutes each way. Gas is certainly starting to do what I've been anticipating (since 2004) it would do. Gasoline at my usual pump is now at about $3.63 and rising daily. While I never had a particular threshold which would make me choose to bike more, it just worked out well enough for me to try this now. (Today's decision was made in part because one of our employees had his truck broken into. I had been warned that the area was prone to that, but it was the first of its kind that I saw.) Now that the shift I work is placed squarely in daylight hours, and requires only a few miles of pretty flat surface roads, I felt that maybe it was time to try on an old coat, so to speak. After all, prior to about 1993, I biked to get most everywhere I routinely had to go—usually school and some of my early jobs. All that changed as my grandparents aged and as I got a girlfriend who lived ten miles away from me back then. When my grandfather gave me the Ford Escort wagon he was retiring, I was hooked into driving. After that, I kept my bike for a while then eventually gave it away.

anachronistic photo of my blue Nirve bike with extensive rebuilt components. rides nicer than ever.It wasn't until 2003 when I bought another bike in order to help get a bit of exercise to help battle depression. That bike was sort of a cheap reentry into biking; I haven't been particularly rough with it but it has had a rough time. At my apartment a few years ago I parked it outside and the back wheel was stolen. The repairman was about to craft a replacement out of parts at a price that suited the bike and its original value, but since then I've had a spoke or two break, and the wheel is tweaked. The shifter-derailer has a few glitches that bug, and always at the wrong time.

I've found myself visiting bike stores in recent months, scanning the market for what is out there. It's pretty dizzying, and a far cry from what I knew as a kid. When I was a kid, everyone wanted a BMX type. I could have named that type and "road bike" or ten-speed as the varieties on offer. I had a few BMX bikes, but none as specialized as the stuff available now. I was about 13 when I got the first of a series of mountain bikes—most pretty cheap pieces of shit, but ones that made my world a bigger place. The best one was the last one I had before the car—a Specialized model, probably a Rock Hopper or something. (I had a problem with either having bikes stolen, or in an instance or two, giving them away to friends whom I thought might need them more than me, usually offering a nice cheap price but eventually getting nothing in payment.)

Now I go to stores and I don't even really know what to ask for, not being a real dedicated rider. Most of the time, a mountain bike style or comfort bike style will do just fine. I am not barreling down hills and stuff, nor scaling them. I don't really like front forks with shocks. I'm a traditionalist in that regard. Then again, there is the matter of cost. It's all made in China anyway, so I have to decide whether it's better to spend for now (in which case I could just keep my present bike for all the riding I do on that) or for the future, which, say might be worth $600 to me—about a week's pay, and no gas or insurance. I found one eight speed which was fun to ride, and only about $300 but it left me wondering if that would be versatile enough given that San Diego is so hilly. I sort of toy with the idea of single speed models too because once upon a time that was enough to get me where I was going, but they are rather ironically more expensive than their 21- and 24- speed brothers (on account of being more of a novelty). Part of me wants to get a larger BMX type so I can relive my jumping and wheelie-ing days of yore, but maybe that's silly. But for $300 maybe I'd do it.

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