Saturday
Jan172009

« My Other Car »

ed's sleek new commuter bike with flowing tubing curves and a very black and silver aestheticGlobe San Francisco from SpecializedMy other car is one of these:

(Or, if you like, you can look at the manufacturer's spiffy photo.)

I finally did it. I've been staking out one of these bikes for a few months now. After committing to biking to work most of the time and spending a lot to get my older 21 speed bike fixed and upgraded, and finding it fun and good to ride, I plunked down the several hundred and went with it. This time, I wanted to do something different and avoid the overly-complex mechanisms that go with multispeed bikes. (Indeed that was part of the pain in the ass on the old bike, until I finally replaced all the drivetrain after attempts to tune it up. Now it works great, but it is still more than I need for some rides, including my relatively short commute of three miles or so.) There were three- and eight- speed models for hundreds more and hundreds more than that, but I bit the bullet and got the single speed and decided to tough it out with one glorious gear. This way it evokes the simplicity that my BMX style bikes had long ago.

I've ridden it just two days, but already have fearlessly taken on some of the hills I have not done even on the 21 speed. The ride is crisp and quick like nothing else I have had. I like to feel the road beneath me so a number of factors led me to this bike as I decided to leave behind the dirt-ready models. The tires are a hybrid between the high pressure and minimal tread of road bikes, but with a bit more of a footprint. I hate suspension forks and all that gimmickry so I had to search a while for one without them. It is the first bike I've had with disk brakes. The jury is still out on how I like them. They work well, but I think they need a bit of setup. Later on I shall get a rack so I can carry some stuff on the commute. I don't want to bulk this up if I can help it; it is light as a feather right now.

This month at work looked to be a weak one so people were asked to take a four day week if possible. I didn't go for that and held out until they came to me and said they'd let me have five days but the shift would have to be the 6 am shift instead of my normal 10 am shift. So that demanded a bit of change but it is nice to get out in the mid afternoon. My annual date was this week and I am pleased to report on a successful year there. The last time I worked this early was the first week of my employment. (That was detailed in a post from that period, but for this entry's purposes, suffice to say that I had a problem with the cold then. But that was because I had the flu or something and was thrown into a new schedule that started at 3 am or so and all the newness of the situation.) This year it is ridiculously different: I am there at 6 am in the dead of winter, but somehow that wasn't wacky enough for me. The first week I did bike in but was in long pants and three or four shirt layers. It was great for the morning but with the Santa Ana weather, the days get pretty hot with all the hustle of my day. So this week, I decided to ditch the long pants for shorts and to shed a few shirts after about 8 am. A couple days now have seen me back in the summertime wear: one shirt and shorts! It is absurd to think of how in the dead of winter, I am biking into work in shorts, before the fuggin' sun comes up. Quite a change from last year! Temperature-wise I find the morning commute to be about the same as time in the cooler (38 degrees F), but warmer than in the freezer (0 degrees F). And that is only the first mile or so. The rest is mellower as I warm up. It gets me off to a good start, limbering up a bit before hitting the concrete floors and shuttling the veggies around, and hustling them to their new homes in restaurants around town.

I was doing the math on the business of the bike purchase. I loosened up my price ceiling when I thought of how this would basically be about one or two weeks' pay (it turned out to be about one week's which is absolutely nothing when you consider the terms of debt-slavery that people sign up for when they get a car loan), and how if I was driving, I would spend that much on gas and other wear and tear. I spent that much again on the various components and work on the old bike (admittedly a bit ridiculous considering it was only a $300 bike to start with). So now I've spent two weeks' money on transportation that won't take much to fix or fuel up, and it is still a good deal on the whole considering it has some health and emotional benefits. It also helps put my money where my mouth is with regard to matters of petroleum and political issues I hold dear.

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