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(this is for you, Gene)

17 March 2002

george.jpg (5864 bytes)Today I met a lovely man named Gene Oh. Gene is the lovely man who works for  Alameda Bicycle who got the fun of outfitting Olivia and me with bikes and all the accoutrements. (Don't you think that for a plug like that I should get a discount?)

Yes, today was the day. While we were fully expecting to buy a bike up here in Davis and had spent a whirlwind morning going through the store and picking out stuff, with the expectation that we would purchase it all this week, Olivia decided to check out the shop on her home turf and she met Gene. Where the bicycle shop here would offer us the traditional one year warranty on the bike, Alameda Bicycle met the sale price of the bike (a Specialized brand) here in Davis and offered us a lifetime warranty on maintenance for the bike. I presented that to the guys here in Davis and they scoffed. No way, Jose.

So they lost, Alameda Bicycle won, and today was the day we were going to Buy Our Bikes.

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Looking casual--like we spend $500 every day on sporting equipment.

Olivia had already scoped out the place and knew what she want and where to find it. This shop is quite tiny and crowded and had several people in it. I lumbered through it like an elephant in a china shop, but fortunately didn't knock over too many things.

We spoke at length with Gene, who offered suggestions and took Olivia's suggestions (I'm the silent one in these negotiations; I don't know nuthin') Ultimately a price had been reached, we had our arms filled with helmets and other stuff and we were ready to Pay The Man.

After writing our checks, we left Gene and his cohorts to build our bikes. The regular seats had to be exchanged for soft, big butt, old lady seats. The rear view mirrors attached. Everything sized right. The bell attached. (The most difficult decision was which bicycle bell to buy. Olivia was eyeing the rubber pig or the sumo wrestler -- Gene was pushing the sumo wrestler -- but in the end, we went for more old fashioned, traditional type bells--except hers is big and loud and mine is smaller and softer. There may be some message here.)

We went away and got lunch while they were make our dream machines.

oliviabike.jpg (20880 bytes)At the appointed time, we returned to Alameda Bicycle (I really think I deserve SOME discount here, don't you think, Gene?) to get the bikes. I couldn't really believe I had actually just spent money on a bike. I think all this dieting has made my brain weak.

Anyway, Olivia took her bike out for a trial spin, but I wasn't ready to embarrass myself in front of all of Alameda, so Gene helped me load it into the car and I drove on home.

We unloaded the bike from the car and brought it into the house. "When are you going to try it," Walt asked. "Tomorrow," I said. I was not ready to take the plunge.

But then I went in and tried on my cool new bike helmet. Black. Like Darth Vadar.

I decided that with a cool helmet, I really needed to actually bite the bullet and see if I could ride the damn thing.  (Besides, I figured that the helmet camouflages me so well, and my "couch potato-dom" is so well known, that even if I pass people I know, they won't recognize me--or believe it's me!)

I stood perched at the top of the very slight incline in front of the house and imagined myself sailing down the driveway into the oncoming traffic and decided that perhaps this was not the best way to start out.

So I walked the bike down to the sidewalk. Now right away there is a problem. It's this bum leg of mine. Well, it's not a bum leg, but it doesn't like to lift up. I figured that exercise would help that problem, but so far, no. It will raise up, but it's an effort. I can raise my LEFT leg all right, but everyone knows you mount your steed from the left, which means swinging your right leg over the top. (Fortunately this is a woman's bike; I don't think I could make it on a man's)

But eventually, and I hope without causing too many titters among the neighbors, I managed to find myself straddling the bike. The next step was to actually put the thing in motion.

While it may be true that "riding a bicycle comes right back to you," the first few revolutions of the wheel, with the wobbily front shaking like jelly, made me feel like I was 6 years old and trying out my very first 2-wheeler.

But in very short order (it all came back to me...) I was pedaling down the sidewalk. I pedaled half a block before I was brave enough to go down into the bike lane on the street.

Stop signs made me panic. I didn't want to have to start up, now that I had my momentum. I sailed around corners praying I wouldn't meet approaching traffic. (And I'm not so sure about this rear view mirror jazz--I didn't really see much in it)

I discovered that while the mechanics of riding a bike come back to you easily enough, the coordination has undergone at least 30 years of deterioration and that is going to be a bit more difficult to re–acquire. As anyone will tell you, I never did have the grace of a gazelle.

I just rode around the block and when I went down this little alley way that leads to our street, I realized I had to either make a very sharp turn, hop off the bike, or risk flying off over the curb into the oncoming traffic.

In the end, I did neither. I kind of went splat. I didn't fall, but I came to a very ungraceful stop and then realized that In order to dismount, I would have to raise that leg over the bike again, and in so doing, caught it on the frame and nearly toppled over.

Bev on her bikeYes, the riding part will become a piece o'cake, but feeling like I belong there is going to take a bit more time.

And, all that recumbant bike pedaling aside, it's a bit more difficult to pedal a moving bicycle than it is to relax in the gym, casually moving your legs (though the "coast" feature was nice!)  I was going to ride the bike to work on Monday, but I'm not sure I can make it that far (~2-1/2 miles) yet.

But the seat is very soft and I'm encouraged. I don't think we'll be going on any lengthy trips in the near next goal is to go farther than around the block. But by all the heavy breathing I was doing by the time I got back home, I know that this is going to be a wonderful addition to my "getting fit" program.

If I survive.

Thanks, Gene! Thanks, Alameda Bicycle. I'll be back for my free tune up. Hopefully I won't have bent the frame by then!



More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroad. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.

-- Woody Allen

(somehow I think there's a message in here for my getting ready to embark on the life of a bike rider!)

One Year Ago

The Auld Sod

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Created 3/17/02