IT'S ONLY MONEY,
7 September 2002
Somehow I knew that the "free" breakfast Cindy treated me to on our ride to
Winters a week ago was going to cost me a heck of a lot more than a bowl of oatmeal. We
made that ride on Monday, Labor day.
On Tuesday, other than riding my bike to the gym, I didn't really ride it much at all.
On Wednesday, Cindy showed up for our morning ride and as I got on my Specialized
bike...all 40 lbs of it...and began huffing and puffing again, trying to keep up with her,
shifting down, down down to a rideable gear, I began to realize that I. wanted. a. new.
I had discovered the world of lightweight and I wasn't going to be satisfied with 40
lbs any more. Even if it did give me a better aerobic workout than Cindy was getting on
her lightning fast featherweight.
By now I know a bit about bikes, and I'm not exactly a babe in the woods, ready to be
led around by the nose and just saying "I'll take one of those too" when someone
else orders bike parts. I had a sense of what I wanted.
I knew that I wanted a "hybrid." I didn't want a heavy mountain bike, or a
lightweight touring bike. I wasn't ready for the latter, and I have enough problems with
bumps on bike paths to know that I won't soon be hurtling down any mountain trails in the
foreseeable future--unless there is reincarnation and I come back in a much younger, much
I knew that I wanted an odometer, I wanted a headlight and I wanted a padded seat with
a cut-out for all those tender parts that complained so much on the ride to Winters. But
that's pretty much all I needed. Oh...and Shimano components. I don't really know what
those are, but Secra has them, she says they're cool, and if I'm going to be dumb enough
to buy two bikes in one year, I should at least look cool.
Armed with this much knowledge, I had some confidence when I went bike shopping the
other day. I wasn't ready to buy, but I had 15 minutes to kill while waiting for an order
to be ready at Kinko's and Kinko's is across the street from "bicycle row." I
could stand on the street corner and hit at least 3 shops without hardly breaking a sweat.
I went into the first shop and found a friendly clerk. "I'm just looking," I
told him, and explained that I really needed a lighter weight bike. He started showing me
bikes. He talked about things like the Kevlar beaded Turbo clincher, and body geometry
grip, and disc brake adapters. I saw "pretty green bike." It was obvious we
weren't exactly speaking the same language.
"I'll probably be back," I said.
I went on to the next store. This place is owned by racer Steve Larson, who once was a
friend of our kids. They are working on fixing the seat of my Specialized bike and I went
in to see if the part they ordered had come in. While they were checking, I started
looking at the bikes there. My brain started to go into shock when I saw all those commas
in the prices. Though I am a fool, there is a limit to my folly, and even I can't justify
$1,000 for a bike that will take me to get a bowl of oatmeal in Winters.
This was starting to look not quite as much of a no-brainer as I thought.
I put out the call. I posted a message to the BOOBs and got good advice from Haggie,
Jenipurr, and Secra.
I also sent an SOS to a guy I know who now lives in Maryland, but who worked for years
at a bike shop in Davis and would not only be able to give me advice on what I should get,
but also tell me where to get it.
I also started to wonder if I was out of my ever lovin' mind. I had only been riding
for just a few months and already I was thinking of spending another several hundred
dollars on another bike. Who did I think I was? Haggie?
I started to think it was a nice "someday" dream. Maybe Santa would bring me
a lightweight bike for Christmas.
Then I went riding with Cindy again this morning. Once again, I down shifted to 4 to
try to keep up with her. I huffed and puffed. She coasted along to allow me time to catch
up. I started telling her I really, really wanted a new bike. I also told her about my
bike store experiences.
"I don't know enough to buy a bike on my own," I said. She agreed.
I told her I'd have to do a lot more research before I committed myself to another
expensive bike purchase. She agreed.
Then she said those momentous words: "You know, they have a bike just like Amy's
down at Ken's Bike Shop. My ears picked up. A bike like Amy's? A bike like the one I rode
out to Winters? A bike like the one I'd come to love in just a few hours time?
"It's even the same color," she said.
The same color? The same pretty soft muted blue color?
And then she put the nail in the coffin: "It's on sale. And they only have two
left--a man's and a woman's."
I couldn't get to Ken's fast enough. "That one," said, pointing to the pretty
blue bike (which just happens to have Shimano components, so it's a Very Cool Bike). I
told him I wanted an upgraded seat--padded, but maybe not so wide as my big ol' bike
seat--but definitely with a cut out for all the sensitive parts. And an odometer, so I can
continue to bore everyone with how far I've biked. And a light so I can ride after dark,
which I do at least 3 times a week.
It was all over in 15 minutes. I whipped out my well worn credit card and proved I am,
indeed, the queen of instant gratification. "The Blue Angel" was now mine.
I went to work while they fixed my bike the way I wanted it, but I left work early so I
could get it before dinner.
When I brought the Specialized home, it sat in the carport for a couple of days while I
struggled with myself, knowing that sooner or later I would have to actually get on it
and start riding. But I was on the Blue Angel the second I got it unloaded. I zipped
around the block at the highest gear, going 13 mph, which was unheard of on the
Specialized. I was in love already.
So now I've become a one-woman 2-bike family. I'm keeping the Specialized because it
has a basket and I can use it to haul groceries and produce home from the Farmer's Market.
It will also give me a good workout when I feel the need to do some huffing and puffing.
But I can hardly wait till tomorrow morning when I'll take the Blue Angel out on the road
and see how she handles hills.
I may be in debt forever, but I am one happy camper!