Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Have bike, will travel -- hopefully

Published May 19, 2008

In my never-ending quest for health and thinness, I decided to buy a bike.
I figured it's easy enough to ride the one at the gym that has a TV hooked to it. How much harder can peddling around the neighborhood be?
My brother had given me a bike last summer that his daughters thought too uncool to ride. Well, it was cool enough for me - with its curled-down racing handlebars - but it was too small. My knees hit my elbows when I rode it.
And that's why I needed a new one.
I started at Sears, but The Store-That-Sells-All-Things-Metal no longer carries bikes. It's true. The salesman told me.
Oh, well, it didn't really matter. I couldn't just go into a store and buy the first bike I found anyway.
First I had to do Google research and look on eBay and read some blogs on bicycling.
There's no sense making a major purchase these days unless one is thoroughly ... informed.
But I knew what I wanted - a girl's pink racing bike with a real comfortable seat and gears that didn't let the chain slip.
It became readily apparent that color was the least of my worries. Bikes come in sizes - and I'm not talking just 20- or 26-inch wheels. Oh, no. The frames come in different sizes and the wheels come in different sizes.
So, even after you figure out what size frame you need according to your height and inseam - and most importantly, where the bar hits you when you straddle the bike - you then need to pick a wheel size.
It was all too complicated for me.
I decided to shop for a bike the way I had always done - in department stores.
I found a Schwinn I really liked. It cost a little more (twice as much) than I had planned to spend, but it was on sale.
It wasn't pink. It wasn't even a girl's bike, but it was big enough and it had a really comfortable seat - and some other features the salesman told me about.
"It has a quick-release front wheel," he said.
I must have looked puzzled because he added, "If you take it off, the bike will fit in your trunk."
Hmm. That's handy, I thought.
"And see these tire valves? If you push down on them, you can let some of the air out of your tires when you are racing," he said.
"When I'm racing? Wait, maybe this bike is too elaborate ..."
"Well, you don't have to use them," he said. "Look, you can put these caps on them."
I hope he didn't say anything too important after that because I kind of stopped listening.
I liked this bike. I was going to buy it. I wasn't going to use all of its functions, but what else is new? My younger son and I both have Blackberries. His does everything but the laundry. Mine makes phone calls.
Anyway, I paid for the bike and the salesman walked it out for me. He quick-released the tire but the bike still didn't fit in the trunk. We crammed it in the backseat and I brought it home.
So, if you see a big blonde woman on a big blue men's bike go zipping by, it's probably me.
And, if you see that big blonde woman go sailing over the handlebars of that big blue men's bike, you'll know why.
She probably wasn't paying enough attention when the sales guy showed her how to put that quick-release front wheel back on.

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