how to ride a bike. Up until yesterday, it had been years since I owned or rode a bicycle. The last bike I had – a 12-speed racing bike – I bought nearly 20 years ago when I was a freshmen in college. I rode it for a few years and then it sat unused until I finally gave it to my brother five years or so ago. His girlfriend tells me he still has it and was riding it just last week.
Two years ago, Mel bought a cheap, retro-styled Schwinn from Kmart. It’s a plain bike, a single-speed with coaster brakes. I think she’s ridden it three times but that hasn’t stopped her from bugging me to get a bike so that we can ride together. This year she informed me that she would be buying me a bike for my birthday. Ummm… okay. That sounds like a nice present. I always like it when people buy me things I’d like to have but would never buy for myself. It’s probably not a bad thing if she buys it; I’d feel I should use it more than I would if I bought the bike. Certainly, I need the exercise.
I’ve been bike shopping on and off since my birthday. I decided I wanted a cruiser. No skinny tires or hunched over posture for me, thanks. Definitely no skinny seat, mine is far too wide for that. You sit upright on a cruiser, it has a wider seat and wider tires. The more elaborate ones come with three or seven gears and hand brakes. They’re not cheap either, some are $300 or more. That didn’t matter to Mel, she just wanted me to have the one I wanted so that I would use it.
We visited quite a few bike shops but no one carried this model I’d seen in a Florida bike shop last year. The selection in the shops in this area isn’t all that great and I was loathe to order something I couldn’t try first. Most of the salesmen I talked with, while knowledgeable, weren’t particularly helpful and didn’t seem interested in making a sale. A few of them promised follow-ups to questions I’d had but never contacted me.
Finally, on Sunday we ended up in a bike shop that had the goods and a well-versed, low pressure salesman who seemed genuinely interested in seeing me get the right bike. I’m thinking the guy was probably the owner of the store. I took this bike for a somewhat wobbly test ride and really liked it. I told Mel she should try it out. Mel took the bike for a short spin and came back smiling. “You want one too, don’t you?” I asked. The salesman immediately brought out another one in a different color. Since they were a little more reasonably priced we decided to get both of them. I had a basket mounted on the front of mine so that I could put my little dog in it. (Yes, I’ll post a photo when I do it!)
We picked up the bikes yesterday evening and went for a spin around the park last night. Aside from a few wobbly test rides, I haven’t actually ridden a bike in 15 years. I didn’t forget how but there sure were a few scary moments. The worst was when I was futzing around with the gears while trying to go up a not-very-steep hill. I did something wrong and locked up the gears. Whoops! Off I went… without the bike. The next thing I knew I was lying on the pavement. After a quick mental inventory of my body parts I just laughed. It wasn’t bad. I scraped and bruised my leg, turned my ankle, twisted myself up a bit. I’m a klutz anyway.
I’m a bit sore today. My butt is still feeling the bike seat and there’s some twinges from the fall, but otherwise, I’m ready to go again. Whee!