Friday, August 25, 2006

I want to ride my bicycle

I had the bestest, purpliest purple bike in the world. It was beautiful and I used to hang my black wire market basket on the front and ride it around like the geek I am. I loved it because it was purple. I didn't care that it was a $70 Target bike, I just cared it was purple and got me to where I wanted to go.

Then Gazelle Boy borrowed it one day beause his tire was flat. And so did the other kids until they were complaining it didn't shift right, the tires were flat, blah, blah, blah. I made them fix the tires and told them to take care of it. After a year of it being tossed around and smashed about and dropped and everything else, I finally reclaimed my bike the other day.

I pumped up the tires and started down the block only to hear that sick clackity clacky ca chunka chunk chunk noise of the chain falling off.

"Shit," was the first word out of my mouth and quickly followed by more than a few other stronger expletives. I took it to the bike store and they were very nice.

"It's really not worth fixing," the mechanic said. "By the time I get done, it would cost less to replace it. Honestly, you should seriously think about a new bike."

There must have been something in my eyes - some look on my face because he then said, "Look, my basic tune up alone is $60 and then when you factoring in new parts - look, this wire's frayed and needs to be replaced. Your chain, the derailleur..." he said as he punched numbers into the calculator and then showed me the display. "Really, for that you could go upstairs and buy a new bike."

He could tell I was sad. Hell - he was sad because he I was sad. With a sigh I asked, "Can you do something with her? I mean, if I leave her with you is there anything you can scavenge from her?"

He said if I left it out front, someone would be sure to take it and try to give it a new life. One guy who was there getting his bike checked out said, "Hey, this is why I carry tools with me - I could use some parts from this. It's a good seat and the brake pads are in good shape... if it's OK with you."

The bike mechanic said the guy could even scavenge parts and leave the rest outside, "Trust me," he said, "someone will take it and make use of the frame."

With a sigh, I said goodbye to my bike and went upstairs. The sales girl was sweet when she listened to what I wanted and showed me some bikes she had ("And I can order this in purple for you if I don't have it in stock...").

So off I went in search for a new bike. I stopped at the police station to find out about auctions (nothing any time soon) and several bike stores where they tried to sell me things that made no sense.

In one store I said, "I don't want a single speed bike. There are too many hills and it's too much work - in fact, I just left my landshark on the curb because it was just too hard to ride." What do you think she showed me? A $450 single speed cruiser because, "This is the hottest selling bike right now for people who just want to ride around town doing errands."

Another guy tried to sell me a $600 bike because, "You'll never need another bike as long as you live." Of course this came after I told him I really didn't want to go over $200.

Then there was the guy who tried to sell me a $250 Trek mountain bike that wasn't designed for a front basket or rear rack.

Finally I went into a store where guy showed me a $250 bike because it was purple. He then said, "Look, I don't mean to screw myself out of a sale or anything but maybe you're better off with a Walmart or a Target special. It's not like you're riding in the PanMassChallenge or training for a tri. You just want something to ride on alternate running days and to do errands. You might be better off spending $70 on something there instead of something here."

He was right. I wasn't sure what I'd need in a few months if I get more serious about this stuff and I could make an expensive mistake if I rushed into things now. I really needed a Target special - but Target was out of my size bikes. Damn the high cost of gas. This meant I had to step foot in Wally world.

I loathe Walmart. I hate to think that I could financially support a company such as Walmart in any way, shape or form - but when you need a bike and Target's out, what's a girl to do?

There, on the very tip, top rack was the bike in the picture. It was my purpliest purply shade of purple. I could hang a basket on the front and put a rack on the back if I wanted. It had five speeds and cost just over $50. It wasn't a great bike, but it was what I needed for now.

Tomorrow I will take out my new bike and get to know it better. I will hang my basket on the front and take it to the library. I'm sure we'll become great friends.

In the meantime, I've decided next spring I'll buy a good bike at the first store I went to - where the mechanic and the saleswoman really listened to me. I'm going to save for my new bike by simply stashing any one dollar bills I get where the serial number ends in 7 or 11. If I do that for a few months, I suspect that it won't be long before I have a couple of hundred dollars put aside for a new bike and I'll have a better idea of what I really need in a bike.

I still mourn for my old bike, but I'm looking forward to getting to know my new one.

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