Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ode to a Cheap Bike

Decaled with cool words like Spinner, Aluminum Alloy, and Trailhead that are certain to clinch your reputation as the raddest, baddest thrasher on the paved suburban bike path, my chemical-green Mommy Bike is back in play after a season in the shed waiting to get new cables. This is the bike I bought so that I'd have something permanently on campus for making quick trips to the day care or meetings in buildings more than 1/2-mile away. It was the cheapest thing REI had that could still really be called a mountain bike, and it is specifically designed for women between 5'0" and 5'3"-- so it might actually be the first bike I've ever owned that is small enough. It is certainly the first single bike I've ever owned that lets me stand over the top tube without having to leave a foot on a pedal (or stand tippy-toe). The tandem lets me do that, but it is a Bike Friday, which means that even e-baby has standover clearance.

Last fall, after almost a year in the sun, rain, freezing cold, and burning heat of the bike rack outside my building, I realized that the cables housings had all but dissolved off the cables, which were rusting and falling apart. It took another six months to get around to dropping it at the bike shop, and another two or three weeks to get around to dropping it back at work. So when e-baby fell asleep this afternoon in her bed, I rode up to drop it off. It is a beautiful day today, so I took a long route through the state park to get there, doubling back after a couple of miles just to have the honeysuckle breeze up my nose a little longer. I left the bike locked to the rack next to the dumpsters outside my building* to endure another year of weather, and jogged home. I have to say that when you're not transporting a baby (trailer or jogger), riding a bike is still a MILLION times more fun than running.

If I had the chance to get back just one thing from my pre-baby life, it would be the freedom to ride 150 miles a week without pulling a 70-pound trailer.

* It is funny that bike racks are usually placed in positions of such status. But I'll tolerate the dumpster smell with the smug knowledge that I have a closer parking space than anyone else.

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