the best idea i ever had

This was the best idea I ever had, I told E. Buying a bike. And he agreed with me. He doesn’t usually agree with me. Usually, he positively delights in arguing with me, but this time, I am unequivocally correct, in my judgment, here. Buying a bike has been so good for me, and my sense of independence and freedom and also my legs. There are muscles on places on my legs where before I didn’t even have places! I am getting better at climbing hills! And dodging traffic! And scratching my nose without veering off into a gutter! And chaining up my bike without it falling over onto my head! These are all very important life skills, and I feel that I am improving as a human being.

The day before, I rode up to the grocery store with my new lock and my chain lock, and spent 20 minutes figuring out how to get the sucker secured, and shopped for dinner. I rode home loaded down with bags up and down my arms and miraculously did not fall over and die in traffic (I really need to go get a basket). Yesterday, I took my bike out to the post office and bought stamps and shipped a package, and I nodded like a total professional at the other guy who was locking up his bike–oh yeah. You and me buddy. We’re bikers. Then I went to the bookstore, and then I rode over to the coffee shop and got a terrible, terrible latte, and then I realized I had forgotten to bring my wallet so I went home instead of going to the bike store to get my basket fitted (I really, really need to get a basket).

Today, I had appointments in Salt Lake City, so I rode my bike down to
the commuter train, and I felt extremely fancy, buckling it into the
bike stand in the corner by the door. And I worked all the way down
into the city with my helmet on the seat beside me (by which I mean,
fiddled with Twitter and looked at the Internet and kept my eye on my
bike, because I am very afraid of having my bike stolen. It’s blue! I
want to keep it). And then, we when got in, I biked all the way over to the salon without getting run over or dying, though I was biking right
into the wind and it turns out, that shit is hard. And it felt

We’re talking still, about taking me to get a car in the next few
weeks. I’ve got a big job coming in, and prompt payment, and a corner
of that can be used to pay for an inexpensive beater that will take me
up to Target or out to the fancy grocery store, without feeling like I
have to bug someone else, take time out of their day for something they
are very not interested in. Everyone is more than happy to help; I am,
however, less than happy to ask. It will be nice to have a car for big
grocery runs, for going places I can’t get to on my bike because I
can’t cross the highway or go over the mountain or bike 6.8 miles on a
steady incline in one sitting (yet).

This is the thing I’m worried about, though: will I stop riding my
bike, once I get a car? I don’t want to hop in my jalopy just to go a
mile to get a stamp, or up the block to get my prescriptions filled,
and I’m afraid that that’s what’s going to happen. It’s too hot, I’m
too tired, it’ll take too long, I’ll just take the car and it’ll be
easier. I will forget how much fun it is, to ride a bike, to be
pedal-powered, under my own steam, wind in my hair, et cetera, and it
will languish and gather dust and I’ll end up thinking it was the
dumbest idea I ever had, buying a new bike. I don’t want that to happen.

8 Replies to “the best idea i ever had”

  1. Hey, I have a nerdy bike question: I’m in the market for a bike (for doing errands around town, etc) and was just curious—did you get a single-speed bike, or one with lots of gears?

  2. You know, I adore my little Miata, but I still walk everywhere I can, because I love walking too, and it is not good for my darling car to drive short distances anyway. Also, gas prices are your friend right now and will be happy to inspire you to keep riding your bike.

  3. Comrade GoGo–I am absolutely the wrong person to ask nerdy questions about bikes, but I can tell you I ended up with a 7-speed cruiser. I was originally looking at the single-speeds, but I am glad I ended up with the gears. My town is pretty hilly, and it makes it so much easier.

  4. anne, maybe you would consider getting bags for the back of your bike instead of (or in addition to!) a basket. the only reason i say this is that it’s a lot easier to balance some weight on the back of your bike than on the front, which is where you steer. re getting the car & then not biking…well…you’ll just have to stay strong and remember how much you love biking :)…or, you could look into car sharing or stuff like that…anyway, happy biking! i have an 8 speed city bike that i bought in england and i love it, though i would trade it for the old single speed, back-pedal brake dutch bike i borrowed from my aunt when i lived in the netherlands in a second–that was the nicest ride i’ve ever had on a bike, and those things are indestructable…

  5. Another geeky bike question. What brand did you get? How heavy is it? I guess that’s 2 questions. I want to get a bike in a big way and I love cruisers because they’re cute, but I want to be practical too.
    I agree that gas prices are definitely your friend when it comes to motivation to ride your bike. Plus, I could drive to work every day, but I love having that nice 2 mile walk twice a day, especially now as the weather is getting really nice. So I don’t think buying a car will necessarily kill your desire to ride your bike. It will just let you get to Target on occasion. Yay, Target!

  6. Wilma, I actually just got back from the bike shop, and ended up going with rear baskets! Visions of me veering off into traffic were haunting me. (Also, neither shop had the front basket I wanted.)
    Gin–I wish they had zipcar or any of those carshare programs, but no. Unfortunately not.
    Kelly, I got an electra townie:
    I am looking for the weight info, but can’t find it in the specs. Maybe I’m missing it? I can tell you, though, that I am pretty much a wimp, and I can lift it up and down my front stairs really easily. It’s unwieldy, but its light.

  7. so the idea is to let your car live at someone elses house, like a mile away. That way it isn’t so convenient to hop in it for the latte 8 blocks away.

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