Friday, August 01, 2008

My New Ride

After my recent bike ride around Mackinac Island, I was thrilled. I had discovered a way to get exercise that I really enjoyed. I had purchased the Jeep Overland Stroller for Sera and me to go walking but my lower back was just killing me over time. So to find an exercise that didn't cause severe back pain while being on vacation was a great bonus for me!

When we got home from vacation, I started shopping online for a bicycle. I found a couple that were reasonably priced, but Magi suggested that I visit our local bicycle shop, House of Bicycles. She sure was right!

I hadn't had a bike that wasn't a Huffy since I was old enough to ride a two-wheeler, and my last bike was a ten-speed that I bought during my senior year in college that didn't even make it through a summer before I returned it because the nuts that needed to be turned to adjust the brakes kept snapping. It was not well-made. There have been several advances in bicycles since 1987, apparently.

The bikes I had been looking at had 19" frames, and the one that the owner of House of Bicycles picked out for me to try had a 22" frame. I liked it well enough, but it was black and green, which I didn't really care for. The next one he picked out was even bigger, a 23" frame Raleigh hybrid with a 24-speed Shimano deraileur that was electric blue. He adjusted the seat for me, took the time to explain how and why the seat could be adjusted to way higher than I would have ever done for myself and then helped me pick out the right accessories for it by asking me what I would be using it for.

There's really something to be said for customer service in local specialty shops. I bought my camera the same way from a place in Elkhart. No matter the problem, I can always go talk to a person with expertise who is happy to answer and help me in any way they can. The people at this store are the same way. They guided me in the right direction and built me a bike to last. They made sure that I got fenders to protect my clothes should I decide to ride to work (measured today at 7.5 miles, but along scary roads with lots of traffic--maybe not) and a cargo rack with webbing to keep my stuff from falling off. I got a headlight and taillight, an electronic speedometer/odometer and, of course, a water bottle and mount.

I picked the bike up at 6:00 last night, and by my second ride at 8:30 this morning I had already ridden ten miles, all without pain. I had to have them make one adjustment, raising the handlebars a little so I could sit straighter in the saddle, but otherwise everything has been perfect. It's great to feel the wind evaporate the sweat instantly as I ride. I can ride longer without overheating, my knees and back feel great, and I get my pulse rate up for a good long time. This may be the answer I've been looking for!

Now, does anyone want a lightly-used Jeep Overland Stroller at a reasonable price?


KC Ryan said...

Hey, Jim!

Welcome to the Wheel World! :)

I've consistently had bikes throughout my life. From the time I was old enough to buy my own, I've always gone to a local shop, for many of the same reasons you state.

When I got my bike back from the shop's annual tune-up (cheap, and worth it, imho) I was overjoyed to be riding again!

But I was spoiled in California with their bike lanes. I mean, I drove out to bike in Evanston, home of Northwestern University, and I may as well have been biking in downtown Chicago - no lanes at all!

We do have bike paths around here, but even they aren't as good as the one along the Niagara River I used to ride. These are narrow, which saves money building them but is a pain in the butt to pass people. But they do go for a long way without interference, I'll give them that.

Biking is tons of fun and pretty easy on the knees (important for an old fogy like me).

I've discovered so much about the towns I've lived in (South Bend, Sacramento, Buffalo, Chicago) by just going off on a weekend day and biking where I thought I'd find something interesting.

OK, so I'm a big bike fan. I have two mountain bikes, mainly because I had one in storage and couldn't bear to be away from the bike. Granted, neither one's a true mountain bike - they're more like road cruisers, although if I get some money by next year I might get an actual road bike, since that's where I ride.

Welcome to the Wheeled World, Jim!

Jim McClain said...

Thanks, KC! I am enjoying the heck out of it so far. I got my heart rate up for 25 minutes today, which is a nice start. I've ridden every day except Saturday (emergency root canal) and I've increased my time and mileage each day. I'm seeing a lot of our neighborhoods and finding nice places to ride. Our subdivision only has 38 houses in it, so it's fairly limited. But then again, we live in a sea of subdivisions!