Thursday, November 8, 2007

Bike Karma

As you know, my rear wheel was stolen. I did some quick research, called around a bit and discovered that replacing a rear wheel, complete with all those gears on the hub, would cost over $100. Since I only paid $80 for the entire bike, I was morally opposed to this. So I searched on Craigslist for another cheapo used bike for a surprisingly long time which included over a week of being yanked around by a bike seller who ended up selling the perfect bike for me to someone else for god-only-know-what reason.

Then I found a used Fuji crosstown: a solid-yet-inexpensive, basic hybrid commuter bike. Just what I felt I was looking for. I liked the thought of being able to ride around in a more upright sitting position because I figured it would be more physically comfortable and would also make it easier to take in and enjoy the scenery while riding along. I went to buy it. It was practically brand new. The owner had to move back to Ireland, and left it with his now former roommates to deal with. They were selling it mostly to get it out of their kitchen. But they were up on the fourth floor of a walk-up, so I couldn't test ride it. It also had almost no air in the tires, as it had just been sitting there for months. Still, it looked perfect, so I bought it. Paid more than I wanted to for a used bike, but I was so desperate by then (like any true addict) that I didn't care. Gimmee gimmee gimmee!

I dragged it out of their kitchen, down the stairs out onto the street and then had to find a way to fill the tires. So I called a few friends hoping someone could look up some bike shops on google for me, but nobody I called was home, or owned an iPhone. I was able to reach my friend Rich who used his Palm-pilot to call up a couple of bike shops near my exact location and I went to them both. Both closed. First one didn't have an air hose at all. Second one had an airhose, but it was behind a locked gate. So frustrating.

Then I had another thought: a gas station. Gas stations have air-pumps! Some are even for free! Not owning an automobile, I wasn't exactly up on where all the gas stations are, but I did happen to recall there being one on 10th ave. and 15th st., which was probably the closest one to my current position and only about a 20-minute walk. A schlep, but it worked great and only cost me 50 cents.

Once that was done, only then did I get to actually ride my new bike. It rode perfectly. Shifted quickly. Brakes worked well, etc. Everything great. But I immediately discovered the main difference between the more upright riding position and the more hunched over lower, forward leaning position...

Yes, upright is more comfortable. But hunched is much more agile. Much more. Turns out that for aggressive hard riding it's just way better. So, for most of my riding through town, I prefer hunched. It's quicker, easier to make turns, snap course corrections, more responsive all around. Now I've got a really good new-ish bike that might be nicer for leisurely strolls along the river, but for fighting my way through rush hour traffic to get to work... not so good.

And for bumpy pot-hole ridden NYC streets, the big fat knobby tires of mountain bikes are way more practical than the stiff light thin tires of road (and hybrid) bikes.

But still... I've got a bike.

So, the other day, it was my first full day with the new bike and I ride it to work. I lock it up where I used to lock up the old bike. Around 2pm I come out of the office to get a snack and I check on the bike. It's fine. Around 7:15 pm at the end of my work day I come out looking forward to a nice leisurely bike ride home, maybe up the west side bike path, and I see that the bike is facing the opposite direction from when I locked it up and the front wheel of the bike is, not stolen, but mangled. A bus must've jumped the curb a bit and crushed it.

I had the thing ONE DAY! Not even one full day! What the!?!

So I unlocked it, let the air out of the tire, removed the quick-release wheel, laid it on the sidewalk and stomped it back into a more wheel-shaped shape. I put it back on the bike and walked it all the way home, with a horrid sickening herky-jerky motion. I locked it to a sign by my apartment and it remained there until I found the time to get a new wheel. (I also had to replace the front brake.)

I think I was more enraged by the bus crushing this bike than by the theft of the wheel off the old bike.


Still, it's better than waiting for the F train.

Bikes rule!


Roger said...

maybe you should get a skateboard?

Dr. Brainwave said...

I'm not coordinated enough.

Brooke said...

how can it be that my adoration of you
just continues to grow?

do you want my hawiian crusier for the winter?

Dr. Brainwave said...

I think I want your Hawaiian cruiser in Hawaii for the winter.