I’m In Love
It’s a relationship that started out slowly, cautiously, but has really taken off. I think I’m in love. Not with just one guy, or even two, but three. It could even be four. I am getting to know the guys at my favorite bike shop on a first name basis. I’ve now met the owner, and two of the primary bike mechanics. In my New Biker Chick World, these are definitely the people to know. After all, I’m riding some fairly long distances, sometimes alone, and the idea of having some sort of avoidable mishap 20 miles away from home where I have to hike back with my wheels slung over my shoulder simply doesn’t appeal to me. Knowledge is power and these men have what I need.
Inside my first two weeks of actually having my Specialized Ariel Elite in my possession, I think I was in the shop every day for the first three or four days after I started riding.
Riding a bike that cost more than anything I’ve ever purchased for myself ever, excluding a house, two vehicles, and a graduate degree is not exactly like walking into your local Wal-Mart and coming out with the latest Magna thing. I simply wasn’t ready for how much the technology has advanced since the 1980’s when I was riding what was then a really decent road bike. It retailed for about $300, and I remember thinking that was a lot of money to spend on a bike. (These days, people serious about cycling spend thousands and often have more than one bike.) That $300 bike was my daddy’s bike. He gave it to me for college and I spent a lot of time in the saddle. I learned to ride on that bike. While Daddy’s bike was nice back in the day, it didn’t quite fit me. I made it work because it was far superior to the Schwinn I was given when I was in 5th grade. In college it was my only source of transportation. I’ve since learned the value (and experienced the comfort) of a bike that is sized for my body instead of someone else’s. Yes, size and fit matter.
Sore Seats and Sweet Rides.
What I know about my new bike compared to my old one of yesteryear is that I’m no longer in Kansas anymore. The science and technology behind the mechanics of the bicycle has progressed far beyond the simple road bike or 10-speed of yesteryear.
The technology is radically different, and better. Instead of choosing between the simple single speed children’s bike or a 10-speed, the cycling options are virtually endless. Cruisers, commuters, mountain bikes, road bikes, hybrids, triathlons all sport a specialized two wheel vehicle specifically designed for the rider’s specific needs. I had no idea about any of this when I first began thinking I might like to buy a new bike for myself.
Experienced cyclists know how important a good fit is, but the taxi-mom person who thinks biking means pulling out the cruiser on Saturday and going for a ride in the neighborhood with the kids really has no clue. I’m not on a cruiser and I’m not meandering through neighborhoods once a week. I’m kicking it for 20+ miles anytime I go out and I’m cranking up a sweat in the first mile and keeping it up until the last of 20. This is what a well fitted bike can do for someone like me who hasn’t been on a bike (and I’m not joking here) for over 30 years.
But…I digress. I was talking about the guys at the local bike shop.
They are beginning to understand that I am not one of those folks they can sell a bike to and then expect to just disappear. Oh no. After my first ride, I rode down to the shop and asked them to check out the height of my bike seat. It kind of felt weird to me and I thought maybe another half inch higher would be appropriate. I had a different person helping me this time, than the guy who helped fit me and, interestingly, he concluded the same as the first guy, that my bike seat was at the correct height. Given that I haven’t been on a bike in 30 years, and given that when I was riding 30 years ago, I was riding bikes that were easily an inch or two too large for me, I decided to defer to my friendly neighborhood bike authorities who build the machines, ride the machines and know the machines.
After a month, I concluded they are right. My bike seat is at the correct height. I am just really out of shape.
After my second ride, I went in to see about getting a gel seat for my bike.
I’d ridden about 20 miles (10 out, 10 back) and my seat was sore! Not just a little either. It was more sore than I ever remember it being. In fact, I’ve given birth to four beautiful children and I don’t ever remember my seat being that sore after childbirth. Clearly, something was not right. I thought, a padded seat would be a good idea. This is the part where the technology is better these days, because padded seats on a “real” bike just did not exist back in the day. I also felt a bit like a loser even asking for one, because I can still vaguely remember those days when the ill-fitted bike and I were one and seat pain was never a problem.
I rode right on down to my neighborhood bike shop and immediately fell in love.
I went in looking for a padded seat. I was determined to buy. I had the cash burning a hole in my pocket. I walked away with the same seat I rode in on. Turns out, the bike shop doesn’t do plastic surgery. They also don’t sell me anything I really don’t need. Instead of benefitting from the quick sale of a gel seat, I was asked how many rides I had on the bike and how long I’m riding each time. I thought that was a bit of a personal question, but I was encourage to give the bike six rides or or about 40-50 miles before changing seats. My Bike Guy suggested padded bike shorts, but, again, no pressure. Rather than jump on an easy sale, he convinced me to give my body and my bike some time to get to know each other. I left the bike shop that day, still sore, but empty handed.
October’s golden glow of fall faded long ago, and the perfect cycling weather has given way to winter’s wet windy weather. I am still without a padded bike seat, though I did invest in a pair of cycling shorts with a chamois in the seat. I’ve put over a hundred miles on my bike and have even ridden some single track mountain trail. I slide through mud, bounce off rocks, and have thrown myself right over my handles bars. While my body might be bruised and sore on occasion, my seat never hurts.
I go to the bike shop pretty regularly. I purchased tire liners, heavy duty tubes after my third ride when I sported a flat. I ask questions about cycling, trails, and local rides. I’m trying to figure out the best gear for cold weather riding, so I’m full of questions. I’m now planning my next two bike purchases (something that won’t happen for another couple of years). I’m never pressured and I’m never sold something I don’t need. I trust these guys to tell it to me straight. They listen to me. They answer my questions. They are always available to help me when I need it. They are so knowledgeable and skillful and they definitely know what they are doing and how to ride.
It’s really a great relationship. I’m having so much fun, my seat doesn’t hurt and all my rides are sweet these days.
I think I’m in love.
Posted on December 30, 2010, in Cycling and tagged beginning mountain bike, bike fit, bike shop, bike technology, bike transportation, cycling, cycling for fun, cycling hobby, fitness, gel seats, heavy duty tubes, hybrid mountain bikes, Magna, memoirs, mountain biking for beginners, padded seats, personal, romance, seat height, single moms, single parents, singles, Specialized, Specialized Ariel Elite, tire liners, Wal-Mart. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.