Category Archives: Bicycles

The Bike Guy

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Craigslist is a wonderful thing. When I moved from my old house last fall to the “Treehouse”I now live in, I got rid of virtually everything I owned. The Treehouse is 400 square feet larger than our old house, two story, and surrounded by large old cedars. In fact, one grows right up through our very spacious back deck. Since the Treehouse is much newer, having been built in 2005, than our old place which was a 1970’s style 1-story ranch home desperately in need of some updating, we were loath to bring anything into it that was not also newer (at least to us). I essentially sold all our furniture on Craigslist, except for a few choice pieces, and replaced it all with items I found on Craigslist. I even spun a few extra furniture deals in the process, mixed and matched table and chair sets to create the dining arrangement that I wanted, and sold the castoffs as a set, all the while making money on the deal.

When I’m not trolling the furniture section of Craigslist, I’m scanning the bicycle section. On a number of occasions I’ve seen ads for used bikes at reasonable prices from one particular person. I’m talking about really nice bikes: Treks, Cannondales, Specialized and the like. Apparently, he finds the bikes used, then fixes them up and resells them. Of course, he also sells the Schwinns as well. I’ve even responded to a couple of his ads, the last being for a balloon tire cruiser which he’d already sold by the time I called.

The other day, we were driving through the neighborhood to drop off one of my daughter’s friends and there, next door to the neighborhood corner market (which I happen to love, by the way), I noticed that a new shop had opened up. I was especially pleased to note that this shop, of all the kinds of shops it could be, was a bike shop. I love my new neighborhood for so many reasons. The addition of a bike shop, especially a bike repair shop, right around the corner, is just one more way this place keeps getting better and better.

The Fun Wheels needs a new seat. It has needed one for a while which is one reason I haven’t ridden it much lately. Today, we decided to take the Fun Wheels down to the new bike shop and see if they could order a new seat. The shop was closed (strange for a Saturday) but here is the sign that was on the door:

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It turns out that the new bike shop is none other than the Craigslist Bike Guy and he just happened to set up shop right around the corner from the Treehouse. Needless to say, I’m pretty stoked. I plan to get to know the owner very well, and maybe one day he’ll come across that used road bike that happens to be just my size (and the right brand and color, of course) for a price I can’t say no to.

The Bike Guy is clearly starting up on a budget. He’s outgrown his home and needs a shop. He’s opened the doors, but you can tell he’s keeping his overhead low, which hopefully will come back to customers in terms of reasonable prices on repairs and used bikes. I , for one, am doing my part to help him out by spreading the word to my small neck of the woods. I’m still completely loyal to the bike shop where I purchased my Specialized Ariel Elite, which is where I ended up going today. They will try to see if they can track down a new seat for the Fun Wheels. Even so, for those small things I don’t want to go across town for, The Bike Guy might prove to be convenient.

If you live nearby you might check out The Bike Guy. Maybe he’ll have the perfect bike for you.

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Bike Hoarders

I hate the show Hoarders. Beyond the fact that I feel this program capitalizes on human despair, misery, and mental illness, it just hits a little too close to home for me. In my last marriage, I was married to a hoarder. It didn’t help that from childhood, I myself have been a bit of a collector or, to be more direct, a hoarder. The truth is, the show makes me very uncomfortable. While my hoarding was never that extreme, I see the situations on TV and often think that under certain circumstances, maybe, I could have ended up like that. It kind of makes me shudder.

What’s different for me, is that while I do have the tendency to hoard (think: a garage full of stamps and scrap booking and craft supplies or a closet full of shoes and handbags), I am also a neat freak. My hoarding was always somewhat contained because of this. Even so, in my last marriage, my hoarder husband and I managed to create a disaster that almost looked like an episode from Hoarders. It took me almost 5 years of dedicated effort, numerous truck and trailer loads to the local Goodwill or landfill, the help of many people and the dedication of one wonderfully and meticulously ordered man. My life now, while not entirely minimalist, is drastically changed. It feels great.

Old tendencies do die hard, don’t they? Since starting on this cycling venture, I can see my hoarding temptation begin to rear it’s ugly head. To begin with, one can never have too many cycling shorts…or jerseys. The desire to bury myself in all the cool cycling gear is something I have to resist every month on payday. My strategy? I pay all the bills for the month right away, and since there is never any money left over for such delights, my inner struggle is abated…temporarily.

My desire for gear and cycling accessories, which can easily amount to a small fortune, is nothing compared to my recent desire to accumulate bikes, an “illness” that can easily cost a large fortune. I take responsibility for my own weaknesses. Lately, I’ve fallen off the wagon and given into my hoarding desires once again. I’ve become a bike hoarder.

My demise began innocently enough with the purchase in 2010 of my hybrid bike; a Specialized Ariel Elite. You can see pictures of it all over this blog. I call her Ariel, and she is still my first love. Of course, The Beau had to have his own bike so he purchased his own hybrid, a Specialized Crosstrail. This brought the household bike total from zero to two in about six weeks. That Christmas, my daughter’s own Hot Rocks Specialized bike joined our fold, followed this last summer by my son’s Specialized mountain bike and my college daughter’s beach cruiser. In a very short time, our family became a 5-bike family. This really isn’t such a hoarding problem, because, really, one bike for each member of the family isn’t such a problem as long as you have the garage space, is it? (Never mind, that I did rent a small storage unit to store camping gear and Christmas decorations so the bikes would fit in the garage.)

The trouble really started when a friend of mine decided she wanted to try riding with us. She was able to get her semi-recumbent bike from her ex and, since she is an apartment dweller living in a third floor apartment, it just made sense to store the bike in our garage. She gave me permission to ride it at any time. I took her up on that and have discovered a new love.

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This crazy-looking bike is a miracle bike. If you ever had any image issues or hang ups about how you look to the world this bike gets you past that instantly. Anyone riding it looks completely ridiculous. Anyone riding it also elicits envy from onlookers because not only is the bike all sorts of fun to ride, it looks like it is all sorts of fun to ride. Let’s face it, on a day to day basis we envy those who are having fun when we are not. When I’m on that bike, I’m having all the fun, everyone else? Not so much. Yes, 10 miles on that bike and I was striking a deal with my friend to officially take ownership of the Fun Wheels. This is where my bike hoarding really began. I now had two bikes for just me.

That was sometime in December, 2011, I believe. In January, I saw this cool YouTube vid where people had taken a picture of a bike in NYC everyday for a year and gradually watched the bike disappear. So, of course, this sounds like a brilliant thing for me to try. I began scouring Craigslist, and by the end of the day I acquired a rusted, vintage, blue Schwinn 3-speed. Perfect for my “Year of The Bike” garden photography project.

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I now had three bikes of my own, while everyone else had only one.

It gets better. Ever since last August, when my daughter purchased her beach cruiser with the balloon tires, I’ve been wanting one. One might ask, “Why?” I would respond to this inquiry with the explanation that I am learning that bikes are like shoes. You need a different one for each different occasion. The beach cruiser is a different kind of fun than Fun Wheels, and Garden Bike, though it is cute and cool and has gears, is too small and completely unrideable. I want a balloon-tire cruiser with a step through bar and a dorky basket on it so I can ride down to the corner liquor store or neighborhood sports bar for some adult beverages. (Wait. I forgot. I am not drinking hard liquor anymore since my diagnosis, and the soft liquor is the death knell to my 50 Less By 50 plan.) Revision: I’d really like a dorky looking beach cruiser around so I can ride it to the gym or grocery store for milk and bread or maybe even ride it to work. But I am way off the beaten bike path here.

Just this last week, I happened to visit a friend’s house. As I drove up, I noticed this cool, old, single-speed Huffy with big balloon tires in the front yard. Jokingly, I said I wanted the bike, obviously thinking that my friend would then tell me the story about how she got the bike and all the fun she’s having on it. Instead she said, “Take it!” Clearly, I thought she was joking. I mean, bikes are becoming more the rage now. Even in my small not-so-progressive city where most people still drive everywhere, even to the corner store, there is a small but growing bicycling contingent. Just yesterday, the weather broke. I saw someone on a bike at every corner as I was running errands. Beach cruisers, like my friend’s, can run $250 or more on Craigslist. I know, I’ve been looking. Daily. Here my friend was, offering me this great looking bike for free. Turns out, a friend of hers had abandoned it and she was tired of it sitting in her front yard. The Beau was stunned when I turned to him and asked for help putting it into the back of the Durango. The Youngest was just as shocked when she saw us unload it after arriving home.

That’s how we scored this beauty:

20120303-104424.jpg Sure, it needs some work. While the bike looked great just standing there in the yard, we discovered that it needs some serious cleaning, oil, and new wheels. I’m getting new grips, a new seat and a beautiful, white, dorky basket on the front. I’ll do more to improve it eventually, but this is about all I can afford right now. I dropped the Blue Cruiser off at my local bike shop yesterday, and it should be ready next week. Total damages are still significantly less than the same bike in good repair sells for on Craigslist. I can’t complain about that.

I now have four bikes of my own. We’re now an 8-bike household. I’m definitely a bike hoarder. With this last acquisition, a small seed of hope is sprouting in my hoarding, little, rationalizing brain. Maybe, I’m not really a hoarder at all. Instead, maybe I’m really a Bike Magnet!

If that’s the case, I’m now going to focus all my magnetic powers on that road bike I want. I saw one in the shop yesterday. Beautiful. My favorite colors even: black and white. Of course, I’d change the white bar tape to another color, like black. White handlebar tape never stays white. The price tag on this beauty? A mere $7,000 and some change. Yeah. Since the readership on this blog isn’t large enough to garner sponsors who will gift me with products for review, and since I am a single mom with limited financial resources, four children, and two (almost) in college, I’m going to need some serious magnetic power in order to get that bike from the stand in the bike shop to the stand in my garage.

I think it’s good to have dreams, even if they are of the pipe variety.

Afterward:
I left this post as a draft on my cell phone. Before 10, this morning, the guys at the bike shop called informing me that the bike was ready. We went out for a long ride and picked up the Cruiser after. I’ve included an “after” picture below. I think it looks beautiful!

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