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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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A Windy Saturday in March

It was shaping up to be a disappointing Saturday.  Face it, during the school year, for a teacher, the best and most wonderful day to ride is Saturday, weather permitting.  Sunday rides have to be shortened due to getting ready for the week.  Rides during the week must be shortened due to running out of daytime.

This Saturday, was beginning to look like it was going to be a wasted one where riding was concerned. The weather was perfect, but the night before, my Significant Other broke a spoke on his back tire.  We both thought one or the other of us had hit a rock, but no, it was his back wheel. It shortened our ride that evening significantly.  Since we were six miles out with no other transportation available he rode the six miles home on it. On the return trip I watched his rear wheel wobble more and more with each mile. We definitely needed to head into the Bike Shop for that repair.

To make matters worse, my bike was creating all sorts of annoying rattles, creaks and squeaks.  In particular, there was this loud and very irritating click, click, click on every down stroke of my right pedal.  My bike most of the time, is entirely silent when I ride, so I was fairly worried that it was complaining so loudly to me on this first ride off the trainer.

The combination of these woes, cut our ride short on Friday night.  It also meant that our first objective Saturday morning was to get the bikes into the shop to see what and how serious the trouble was. We feared the worst, that our bikes wouldn’t be back out of the shop until Monday.

I can go into all the details of what exactly was wrong, but that’s boring for most people and I don’t yet have all the vocabulary to adequately convey what was wrong.  In the end, what we thought was going to mean missing a weekend of riding really only ended up delaying our Saturday ride, by a couple of hours.  The guys at Marty’s Cycle and Moore literally dropped what they were doing and fixed both our bikes right there on the spot.  They didn’t have to do this, but we are so grateful they did.  About an hour and $47 later, we were walking out the door with our bikes healed.

We wasted no time getting on the road, since we heard rain was on the way.  I figured we still had about 20 miles to go to make our hundred for the week, so we needed to get on the road quickly.  After some waffling about whether to take it easy on the greenway or hit the hilly road and head out in the country, we opted for the road. We definitely took the more difficult option.  The roads between Central Point and Gold Hill are not for the weak.  In fact, there are several really intense, long hill climbs on Old Stage Road between Scenic Avenue and the I-5.  These climbs weren’t made any easier by the presence of a very strong headwind and the fact that we were riding hybrids instead of road bikes.  Even in our marginal fitness condition, we would climb those hills faster on a road bike.  Which, makes me really want a road bike very soon.  This in turn depresses me, because I don’t believe that will be my reality for at least another year.  But I digress.

We inched up those hills at a whopping 5-6 miles per hour.  It was the toughest 5-6 mph I’ve ridden to date. Every muscle in my legs burned (this is good), I was fighting for every breath, and I even felt as though I might vomit at one point (yeah, that’s probably not so great).  Then suddenly, about halfway up the climb, I hit the right gear and, crazy as it seems, I was able to almost rest while I climbed.  I was still pushing hard, but I caught my breath and kept going. I felt a small amount of comfort when after glancing back I realized the Significant Other was suffering just as much as I was.

The downhill on the other side made it all worthwhile.  Except that the headwind slowed our descent significantly. We were still having to push even when going downhill.

It was a crazy ride.

Upon arriving in Goldhill, we stopped in at a little dive bar called the Longbranch Saloon.  It clearly was the place to be on a Saturday afternoon.  We tied up our mechanical horses and stepped into the local watering hole to quench our thirst and gear up for the ride back.

Instead of coming back the way we came (read, we chickened out and tried to get out of facing those hills again) we opted for the Blackwell Road route home.

I’ve heard that one of the cycling rules of the road is that you always have a map and a repair kit with you.  At minimum, you should know where you are going, shouldn’t you?  We had the repair kit, but we had no idea where we were going.  All I knew was that if I took Blackwell Road in far enough it was going to come out somewhere near I-5 and Central Point and I could probably find my way home from there.  The SO was following me blindly, trusting that I knew where we were going.  Little did he know…

Blackwell Road proved to be just as challenging as Old Stage Road in its own way.  The climbs weren’t as steep, but they were longer.  Trying to avoid the work, and really wishing by this time that we had some more level terrain to deal with and no wind, we turned onto Tolo Road.  Around the corner, there it was, another hill and beyond that one, another.  At this point, my entire body felt like mush and I wondered seriously if we were going to make it home without having to get off and walk…or call for help. Just as we wondered if we should turn around and head back we saw Scenic Avenue in the distance and knew we were within 3 miles of home.  From the intersection ahead, the ride was going to be a nice downhill ride leveling off once we reached town. We knew we were going to be okay.

We rode the hardest 25 miles we’ve ever ridden since beginning our cycling adventures.  We hit our highest speed on a downhill of 29 miles per hour, which means we were flying on our bikes, and dead if we’d fallen. We returned home tired, but happy, because we’d pushed ourselves way out of our comfort zone and succeeded.

We stepped up to a new level in our riding.  Hill work is now going to be a regular part of our riding.  It has to be. There’s nothing more painful at first, but it is so rewarding when you crest that hill knowing you still have gears left to shift and energy left to ride.

When we got home, I turned to the SO and said, “You know, that was a really hard ride.  How many people do you know that could have stayed with us on that? I think, other than the guys at the bike shop, I know about two.  Those two would have dusted us, but other than that…I can’t think of  anyone who could have done 25 miles uphill both ways like we just did.”

Not too bad for an ole fat lady pushing 50.

 

 

Facing Fear…In Small Increments

Summer 2011

I’m sitting out on my back deck watching my two youngest children swimming with the son of one of my friends. It is the first year in the last three that my pool has stayed clear without having to dump hundreds of dollars of chemicals into it and hours of labor. The difference this year? I changed the sand in the filter. I knew that this was a project that needed to be done, but I was understandably intimidated by the aspect of dismantling the filter on my own, clearing out the old sand and refilling it with the new clean sand without breaking or messing something up. Contrary to popular belief, there are some kinds of technology that terrify me. I guess I had to give myself the winter just to build up enough nerve to try to attempt it. As it was, had I not had help, I’m not sure I would have tackled it. However, I had help, I overcame my fear and found that was I was afraid of was was not that big a deal. It wasn’t an easy project but it wasn’t that tough either.
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I’m In Love

00387502It’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.

But wait, there’s more