Oh, Amsterdam, you inspired me to ride a bike! But I don’t have one, so I must buy the perfect bike to match the bell I bought while I visited your charming streets with endless bike lanes and maniacal bike riders.
Why is this a generational issue, you might ask? Because I am old and starting a physical activity most people my age started when they were much younger. Younger generations: HELP me! Those who are old, like me: JOIN me! I am h*ll-bent on a cardio experience outside of the gym (which you already know if you follow me on Facebook, I pretty much loathe)!
I consulted the experts at Performance Bikes
in Chandler, AZ. I naturally assumed I should buy a little single-speed beach cruiser. For a hundred bucks, I could just get on the road.
But the lovely Tonya, who helped me, convinced me that there was more to it than just “getting on the road.” She asked about my body, my aches and pains (low back), and my “cycling goals” (really? Just getting on the road isn’t a goal?). The city where I live has an extensive canal system with paved bike trails. My grocery store is just a mile away. Those were my two immediate goals:
- to ride the canal for fun and fitness
- to make trips to the grocery store in late fall, winter and spring to reduce my carbon footprint (summer in AZ is hot mess, more than a cruise around the block is too much.)
1. Choose the TYPE of bike.
Tonya suggested that if I went on a long ride on the canal, even though it was flat, I would really appreciate an easier speed on the way home. An easier speed might even result in a longer ride–and I liked the sound of that. So a beach cruiser was eliminated. Because I am not much of a dirt person, a mountain bike was ruled out too. This leaves me with a “hybrid” bike. This bike gives me the flexibility of choosing handlebars that keep me sitting upright (think Wizard of Oz) to keep the pressure off my low back. It gives me gears if I get really good at this and decide to ride longer distances. It gives me slightly wider tires, good for road cruising and effective if I have to use a dirt path on some segments of my ride.
Choose the SIZE of bike
The seat should adjust up as far as your hoo-ha when you stand. You can measure (I did–32 inches
from crotch to floor), and then check the sticker on the inside of the bike stem to be sure it will adjust to the right size. Tonya showed me a chart and I needed to shoot for “700C.” I am not sure what that translates to, but I am about 5’2″ when I am on tiptoes. She showed me on the bike “stem”–the piece that goes from pedal to seat–a sticker with numbers. If it says “700C,” it the right size for me.
Choose the PRICE
Tonya showed me bikes from under $200 to over $2,000. There are so many to choose from, but I felt like I needed to keep it simple. I left the store with Tonya’s tutorial playing on a loop in my mind. Who knew there were so many details to consider??
I decided to look for a used 700C hybrid bike under $100. If I really love it, I can upgrade later. I’m not much of a fix-it person, so the bike for me needs to be in good repair–like nearly new!
Find the bike
I hit Craigslist
while the hubs and I were watching our evening TV shows. He never even suspected I was shopping for a new interest on the opposite side of the sectional!
34008725 – green mint bicycle in the room
When I saw a mint green Schwinn like the one in this picture, my heart skipped a beat! A blue bell on those handlebars would make it sparkle! And perhaps I might also sparkle! I emailed about it and made an appointment to see it the next day. By the next day, it was gone. GONE!
We have all experienced that kind of disappointment. We think that something is perfect–so perfect it will change our lives. But there is a greater plan. Even about a second-hand bike.
OK, God. I’ll roll with this. But I’d prefer to be rolling on the perfect bike! Stay tuned….