Tuesday, October 7, 2008

anniversaire heureux

today my bike is two years old.
well, it's actually older than that, but it has been in my possession for two years, today, and thus it is a day of celebration!
this is the story of how I came to own my bike:

once upon a time I owned only a mountain bike, and I rode that mountain bike up and down the streets, determined to get my body and mind in shape. I discovered that I enjoyed riding this bike, and that I loved the peaceful mornings and the feeling of being on my bike. one day, I went to a bike shop to look for some new bike shorts. as I was paying, the nice salesman asked me questions about what kind of bike I had, and where I rode it. I told him I had a mountain bike, but that I only rode it on streets anymore, not having been on a trail for at least a year. to which he replied, gee, why don't you get a road bike?
speechless, I just stared at him, and finally just smiled and said, yes, someday, I should, shouldn't I?
"why don't you get a road bike?" well at that time, I could come up with about a thousand reasons why not, and they all had dollar signs in front of them.
but as the weeks went by, that little question hung out in the back of my mind. why don't you get a road bike? why don't you why don't you why don't you . . .
so I started looking at road bikes. and learned what a "drop bar" bike is. (duh: it's a bike whose handlebars drop down, as opposed to mountain bikes whose handlebars just go straight across.) and felt like an idiot. and test rode one, feeling like the wiggliest, least stable thing on two wheels. I worked on the financial end of things, and came to a place where I figured investing in a bike was really an investment in my health (little did I know just how far that little investment would go.)
and finally I went to a store determined to buy a bike.
it was REI, because the other bike shops I had visited just intimidated me too much: too many guys who knew too much about something I knew too little of. contender, canyon bicycles, bingham: it didn't matter; they were all full of guys who knew everything there was to know about bicycles, and I'm not sure they thought old women like me should be riding one, anyway.
it was the first friday evening in october. I'd been there at REI the week before, and had been given a pretty good education on different bikes that were available and likely to be appropriate for me. lots of bikes were on sale, as it was the end-end-end of biking season. which was good. and the nice salesman, after a good hour or so, helped me choose a beautiful silver cannondale that I got quite excited about.
"let's get you out there, let you test ride it." my heart fluttered, my pulse raced.
he found a helmet for me, took my driver's license in case I absconded with the pretty little thing, and walked me out to the front doors of the store.
where he stopped, looked outside, and said, "uh-oh."
I looked out, and saw a curtain of water falling from the sky.
"I don't think you're going out in this."
crushed, I followed him back to the bike shop counter, and handed the helmet back over to him.
"can you come back tomorrow?"
deep sigh. "okay. will you keep it for me?"
he nodded, and walked my pretty new silver cannondale off to the back room. I watched him go, feeling like a parent who had just left their newborn infant with a brand new babysitter.
the next day, october 7, I showed up at REI ready to ride. the sun was out, peaking through a handful of clouds, and I was excited to see my new bike.
at the counter a different salesman went off to get my bike, then got me a helmet, took my license, and walked me to the door.
he leaned the bike my way, then said, "uh-oh."
I looked outside: the sky was clear. I looked back at him.
"let me see you straddle this bike."
I did.
"okay, I'm going to hold it, I want you to sit and hold onto the handlebars, and pedal."
I did.
"I can't send you out on this bike."
my heart dropped down to my shoes.
"this bike is too big for you~ let's go back there and take a look at what else we've got."
he wheeled my pretty silver bike back to the racks of bikes, and I drug my feet, made heavy by the added weight of my heart, along behind him.
he put my beautiful shiny silver bike away, and started to look at what else was there on the floor. I moped. soon he left to go look through paperwork, searching for what bikes on the floor might be in my size. I stared at the pretty silver bike I couldn't have. I moped some more.
he came back out and showed me a few other options, then returned to the filing cabinet. then came back, and showed me another possibility. none of them were pretty shiny silver bikes. and then he pulled another bike out from a rack, and said, "now this is really similar to the other one, but it's a tri-bike." it had aero-bars on the front (narrow bars, parallel to the wheels, that shot out from the middle of the handlebar so that you could rest your forearms there as you rode your triathlon.)
it was a cannondale, but it was a frosty pale blue, not a beautiful shiny silver.
he had me sit on it, he adjusted the seat. I sat again, he measured this and that. he had me pedal, he adjusted something else. forever and a day later, he said, I want you to go ride this one.
and I did.
and that is how I came to own a frost blue cannondale tri bike. they replaced the double ring crank set with a compact double for me, helped me find a flashing tail-light, had me fill out a county bike license form, polished it up (okay, not really), and sent me on my way.
for its anniversary today, I think I will degrease and lube the chain and the rear derailleur, and maybe even give the whole bike a little wash. it could also use some new handlebar tape, maybe that would be a nice little present for it . . . maybe I could even find some tape in a pretty silver color . . . for although I love my bike, there will always be the memory in my mind of a beautiful shiny silver bike that was almost mine.

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