Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bicycles I Could Have Known (but it's best that I didn't!)

Although I am not one of those Watchmen-inspired real-life "superheroes" who dons a bright teal-and-silver spandex outfit and wreaks havoc on small-time drug lords, I have recently realized that I do, in fact, have a superpower. That is the power to walk a single mile. In Pittsburgh and other major cities, this superpower is less than impressive, as everyone can do it. But in suburbs and small towns, this becomes a mighty power indeed, something not shared by mere mortals who, apparently, would choose to drive the 5,280 feet (1,609.344 meters for my Canadian friends) to work if they were in my shoes.

For instance, I have recently had not one but TWO job interviews where my ability to walk to the interview site was not a brief sideline comment, but one of the main topics of discussion. People just can't believe that someone can walk that far! To be fair, some people can't walk that far, due to physical disabilities. But it's a little hard to believe that every person who has expressed incredulity at my ability to walk (and bike!) relatively tiny distances has an invisible disability. I guess I can chalk it up to the fact that, when you've never been without a car or driver's license (as, indeed, most people native to small towns/suburbia have not been, I am a unicorn), your judgment about whether things are walkable gets a little wonky. Will my judgment become similarly skewed when I get a license? Will I drive two miles to work, then drive five miles to a gym to ride a stationary bike? If so, I hope my death is swift, and its dealer just.

In other news, I recently got a new bike, and I'm kind of in love with it:

The best bike in the entire world. Much better than your bike.
It's a Raleigh Venture 4.0 ladies' cruiser bike, and the difference between this bike and the old department store bike is pretty much the difference between walking in good shoes versus walking in tissue boxes lined with steel wool and spiders. I am very, very happy with this bike. But, let's take a gander into the What-If Machine and see what other bikes I could have bought instead!

Nobody parties like a European!
1. Party Bike

First thought: Where do you attach the U-Lock?
Second thought: This would be an excellent bike to use if you want to recreate the "Friday" video. (Note: I first learned of this bike last week, when Rebecca Black was still relevant. Readers of the future, substitute your own meme!)
Third thought: Hey, is that guy in the bright blue shirt Tommy Wiseau's less talented younger brother?

2. Fixie

I don't even know what's going on here, but I know it can't be comfortable.
"Hey, guys, let's take a mode of transportation that already has some safety issues and remove most of the things that make it safe, like speeds and brakes! And let's not wear helmets, either!" Fixies are truly a method of natural selection for the white race*.

3. Tall bike
Yo dawg, I heard you like bikes, so I put a bike on your bike so you can fall over and die!
My first non-circus exposure to these was in the Portlandia "Dream of the Nineties" clip. I then learned that, yes, people (mostly in Portland, but a few other places too) DO ride these, and unlike penny farthings (which are still being made!) they don't even have antiquarian chic. I think tall bikes might actually edge out recumbent bikes as "dumbest bike idea ever," since there are legitimate disability-related reasons to ride recumbent bikes. Unless you're Robert Pershing Wadlow, leave the tall bikes for the dudes in Barnum and Bailey.

So, as you can see, it's quite fortuitous that I got the bike I did. Because it was clearly a decision between one of these three and my Raleigh.

*Interesting demographic note #1: At least 60% of the cyclists in Towson are black, and 100% of the people obviously engaging in utility cycling (as in, they have baskets or racks full of groceries or other items) are black (or will be until I get my basket). Sorta contradicts the "cycling is a white hipster activity" canard, although I think this is a demographic blip.

Interesting demographic note #2: 99% of the cyclists around here are guys. I get really happy when I see another woman on a bike, to the point that I will smile big and wave and probably lead her to think that I'm some kind of crazy person. Crazy about biking, that is!


  1. Your bike is tons better than any I'll be able to afford. I still need to get one, though.

    I don't remember that "Dream of the Nineties" clip. Good reason to go back and watch Portlandia again.

  2. There are tall bikes in Richmond, and the coffeeshop 3 blocks from my apartment even calls it's division in handroasted coffee "Tall Bike Coffee" because it is/was delivered on tall bikes.

    Fixies, of course, are more prevalent. Although admittedly, I've seen more unicycles lately than tall bikes.

  3. the difference between this bike and the old department store bike is pretty much the difference between walking in good shoes versus walking in tissue boxes lined with steel wool and spiders.

    OH yes! That's pretty much the difference between my Apollo and my old Target bike :-)

  4. Derek: This bike was only $300! List price, not sale! Granted, that is still a fair chunk of change, but considering that this bike will last at least twice as long as a department store bike (and Target's bikes average around $175 for a no-speed cruiser) and be so much more comfortable/sturdy, it's money well spent. I think the men's version was also $300. In general, Raleigh has some really nice bikes at (relatively) low prices.

    Also, here you go:

    Sarah: I almost added a unicycle to the list, but I actually wish I COULD ride a unicycle. Extreme unicycling is sort of mesmerizing to watch.

    Quincy: I had to get this bike because my other bike died (slipped a gear, or something... basically it was seizing up on every turn of the pedals), but I wish I would have upgraded sooner. I'd never ridden a quality bike before, so I didn't know that the shakiness and the tendency to swerve (I don't think the front wheel was quite straight) were not just "what a bike feels like."

  5. Another thing I discovered which I love is dual suspension! My old bike didn't have that, and now I don't know how I lived without it!

  6. There's a guy I see on the way to work sometimes who walks his German Shepherd while riding a unicycle on the sidewalk...which given the awfulness of Richmond sidewalks, is no easy task. That's kind of amazing.

  7. Bicycles I Could Have Known (but it's best that I didn't!) I have read your page and gotten more information from this page. I love exercise at my home by Recumbent Bike and very serious for my fitness. I want to buy new Recumbent Bike with my few friends recently so I am funding more information about this bike for exercise step by step. I want to share my experience writing about Recumbent Bike

  8. The Post seems to be good i really gather lot of information from the post thanks for sharing this awesome post. runnium