That money has just been sitting in my savings account but I never took the time to look for a bike. Then, last Sunday, as luck would have it, while I was cycling on the west side of Manhattan - (something I never do, I'm not a fan of the west side and pretty much avoid it) I happened to pass a huge bike shop called Hub on Charles St. And something immediately caught my eye - it was that amazing Yakkay helmet that one of my readers pointed me to months ago! I loved that helmet from the minute I first saw it online but had no idea where to buy it. And suddenly here it was, right in front of me. I tried it on and after some internal dialogue, where I ultimately justified the purchase, I bought it.
On my way out, I saw a bike that I loved instantly. It was a beautiful baby blue 7 speed bike by Biria. I asked a few questions about it, then left there with my helmet. But I couldn't stop thinking about that bike. I knew I had my $$ saved for a bike and thought about it for a few days. When I couldn't think of a reason to NOT buy it, I finally decided that was the one. That was the bike. And on Thursday, I picked it up from a shop called Velo in Union Square.
Here I am, right before leaving the shop (with my awesome new helmet):
I bought this bike without even test-driving it first. I figured why bother? No matter what, it wouldn't feel right and I'd buy it anyway. So, after a brief tutorial on how to ride a bike with gears and how to use hand brakes, I left the shop, bound for Brooklyn.
From the second I started riding everything felt so completely different that it was absolutely terrifying. The weight of the bike was obviously a huge change, it felt so light. The tires are so narrow that balancing felt weird. The seat and handlebars are in a totally different place, completely changing how I sit on it. And the hand brakes are just - well - very disorienting to say the least. Every time I had to stop, I pressed backward on the pedals only to have them keep spinning instead of stopping me. It scared the crap out of me every time.
That ride home was the scariest bike ride I've ever had in NYC in my 3 years of riding. It took me nearly an hour to get home (it would normally take 30 minutes from there). And I was just so uncertain and uncomfortable the entire time. I realize it's a new bike but it's so different that I just can't imagine how long it's going to take me to get used to it.
I expected to fly up the Williamsburg Bridge, based on comments from people about how much harder it is to ride a cruiser up a hill like that. But no matter what gear I was in, it didn't feel drastically different/easier/faster.
I took her out again the next night after work - just for a short spin around my neighborhood to try to get used to her a little bit. The first thing I did was brought her to B's Bike Shop and checked the tire pressure. Turns out the rear tire was only inflated to 15!!!! (it should have been 60-75), so that could be why the bridge ride didn't seem so different. I inflated both tires to the right pressure and while I was there, I was bombarded with questions from the B's staff and other cyclists who recognized me and were shocked to see me without the cruiser. So let me address those points here too, since so many of you have asked about the new bike and what this means for the Hello Kitty Cruiser...
First I'll tell you what I told Andre (my favorite employee at B's): Riding a new bike is like being with a new lover - all the parts may be the same, but they're a slightly different size and shape; they don't feel quite the same and I just have to get used to them. But even when I'm used to this bike - I am NOT getting rid of the cruiser! Ever! I love that bike! She and I have such a special bond and I am so comfortable on her that I would never, ever get rid of her! She's still going to be my main bike. I'm only going to use this new bike for distance - I figured for 100 plus mile tours. For everything else, like my usual biking around the hood, around Manhattan, tours, errands, meeting up with all of you - I will still be using the cruiser.
So I hope that addresses all your concerns and questions. In the meantime, you'll sleep soundly knowing the Professor is guarding both of my bikes:
The only drawback is that the apartment is getting awfully crowded! :)