Tag Archives: Bicycle

Chasing One More Sunrise

13 Mar

I finally got my dream bike! Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Azor Carolina, a Dutch-style bicycle I’ve wanted for over a decade. Strange choice, I’ll admit, but mine. However, when your dream becomes reality, not everything works like you expected.

Let me start by explaining why I wanted a Dutch-style bike. I love cycling. Absolutely love it–it is one of the few forms of exercise I actually enjoy doing (along with fencing and badminton). However, from that statement, you can guess that I am not Lance Armstrong. In fact, I hover around 250 lbs (110-120 kg or 17-18 stone) Because I suffer from an overpowering sense of cheapness, I’ve never wanted to put that much money into a new bike. I usually got a used bike or an inexpensive new bike… and drove it into the ground, spending more on repairs than I would have if I just spent the money upfront.

My son Asher pulling the staples out of my new arrival.

However, after actually buying a nice bike, getting that stolen from my backyard, and then having my replacement cheap bike get run into the ground by my son, I decided to wait until I could buy a nice bike. Unfortunately, between our budget, and COVID spiking the demand for cheaper bicycles, it’s been at least half a year since I’ve been on a bike.

Then I received an inheritance from my grandma passing. Not something I expected, but a small pile of cash came into my lap, so I finally could buy the Dutch-style bike of my dreams. Why Dutch-style? Because the Dutch (and Danes, to a lesser degree) treat their bicycles like we treat cars–meaning, they don’t think much them. You start your commute, you get on your bike, and you ride. You don’t have to check you tire inflation or your oil your chain (although you should), you just peddle. So they build their bikes to take a LOT of punishment. Just to ensure the least amount of hassle, I made sure to get a fixie (single gear) with a coaster brake, because those are the things that mess up that I can’t fix by myself. It also lets you sit up and ride seated upright so that the experience is very comfortable.

Some assembly required.

Because most American bicycle companies either appeal to the suburban dad who wants to be Lance Armstrong or the suburban mom who just wants a comfortable bike to ride on the weekends, I actually turned to the Dutch. The Amsterdam Bicycle Company has amazing customer service and helped me pick out what I wanted. They’re also insanely in demand, requiring a two month window from purchase to build to arrival. Yowch.

Anyway, it arrived on Wednesday, and I was over the moon! It had actually was sent out from their shop in the Netherlands the week before, but because international shipping is… weird, it bounced around Holland for two days, because sitting two days in Paris, then finally jumping the pond to Atlanta, Indianapolis for US Customs (o-kay… why not Atlanta? Who knows!), and then the box arrived. It was 85% completed, and even with my mediocre repair ability, I could assemble the rest. Except there was no seat post… so I put my old bike seat on it so I could ride it. Also the wheels were wobbly, rubbing against the splash guards, so had to take it over to the bike shop to learn they were “out of true.” Faced with another two-to-three day repair wait, I just took off the splash guards, and rode it.

It rode like a dream. It also reminded me that my old bike seat really hurts my crotch, so after my first five mile ride, I decided to wear my bicycle shorts with the padding in it. After my second long ride, I was reminded… “Oh, right, I haven’t ridden for six months. I can’t go 14 miles round trip without exhausting myself!” So once I got home, I soaked my legs in an Epson salt bath, my butt is bruised from the uncomfy seat… but I feel great. I finally have wheels again.

It’s bright orange because after being in two bike accidents with cars, I aim for maximum visibility. My new ride will still have to go to the bike shop to make it perfect, but that can wait. Meanwhile, what do you think? Have I been too cheap for too long? What kind of bicycle do you ride? Let me know in the comments below!

While you’re commenting, why not pick up one of my books? If you’re cheap like me, and $1.99 is too high a bar for your budget, download one of my free stories! You’ll be glad you did.

My Bicycle vs. Arizona Summer

29 Jun

ROUND ONE… FIGHT!

Meet the Beast. It hasn’t earned its name yet, so for now, let’s call it the Beast. I ride the Beast because some #&#^$&*@ stole my nice red Specialized mountain bike from my own backyard! That beautiful bike that I bought in Connecticut, rode through a fierce New England summer and winter, and lovingly shipped back home to Arizona when my contract was through. Then in the Spring of 2019, some… person of ill repute took it and probably sold it for a dime bag; one-thirtieth of what it was worth.

So I bought a cheap black Roadmaster at a nearby liquidation store. It was $50; it wasn’t great, but it was new, and it worked! All was fine until one day in June 2019 I was riding home and I went down a ramp. The front brakes didn’t work. I drove shoulder-first into the pavement, broke my clavicle, and because I didn’t have insurance, let it heal on its own.

Arizona Summer wins!

ROUND TWO… FIGHT!

Four months later, my clavicle is healed without complications and I decide that it’s time to get back on the bike. The only problem is that I thought only the front tire was broken. So I get a new tire, put it on, problem solved, right? WRONG – front deraileur is bent so it only works in one set of gears, can only shift between two or three gears even without it, and I have to keep adjusting the handlebars.

After a month of trying to live with this, I say to myself, “You gotta get a new bike, man.” However, the wife won’t hear “Let’s pay $150-200 for a decent used bike.”

  • She says, “Why don’t you repair the bike you got?”
  • Problem? Repairs will run $50-70, if lucky, and will be worth more than the bike is.
  • Solution? Hit the Goodwill stores around me and see what they got.

I see a couple good bike, but they need serious repairs before they’ll function like they should. As a Scottish-American Jew, I’m doubly-cheap, and will not accept massive repairs that I can’t do myself. Also, I can’t do more repairs than change the tire. So I’m cheap AND mechanically inept. 🙂 So I happen to go around the back of a Goodwill and find a whole pile of stuff the Goodwill guy hasn’t brought into the store, including the Beast. So I just got the bike, replaced the tire, changed out the seat, and BOOM! I have a working bicycle again!

You win!

ROUND THREE… FIGHT!

Summer 2020 comes around, and with my kids stuck home doing school from home, they want to exercise. Except, I hadn’t replaced my son’s intertube in a while (reason: see above), so guess who gets to use my bicycle? Wouldn’t you know it? Intertube blows out.

Okay, not a problem, get a new intertube, get one for my son’s bike so that he can use his own bike for a while, and we’re golden, right? Heh. First day we replace my bike’s tube–flat again. Luckily, I had a thorn-resistant spare, but this time figured out the wheel was cutting into the actual tube input (sorry, don’t know the actual term). So we taped that up, no problem. While we’re at it, fixed Asher’s bike tire.

He goes on my bike again–BOOM! Same damn tire goes flat. Goes on his bike–BOOM! Both tires go flat. Thankfully, he wasn’t far from home, but walking it home half a mile in 100 degree heat, not fun.

Arizona Summer WINS!

CONCLUSION

We finally took our bikes to a new repair shop, the folks were very friendly, and we were fix my bike easy. (Tires inflated fine–not sure what happened.) My son’s bike is still in the shop because the supply chains messed up and there are no intertubes in that bike’s size.

So as brutal as Arizona Summers are, it’s not the 100 to 120 degree that’s gonna get you, it’s improper bicycle repair. 🙂

So what’s your worst bicycle disaster story? This is not mine (oh, not by a long shot), but let’s see if you can beat it. Put yours in the comment section below. Keep riding.

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