Sunday, April 23, 2017

From Greenie to Snowflake

Last month, I bought a new bike.

This might not sound like a life-altering purchase, right up there along with buying a house or even a new car, but I've actually been in the market for a new bike since before I even started shopping for a new house (that was in early 2015), and in many ways, it has been an even tougher decision! I wanted to make sure that when I bought a bike, everything about it would be perfect. Which meant, of course, that I simply never bought a bike at all.

What finally spurred me to move from bike shopping to bike buying? Plain old-fashioned desperation. My old bike, Greenie, had been around the block a few (hundred) times, and he was really starting to show his age. At some point a few years ago, I tried to replace the front shifter cable, failed at that, and finally removed the front derailer entirely. Ever since then, my chain has been prone to falling off when I go over bumps. Pretty much everything else on the bike was equally out of tune. My problem downshifting into fifth gear hadn't improved in the 4 years since I first noticed it; the brake pads were on their last legs; and, the last straw in a cavalcade of minor annoyances, the pedal makes a scraping noise whenever it turns. It had progressed beyond my ability to fix it (make it worse) myself, but it didn't seem worthwhile to take it into a shop to be goaded into some temporary semblance of repair.

It was time for an upgrade! For real this time! A little before Christmas, I took the plunge and ordered myself a bike on Amazon. My boyfriend's Christmas present to me was professional assembly by our local bike shop. A few days after Christmas, we picked it up at the shop to was the wrong size! I had ordered a small and somehow ended up with a fully assembled (at the cost of almost as much as the bike itself) extra large!

With disappointment, a bit of shame (why had I not checked the box to verify I'd received the right size!?), and a certain amount of trepidation (would they accept my extremely costly-to-ship return in the not-original packaging?), I sent the bike back (they refunded me) and spent a few months wallowing in uncertainty. By this time, the fantastic deal I'd received on the first bike was unavailable, and I was beginning to have my doubts about whether I'd have liked that bike even if it had been the correct size.

Returning to the drawing board, I revised my expectations a little. I knew it wasn't very likely that I would find the bike of my dreams on the first try, especially since I was switching to a completely different breed of cycle—a road-leaning hybrid style after a lifetime of riding a mountain bike! So on my second round of serious bike shopping, my top priority was price. I would make some compromises, get a bike that would under no circumstances cost more than 400 dollars, I would find out what I liked and disliked about it, and then the next time I was in the market for a bike, I would know better what to look for.

Since I hadn't been so keen on the first bike I'd ordered online, I decided to give a local bike shop a chance to sway me. I tried a couple of mid-range hybrid bikes, at a significantly higher price than the ones I'd been looking at online. Both of them rode so much more smoothly than Old Greenie, I was almost convinced I could love them...except they were black. I hate to say that the single strongest factor deterring me from the purchase of these otherwise good bikes was their uninspiring color. But I I hop on my bike at least 12 times a week and spend 3+ hours weekly riding it. If I couldn't feel even the tiniest spark of enthusiasm when I look at it, I just couldn't commit to buying it!

A few days later, I finally found the perfect "starter bike" on the Performance Bicycles website. It wasn't black. It wasn't a beautiful shade of aqua like my second-choice model either, but it was also cheaper by almost a hundred dollars, so I decided that white was a good, affordable compromise. I was sold when I learned that it would come with free assembly and lifetime adjustments by Performance!

So finally I found myself in possession of my new bike! As I always do when I receive a new shiny thing, I waited a few weeks to give it a name, to see what really suited it. The name that kept coming back to me was Snowflake.

No, it may not be the most creative name out there, but I think it embodies the spirit of freedom and ease that I'm trying to achieve with my newer, faster, lighter wheels. My old bike (Greenie) had been named after its color, so it seemed it appropriate to keep the tradition alive. I'll probably never ride this bike in the snow, so its name adds just a touch of subtle irony as well.

I wanted to introduce you, my loyal readers, to this bike now, because, with the change in my lifestyle that comes from changing my bike-style, I'm sure I'll have a lot of stories in the future about how I'm adjusting to my new ride.