After years of resisting getting a bike again (mostly because bike storage in a small apartment is a pain in the butt, and because I resented the stupid helmet law), I have succumbed to the call of the open road, beautiful weather, and low Walmart prices. In short, I have bought a big beast of a Dutch-style cruiser bike from Huffy, with a back rack for carrying heavy stuff and everything. And I bought LED headlights (and my first helmet, ugh, yuck, though at least they’re not as bad as they used to be). There’s a cheaper version of this bike, but I didn’t like the colors as well. I’ll put up with the weird licensing for a better color and the sturdy back rack. (And you can even pull it out 6 or 8 more inches, if you’ve got a bigger pack to carry.)
The downside and the upside (given my own overweight) is that the cruiser bike is sturdy and comfortable because it has a heavy frame made of iron. Over 40 pounds of bike doesn’t make storage easier, and there’s a lot of momentum once you really get going, between my weight and the bike’s. However, this allows you to have wider tires, a bigger seat, better weight distribution, etc. It’s not a frail fragile flower of bikehood, and there’s not a lot of gears to worry with. Heck, I could ride this thing in a _skirt._
I’m not super-sure that I didn’t pick a bike that’s a little big for me. (I have to swing my leg pretty high. So if I did ride this thing in a skirt, I’d have to learn a new style of mounting. And get those skirt fastener things.) But pretty much every bike I’ve ever had was a little big for me, and the next size down seemed like a clown car that put my knees up to my ears. Aeh, the joy of standardized sizing.
So I went out this morning before it really got light, so I could really try out the bike on the local bike path, without menacing others. LED bike headlights are pretty sweet, although I was using them in pre-dawn conditions and not in full dark. The bike path is wonderfully well kept up and paved, and I did five miles without really feeling all that tired. I also saw every rabbit in the tri-state area, lots of geese and ducks, and a really beautiful sunrise. I rested a little bit at a stopping place, got some water at a drinking fountain, and went home the shorter but somewhat more dangerous way along some fairly high traffic streets. I think I would have been better off taking the bike path home instead, frankly, although most of the time I was safe enough. All in all, I think I did about nine miles today. I’m tired and my muscles got a little workout, but I’m not worn out or sore. And I didn’t fall on my head or crash into a car, so it must be counted as a successful ride. The major problem is that my head sweats and sweats in that helmet, even with all the open fretwork of it. (Oh, well, I was going to wash my hair anyway.)
See, I’m not exactly out of shape. It’s just that I’m not exactly in shape, either. And of course, most of my exercise is not terribly brisk, so I don’t get the most out of it. Maybe if I start biking faster, that will help?
My suburban town was not well suited to biking, because all the roads had pretty narrow shoulders and lots of ups and downs when I was a kid, and drivers didn’t have much way to see bikers very far ahead, or anywhere to go if they came upon them suddenly. So we pretty much could only ride our bikes fairly slowly and on our own street, or in a few nearby plats. (And you were taking your life in your hands to cross the high traffic roads.) So of course a lot of kids would just go into some vacant lot or woods area and use their bikes as “dirt bikes”. My first bike was actually a girl’s dirt bike-style little kid bike, which was probably one of the few “cool” possessions of my childhood. That thing held up forever, unlike my ten speed.
I gather that things are more bike-friendly now, but I don’t live there now. :)
But yeah, biking is definitely different when you’re only having to look out for bikers and animals, instead of cars and more cars. And the bike path is several counties’ long, and links up with the whole state bike path system. So if the weather stays nice and I don’t push myself too far, I could actually go biking all day sometime. Pretty strange concept.
I think I love my new Huffy as much as I loved my very first bike, which was also a Huffy. They make you want to ride and ride.
(I would link to a picture of my awesome yellow and black Sweet Thunder BMX-wannabe bike with the yellow banana seat and knobby tires and yellow handgrips, but I appear to be the only girl in creation who got one of the yellow ones that really did look BMX. A lot of 80′s pink ones out there, though.)