August 13, 2012 – Love the One You’re With
For weeks, I put off taking my new bike into the shop for its much-needed 1,000 mile tune-up. It’s the height of biking season, and they said it might be as much as a week till I could get it back. Sure, I still have my daughter’s heavy old hybrid bike that I’d been riding happily until I spurned it for a lighter, cooler-looking bike five months ago. But I didn’t think I could bear to go back to commuting on the old workhorse.
Maybe it helped that this morning dawned cooler and less humid than it’s been for most of the summer. But the experience was like reuniting with an old lover that you’d tossed aside for someone more attractive but less practical, less attentive to your needs. Suddenly you remember all the things that were so good between you and wonder, what was I thinking? Here’s what I discovered on this morning’s ride.
Things I Love About My Old Bike
1. It’s stable. Not only can I ride it with two fully loaded panniers. I can also ride it with ONE fully loaded pannier and not feel thrown off balance.
2. Its big fat tires absorb shocks. I can bump over the many tree roots on the path without feeling like my teeth are about to rattle out of my head, and the long stretch of boardwalk on the Mount Vernon Trail is barely noticeable – not a seemingly-endless rumble.
3. It’s better for my body. I like the more aerodynamic position of my new bike, on which my body angles forward somewhat. But I’ve been experiencing wrist and low-back pain that I don’t seem to have on the old bike.
4. It’s just as fast. I thought I’d shaved time off my commute with the new bike. I usually note the time I leave the house, and then check the big clock on the Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue, which is just a few blocks from my office. Still 50 minutes! Apparently it’s not the better bike but that I’ve gotten stronger. Hooray! The bike is SO much heavier, but it has a wider range of gears and I feel like I get up the hills just as fast.
Things I Don’t Love About My Old Bike
1. The seat. That wide, squishy old “comfort” seat is positioned at an angle that makes me keep sliding down toward the nose. But a new seat is an easy fix.
2. Lifting it. There are things I now appreciate about its heavy weight – but lifting it onto the bus or car rack isn’t one of them. Also, there is no way I could get it onto a wall mount at work – but fortunately there are other locking options.
So, I think it’s time to have an open discussion with my bikes about polyamory. My commitment will be to stay fully present with the bike I’m riding – not fantasizing about the other bike or making unkind comparisons (“you’re overweight,” “you’re unstable.”) Each bike has strengths to recommend it, but nobody’s perfect. I can get a new seat for my old bike and try tweaking the seat and handlebar positions on the new bike to make it more comfortable. But mostly, I’m counting myself lucky to have two beautiful bikes that are only too happy to take me wherever I want to go. Oh, there’s also a third bike at my boyfriend’s house in Philly…but I don’t know if my Arlington bikes know about her yet. One thing at a time…