a few good bikes...

Once upon a time, one bike was enough for me. That was then; this is now-- September 2013.

Then I rode for fun and occasionally to get from point A to point B. I rode around the neighbourhood, sometimes alone but often with my sons. I rode to the library or the swimming pool, usually with one more more of my sons. I rode to the beach or to the blueberry trail -- again, usually with my sons. One all-purpose bike was adequate. I remember that the bike was a blue step-through. Other than that, I don't remember much. Was it older or newer? What brand was it? What kind of handlebars did it have? These things are lost in time.

Now I have more than one bike. Sometimes, as when someone feels compelled to point out that there are plenty of people in the world who would love to have even one bike, I am a little embarrassed by this fact, but when I feel this way, I remember that I use all the bikes. A lot. For different purposes, at different times, in different ways.

I ride to work every day. Although I don't live in the city where I work, I don't drive the whole distance. I drive to the west end of the city, park my car and ride the rest of the way -- about 9 km.

For my daily commute, my ride of choice is Silver, a Trek 7.2 step-through city bike. This bike is my newest acquisition and I bought it brand-new at United Cycle after my garage-sale step-though bike was stolen.
Silver - my commuter bike
Silver -- named for her colour and in honour of the Lone Ranger's mount -- is fast, lightweight and comfortable. Because of the upright riding position and the step-through frame, I can wear my regular clothes, even skirts. I've equipped her with a small front pouch for my cell phone, camera and keys and with a back rack that accommodates my panniers and a rack pack.

I also like to ride on the country roads outside town. A commuter bike is not ideal for this. Until recently I used Beatrice, my Specialized Vita flatbar road bike, and the only other bike I purchased brand new.

This bike is also lightweight and comfortable, and since I bought her at the end of April, I've put on almost 1500 km on country roads north and south, east and west, of town. Early on, I switched out the platform pedals for clipless pedals and as an astute observer might deduce from her right handgrip, I took a fall or two while adjusting to the new system.

Why Beatrice, you ask? Well, "vita" is of course the Latin word for "life" and the name Beatrice means "voyager through life." Perfect, ne c'est pas?
Beatrice is a lovely bike, but after riding her for a few months I became convinced that I was ready to move up a notch and try a for-real road bike with drop handlebars.

So, after setting a price (low) I combed Kijiji and test-rode a few different bikes, finally settling on Milly, a 2007 Trek 1000 women's specific design. I can't say it was love at first ride, but by the second or third outing, I was sure I was onto a good thing. I've had this bike for less than two weeks and have already put on about 300 km. It came with platform pedals (designed to be used with toe cages) and so far I haven't changed them. If I can bring myself to fork out the bucks for yet another set of pedals, I'd like to get the dual-purpose style so I can ride with or without cycling shoes.
Milly, the Trek 1000
Next in the line-up, we have Rosie, my vintage Baycrest Hurricane 10-speed, made in Canada, circa 1978. This was bought as a cheap transition bike, to help me decide whether I really wanted a road bike with dropbars and skinny tires.  I rode this type of bike throughout junior high, high school and university, but that was a long time ago, and I wasn't sure how comfortable I'd feel. This bike, although old and somewhat heavy, is a pretty sweet ride, and she looks good, too. And thanks to her, the switchover to a modern road bike was easy. But I might put her up for sale at next spring's bike swap. I have to confess that she has served her purpose and I don't really need her anymore.

Rosie - a Baycrest Hurricane

Miranda, my miracle bike, was in days gone by my commuter bike. We bought her several years ago from United Cycle, used, for $200. I am keeping her on standby for the messy rainy days that are inevitable in the fall and spring. This will allow me to keep Silver in like-new condition for a longer time. Miranda's name comes from her brand name, the GT Tempest and from her magical qualities. (In Shakespeare's The Tempest, Miranda is the daughter of Prospero the magician.) I consider her a miracle bike because she has served me so well for such a variety of rides, including almost three years of daily commutes, my first long road trip on the Icefields Parkway and my early days of road cycling. Like her rider, Miranda is getting older, but she is strong and fit and with care should last another few years.

Miranda the Miraculous
Finally, we have Clyde, nearing retirement age, but not quite ready to give up his work as my winter commuter. Clyde is a Raleigh mountain bike. Like Miranda, he was discovered in the used-bike section at United Cycle. For $99 we bought him to serve as a spare bike when we still had 3 or 4 sons at home. No one liked to ride him, however, and he sat neglected in a corner of the shed until I decided I wanted to ride to work in the winter. I actually started commuting in the winter, in February of 2010, when temperatures were mild and there was not a lot of ice on the ground. Clyde turned out to be just the ticket; with his knobby tires, front suspension and sturdy frame, he was able to plough through slush, coast over rough spots and speed along with the best of them when he hit some smooth clear pavement. I didn't have to worry about whether I was going to ruin my bike; Clyde was rough and tough and seemed able to handle anything. I've even ridden him a few times for long country rides. Recently I changed the hand grips, thanks to the advice from this YouTube video, and cleaned and oiled the chain; and I'm hoping to use him again this winter.

Clyde the Raleigh workhorse

No comments: