Its not me. Its the bike.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next person who leans out a car window and gushes at me, ‘oh i really admire you it’s so amazing that you ride your bike all over the island‘ is gonna get popped in the head. Listen: Its not me. Its the bike.

I am a five-foot-nuthin 51-yr-old woman. I’m no athlete, and I’m also no masochist. I’m a lazyass. I ride my bike because its fun and because it is easier than walking. Easier?! Yes. Riding a bike is actually supposed to be easy. And here’s another shocker: it’s not supposed to hurt.

Oh, I know. You have a big ol’ clunker of a bike. It has huge chunky tires, it is too big for you, the chain falls off, the tires are half-flat, and it is rusted to shit cuz you left it out in the rain all winter. It sucks to ride, so you don’t ride it. I wouldn’t ride your bike either. My neck and back would hurt, and I would sweat indelicately. Riding that bike would just be way too much work. Given the choice between riding your bike and any other way of getting there, I’d choose the other way. In my case most likely I’d hitch-hike, and you of course would drive your car.

You look at me with grave skepticism. Oh no, you say, a bike is a bike, and I’m just really not much of a bike person. But you, you are a superhero. Oh don’t make me barf. I say again, it’s not you. It’s your bike.

A bike that will be fun and easy to ride will be one that fits you, is in decent working condition, and has its tires fully inflated. That’ll work on the flats. But most importantly, if you want it to be easy to ride up a hill, you will need a good gear range, and you will need to use your gears. That my friends, is the ultimate secret to easy biking: gears. Gears will make it easy (if slow, but what’s the rush?) for you to ride up almost any hill, and they will allow you to continue to gain momentum on the downhill so you can whoosh halfway up the next one. A three-speed (or god forbid a single-speed) is not easier to ride than a 27-speed. It is harder. Gears are for lazy people, like you and me.

So you have a choice. You can smile wistfully and pretend that there is something genetically deficient in your body that makes you unable to locomote on two wheels instead of four. Or, you can lay down a minute amount of cash (in the big scheme of things) for a tuneup, a pair of thinner tires, or a new bike that is capable of getting you around without pain or hardship. You can have a bike that makes you think of excuses to ride it, instead of a bike that makes you think of excuses to not ride it. Any bike you actually ride is a good bike. But even if your bike was cheap or free, a bike you don’t ride is a rotten deal.

You can ride a bike or not ride a bike. I don’t care. Just, when you see me smiling as I spin slow and steady up a hill, don’t get all gushy at me. My bike is doing most of the work. I’m just along for the ride.

3 Responses to “Its not me. Its the bike.”

  1. Jim Kukula Says:

    Thinner tires are not really so great! Nice big fat tires make for a comfortable ride and on rough roads can be faster than skinny tires! But yeah for the road you want them on the smooth side.

    I leave my bike outside all the time – no place to keep it in the apartment along with the three of us, given that the other two put biking down around #400 on their priority list. I use Purple Extreme on the chain – it works pretty good!

  2. carmen Says:

    Cheapo tip: i made an excellent raincoat for my bike out of a tarp and duct tape. Easy to throw over and it keeps my bike dry. No rusty me happy.

  3. Linda LaForte Says:

    I do agree that a good bike does most of the work, but I suspect that you ride yours much more than I do. Just how big is that island? Please cut me some slack. I’m smaller than you, and I live in hot, hot, south Florida. I happen own a good 3-gear “comfort bike” so I can sit back and ride comfortably. Suits me. Gets me to the stores within 4 miles. Fortunately, I can keep it in indoors. Thanks for this blog entry. You reminded me that I need a bike tune up.

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