There are two things you should know about riding a bike: it should be easy, and it should not cause you pain.
This is what I say to customers in the shop when they are hesitant about buying a new bike. They look at me skeptically, expecting that, like dental work or pilates camp, riding a bike will be painful and difficult and expensive. But they are prepared to shell out because they are convinced that it will be good for them. They say, “well, but I’m not really serious about cycling. I don’t intend to ride it very much”. I say: cycling isn’t supposed to be serious. Let’s find you a bike that will be comfortable. A bike that will be easy to ride uphill and fast to ride downhill. A bike that fits you and makes you feel good. When you find that bike you just might really want to ride it more than you think. When you look at that bike your heart will swell with love. You might even want to ride it all the time.
The customer nods, coming around a bit to the idea that cycling can be fun. “But what if it gets stolen?” Well, I say, you get a good lock. You learn to lock it up carefully. Then you just ride it and love it and appreciate every joyful moment it brings.
I was scared to take my own advice, but it was a dare. Once again (dammit!) I was called to stand by my words.
I went ahead and ordered the bike from the manufacturer: my mail-order bride. I had never ridden this exact bike, although I had tested the frame style and size and knew it felt good. But, what if it doesn’t fit me? What if I hate it? It’s so pretty, too pretty… I drove my friends crazy with dithering. So nervous, I didn’t sleep for days. Even with my big discount it was a lot of money to spend, two weeks’ wages at the shop. But I had to stand by my own words: a new bike is something I could not afford to not afford.
Believe it, my own advice has turned out to be true. That ache deep in my hip that I had almost come to accept as permanent, is finally, miraculously, healing. I am stronger and healthier than I’ve felt for two years. Last week I rode to Roberts Creek and back, a hilly ride I usually need to psych myself up for. The ride was delicious and when I got home I wondered, why was that so easy? Ah right. I can ride, I can feel, I am thoroughly alive.
I am deeply in love with my mail-order bride. The more I ride, the better I feel.
5 Comments on “Mail-order bride”
Carmen, thanks so much for all your delicious words. I admire your work so much I’ve nominated Bicycle Buddha for a Lovely Blog Award. Read all about it: http://wp.me/p1ro3Q-kF.
P.S. Did you ever get your journal back?
this is inspiring, because i have rarely been able to ride a bike without pain somewhere in my leg. what shop are you working at? maybe i just need a pro to fit me
And thank you for the encouragement…maybe it’s a mutual-inspiration society: Tess and Rayann’s blogs are among the best i’ve seen and i suggest you all take a taste of their hearty words and images:
Tess Wixted: Suhurat…Day’s End http://suhuratdaysend.wordpress.com
Rayann: Rayan (con)text http://missteapants.blogspot.com
I work at the Bike Doctor on Broadway, across from MEC – I am usually there thurs/fri/sat from 10 to 6, let me know if you are coming, would be great to talk to you about it. But really, if it hurts when you ride, get a new bike. It’s not you, it’s the bike.
AND no, i didn’t find my precious thing…gate, gate, paragate, it is all practice.
Thanks for your great service on the bikes for my wife and I. We love them! We are enjoying riding more than ever. Thanks for the positive attitude and helpful info. Keep rockin.
Carmen, Could you give a brief primer on how to find your bride? Many (most?) people ride the bikes that come their way, which often means riding bikes that make them uncomfortable and force them to work harder than they need to. They assume that all bikes are like this and often quit riding. I live in a hilly city that is only just beginning to become a little bike friendly. It would be nice if I could direct my fellow Pittsburghers to some information on how to find a cyclist-friendly bike. Thanks! Audrey