Biking Bum


I seemed to have spent most of my week shopping for a bicycle. I felt like a “bike bum”. At each bike store, I learned a few more things about biking. I saw more equipment and features that I wanted on my bike.

I had settled on a hybrid bike for our Mountains-to-Sea trek past the mountains. Let’s not forget why I’m doing this.

Of course, it was not that simple. Within that category, there are fitness, comfort, commuter bikes and others, I’m sure. With each new bike I rode, I got more confused.

Then I went to Pro-Bikes in West Asheville. Marti, the owner, introduced me to disk brakes. Unlike rim brakes, disk brakes are a sealed unit and are not as affected by rain and dirt. They sounded much safer to me. This feature has moved down from mountain bikes and of course raises the price. Each time, I learn something new, the price goes up.

So armed with this new requirement – disc brakes – I continued my search. The next place I went to said “Disc brakes are good. There are two types of disc brakes. Do you want hydrolic brakes?” Up went the price again.

I called up Jim, my publisher at Milestone Press and the author of several bike books. Though he is a bike expert, he said that I didn’t need hydrolic brakes. Good.

I went to a bookstore and browsed through several books on biking. All these experts tell you to buy what feels comfortable but you don’t test ride all the bikes under the same condition. Some shops will let you go out in a parking lot, others on the streets. Some will rent bikes, others don’t.

Today, I rented a bike from Pro-Bike and took it to Carrier Park. They outfitted my car with a bike rack and off I went.

The Park has to be the easiest, flattest place to ride but still I wasn’t comfortable. I tried to avoid children and other riders. Of course, almost everyone had a dog, some on leashes, other off.

I bobbed and weaved for two hours on a Fuji Absolute, the closest bike to one I was considering. The brakes were too far for me but I didn’t realize that until I really got exhausted. When I went to put the bike back on the rack, I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t using the straps properly. So I put the seat down on my hatchback and put the bike in the car. Then I realized I didn’t want a heavier bike. No way!

At the store, I told Marti about the brakes and she let me ride the 2.0 with a different brake combination. What a difference! I went around and around in the huge and empty parking lot a couple of blocks from the store.

My analysis paralysis lifted. I ordered a bike – finally. I still have a lot of equipment to get but I made the big decision. Now I have to practice. Sharon, I’m making progress. 


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