So, it was a little over a year ago that I started my bicycle experiment with a cheapie Wally World faux-mountain bike. I put a comfier saddle on it and a rear luggage rack and used it for quick local trips to the grocery or out for a bite to eat.
Over time, the disadvantages of the Wally World special became apparent. Oh, sure, the brakes and derailleurs needed constant adjustment, and the wheels were only true-ish, but neither of these were a real impediment in my local excursions (the longest grocery store round trip was barely two miles.) The big downside was that roomie had, and was rather proud of, a great big Giant Cypress hybrid, kitted out as an urban grocery-getter, complete with lights and fore-'n'-aft wicker baskets.
Bicycle excursions with my roommate tended to quickly turn into a dwindling view of her taillight as I fought fifty pounds of badly-aligned Chinese steel that always seemed to be balkily stuck in the wrong gear. It wasn't so much that I minded losing the Tour de Kroger, as it was that if I'd wanted to go riding alone, I would have done so. Growing dissatisfied with my current steed, I started shopping for a real bike.
The folks at The Bike Line in Broad Ripple were extremely friendly and helpful when I swung by one Saturday while out riding with Shootin' Buddy, and so when I was ready to buy I returned there.
I determined that I didn't need some exotic mountain bike, since the most challenging terrain I'd encounter on my daily rounds was the gravel alley or the front lawn. At the same time, since my runs to the store weren't being timed by anything more urgent than the thaw rate of a frozen pizza, I didn't need a high-speed road bike either. Not being particularly stylish, I skipped over the cruisers and went for a fairly generic entry-level hybrid; after a bit of tire-kicking I settled on a 20" Trek 7100. The guys at the shop were delighted to know that I was planning on using it as a general utility bike, and we quickly picked out a luggage rack and a quick-detach basket.
Wow. All the people who commented in that earlier post about how much happier I'd be with a decent bicycle weren't kidding; compared to my old bike, it's like night and day. Forget the light weight and low rolling resistance stuff; the shifters actually shift gears and the brakes produce something besides just a poignant desire to stop. (Although it's ironic that I'll probably burn less calories even though I ride a lot more; the old bike gave a workout, I'll say that for it.)
The other big difference between this bike and the old one is that all of a sudden, I'm kinda interested in bicycles. I spent the last day or so reading pretty much every bicycle-related article on Wikipedia, for instance. I need lights for this thing. A speedometer would be cool, too. And maybe another bike; you know, for exercise, with all the luggage-carrying stuff stripped off. I could even build one from the frame up, just the way I want it...
(PS: If any readers in Indy need a beater bike for short grocery store runs and the like, my old machine is free to a good home. Pass on the love, and all that.)