Friday, July 04, 2008

I love to ride my bicycle...

So, I bought a bike today. A cheapie from Wally-World, using the theory that I often used to advise people interested in taking up a new shooting sport: You want to get into shooting sporting clays (or whatever)? Don't blow a mint on a Perazzi. Buy a used Remchesterberg shotgun and see if you like it first. There's nothing worse than blowing a ton on a new hobby and finding you're no good at it or it bores you, and now you're stuck with a gigabuck's worth of gear you don't need. (I also bought a cheapie WalMart bike because I'm poor, but that's a whine for another day...)

Anyway, we took a four mile spin on the Monon Rail Trail and, despite not having been on a pedal bike in, oh, twenty-two years or so, I had a great time. I guess it's true that you never really forget how.

RobertaX did up some steaks & shrooms with corn on the cob and lovely tossed salads for dinner and we watched The Man Who Knew Too Little, which she hadn't seen and I'm always up for watching again. It's a brilliant farce, with one of the cleverest scripts in movie history.

And now I'm going to put myself to bed to the gentle susurrus of fireworks outside, which will lull me to sleep with the soft sounds of Stalingrad in early 1943. It hasn't been a bad Independence Day at all.


Sevesteen said...

Many of the Walmart bikes are bicycling's version of a Jennings/Bryco...Before you decide you don't like bicycling, at least test ride a properly-fitting road bike or hybrid from a bike shop. Remember the right size. Keep an eye on garage sales and thrift stores. I often see classic mid and high end bikes in good condition for under $20.

Anonymous said...

Most Wal-Mart bikes aren't "used Remchesterberg" level. "Used Remchesterberg" is a $300-$400 TrekSpecializedFisherJamis (to name a few brands).

More than the quality of the bike itself is the skill of the person who assembled it. Take the bike to a real bike shop and have them tune it up. I've seen horrors come out of Wal-mart. Things such as forks installed backwards, brake cables not fully tightened, etc. We're talking things that could make the bike unsafe. Once everything is tuned and adjusted, the bike should last years with regular maintenance (lube chain, adjust brakes, etc).

BTW, being poor is no excuse. Get to know some bike nerds in your area and cruise Craigslist and you'll find all sorts of good bikes for cheap. I've seen some really nice bikes go for cheap there. I've also seen some junk hawked at stupid prices, so it helps to have a bike geek handy to check things out for you.

Anyway, congrats on taking that first step. It's all downhill from here. I'm in the process of building bike #3 (fixed gear road bike) and I ride with a guy who has 14 bikes (he's an ex racer, but still...).


E said...

I've got a bike you can ride it if you like...

yay for bikes!
extra-yay for classic steel-frame upgrades on the cheap!

I got my "racing" bike - a classic lugged steel frame from the '80's - for *free*. And then put about $200 into it over time rebuilding it into something smooth, comfy, modern, and quick. Good tires alone can run $30+ea, but they're worth it. It's amazing what you can do with a lucky frame find and a tight budget.

Happy Rolling! (and 4th)


Will said...

Tam, being a bike(motorcycle) rider, do you swap the bicycle brake cables to match? I still have no idea why bicycles are opposite motorcycles.

Adrian K said...

I'm confused. You haven't ridden a bike since you were 7? =)

I picked up a rebuilt REI Novara commuter bicycle for a few weeks ago from a local non-profit. Time to work off that weight I gained with the busted arm this past winter.

Will re: swapping levers: That's what I did. I'd probably end up grabbing the "clutch" lever one of these days and doing a Superman over the front. Of course, I ride roughly 75 miles/day on the motorcycle and about 5-8 miles/day on the bicycle.

Tam said...


I know it's a piece of crap. But since I had to go into hock to buy even a piece of crap, it was that, or don't go riding with my roomie.

We fixed all the maladjusted bits before riding. As far as taking it to a shop, that's not going to happen because A) They don't do that for free, and B) The biking equivalent of me might be working there. A gear snob like myself would probably wilt under their scorn the same way they would when they brought me their $15 Chinese pocket knife to be sharpened.

Shrugged says: said...

To hell with any scorn... Go with what you got!

I regularly shoot high power matches with a Model 38 Turk I bought for $89. I score 340, the guy next to me with the national match Garand scores 350. Ooooooo.... I am SO outclassed! (g) To really grind it home, I tell them my ammo is Fifty's Turk and there might be some misfires.

Being poor sucks.... but not as bad as being poor and stupid. Poor and intelligent just means creativity has to make up for missing bucks.
You got about 6.3 million bucks worth of intelligence and creativity going for you.

Tam said...

Not a thing wrong with a Turkish Mauser. They came out of the same Oberndorf plant the German ones did; only the markings on the receiver are different.

og said...

Glad you got that taken care of. Same rules apply as to Roberta: Stop in at the ice cream store of your choice on a semi-regular basis. You don't need to be losing any weight, you'll become a singularity and disapear.

Anonymous said...

Every time I read about some rails to trails program like your Monon Rail trail, I have to ask why?

Why would this country take a very efficient system of moving people and goods like a steel on steel railroad and replace it with something else?

Remember the fallen flags of old railroads like Monon.

Anonymous said...


I didn't mean to imply the bike was junk or anything, just that they tend not be be well assembled.

Don't get me wrong, money is a factor and I'm glad you adjusted everything beforehand. The bike that got me started was a Wal-mart bike. I remember all too well the bike shop snobs would rather sell my bike rather than work on mine, which is why I learned to do my own work. After riding the hell out of that bike for 5 years, I saved my money for 8 months to buy my first "real" bike.

BTW, don't worry about the gear snobs. They'll sneer at you regardless of how nice your ride is if it isn't "the right kind". The ones that do it for the love of the sport won't care what you ride as long as you ride.

Here's me about 2/3 the way through a 100 mile ride:

I've been riding "seriously" for over 20 years and I'm going to keep going till I can't turn the pedals anymore.

Anonymous, most rail trail conversions are abandoned rails, not active tracks. Our major rail to trail path, the W&OD, gets a lot of use by bike commuters. I know several people who rely on it to get to work via bike. I did too when I lived and worked near it.


Sevesteen said...

If you are going to be doing your own work, Harbor Freight has a fairly cheap bike tool kit that has most of the bike specific tools you will need. For instructions, is fantastic, and he doesn't assume you are an elite racer with an unlimited budget.

Anonymous said...

Sevesteen, Sheldon doesn't assume much of anything these days as he passed away earlier this year.

However, his page is a fantastic resource. Harris Cyclery should publish the site in a dead tree version peppered with pics of Sheldon and his bikes. He was so dedicated to cycling, when MS took his ability to ride a regular bike, he gladly took to riding a recumbant trike.

Word Verification: Spini. How appropriate for this discussion...


phlegmfatale said...

Here's hoping you get lots of enjoyment out of your new/old hobby. That dinner sounds glorious.

alath said...

Re, rails to trails

Anonymous might have a point if we were converting active, well-used railroads into bike trails. We're not. The Monon railroad was disused and abandoned prior to its conversion.

I live near the Monon trail and use it daily. Amost all my shopping and errands are accomplished by bike. Given the situations regarding the many costs of vehicular fuel, and the tendency of Americans to store excessive energy on their bodies, encouraging cycling, walking, and jogging is a good thing.

Re; WalMart bikes
Spending a Summer on a $60 bike is a good way to find out if getting a better bike would be a good move. I did the same thing four years ago. The WalMart bike lasted just about exactly one Summer. I did have to fiddle with it a lot: the derailleurs constantly needed adjustment, and I had to replace some parts that broke or fell off. I wound up getting a better bike for the next season, but still regard the WalMart bike as a good $60 experiment. Plus, it's always a good thing to have a spare bike around.

somerled said...

Best wishes to you, Tam, on the re-entry into self-powered butt hauling! May your legs not be wobbling too much today. Wal-Mart bikes can be viewed somewhat like a stripped, AR-15 lower. It is a starting point.

E said...

if derailleurs cause trouble, single-speed-it.

"you only need one."

It's kind of like riding a single-shot rifle. yeah... something like that.

montanabob said...

And what was wrong with Smokey and the Bandit??? I thought that was truly some of the best acting by Jackie Gleason on film. The honeymooners were good, but he was AWESOME in that movie@!@@@!!!! As for the bike, ride what you can afford. I ride a close to 20 year old cannonball (cannondale) and it gets me around just fine. No shocks, not trendy but useful.

uh.. ToAsTy.. said...

Just ride. Re-cycle, ride often..

Xavier said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Xavier said...

Good to hear that you are spinning Tam!

I agree with anon #1. The Wal-Mart bike will be great as a beater get your ass around machine that you can lock up and not worry too much about (At least in a year from now). It will eventually morph into that. I'm certain. (What kind is it BTW?) It may be your first bike in years, but it won't be your only one for long.

Keep a watch on Craig's List and the local garage sales and pawn shops. You can get a well made, properly fitted, quite workable but used bike, either mountain, road, or cruiser for pennies. Here is my latest commuter. I now have $31.60 tied up in it.

A Wal-Mart bike compared to even a mid level "bike shop" bike is truely like the difference between a Bryco/Jennings and a Combat Masterpiece. It's more than the ignorant Wal-Mart assembly, it's also the quality of the metal used in the parts, the quality of the frame metal and it's welds, and the quality of the components themselves. Don't get discouraged when things start to loosen up and go bad, if you ride the bike like you did your bike, they will. Somehow, I envision Tam on a fixed gear Clunker.

I see you developing a small collection of bikes, just as I have. Visit Sheldon's site, and some of the links on my bike blogroll, and start turning wrenches. Truely, an old road bike with a coaster brake laced into the rear wheel is the most bestustist bike there is. To hell with derailleurs! Here's another one, and yet another. There is beauty in a lugged steel frame.

Keep a watch on ebay for decent components and parts going cheaply. If you roll your own, it's extremely inexpensive, but also addictive. I even pick up throw away kiddie bikes.....But when I needed a set of riser bars for the commuter bike, there they were.......

The cool thing about getter back into cycling as an adult is you can tell the rest of the cyclists to kiss your ass. You don't have to have all the gear, costumes and the high dollar machines. That crap is put out by the corporations that sell bikes to stay in business. You don't have to buy into it. You just have to love the ride. And that is about as "cool" as the cool kids can get.

Now.....You haveta do some bike blogging too girl.......You don't know how good it is to see another hard core gunnie cycling! We will infiltrate and take over the grape nut eating spandex wearing chain snapping tree huggers yet!