Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bicycle Dreams

So the leg is now fine. I did nothing all day on Saturday - just hung out and decided not even to do laundry, as that would require 3 flights of stairs - and when I woke in the wee hours of Sunday morning, it was entirely back to normal. Yay hurrah, but man oh man am I sick of my leg cramp issues. I've decided it's all about hydration, so I'm now constantly sucking on a water bottle.

Here is my confession: I really don't actually want to do this anymore. The training, the workouts, the endurance stuff. I hate pretty much all of it and I just want it to be over now. BUT IT'S OKAY I AM NOT QUITTING DON'T FREAK OUT. It's just really become a chore lately. So anytime I find myself wallowing in my displeasure of the whole endeavor, I try to distract myself. Thoughts of ice cream are helpful (especially visions of milkshakes), but what's really doing it for me lately are dreams of a new bike.

Don't get me wrong - Pepe is a sweetheart and has been a real trooper. But I feel like we're college roommates who will only be pals until we graduate and then it'll just be fond memories of mostly putting up with each other, not a BestFriendsForever! situation. Pepe's really not ideal for commuting because, aside from the lack of conveniences like a rack and well-supported basket and such (which can be added on), he's aluminum. Which means he doesn't feel terribly sturdy and I feel every tiny bump in the road - and in Chicago, those are more like craters in the road - and I can't imagine him withstanding the winters. And I would like to try to bike commute on winter days too. I find myself dreaming of a chain guard, so I'll never have to take measures to preserve my pants again. And integrated lights, and cushier tires, and broad flat smooth pedals.

Right, so: On Sunday, I went to the JC Lind Bike Shop because they carry Bern helmets (and I needed a new helmet). They also carry gorgeous, gorgeous bikes. All of them the non-sporty, practical and beautiful commuter and cargo-type bikes. Many times, Dottie has written about bikes from this shop, and I realized I was at the very place she'd mentioned so many times on LGRAB - but for some reason, I played dumb and didn't just tell the guy, like, "I know you because of Dottie, and omg the pretty bikes I've been dying to see them!" I don't know why I acted all blank-slate. I guess because it woulda felt too stalker-like. Though I bet he's had a bunch of beautiful-bike stalkers come through his doors.

ANYWAY. I looked at the bikes. I have a little list in my head of bikes I think I might love - like the Retrovelo Paula, for instance, and a Corvo Citta and the Bobbin Birdie. But mostly I've narrowed it down to two. And one of them was at JC Lind:

The Pilen Lyx. In awesome beautiful blue.

For wonderful pictures that really do it justice - and a great review, incidentally - go look what Lovely Bicycle posted. Dottie also had nothing but good things to say about it. So I got to dreaming about it. And actually, I was mostly dreaming about how practical it was. Sturdy and steady and that wonderful back rack and you can ride it on the grass as easily as the pavement. But also ooh pretty. Pretty blue, pretty curve in the frame. Pretty pretty pretty. And practical!

Alas. I have to put it out of my daydreams. It only comes in one size, and I tried it and it's just a smidgeon too big for me. Big enough to be intolerable. I'd have to hop off and hop back on at every stop, which I just can't handle. I even emailed Pilen to ask them if they ever considered making it in more sizes, and they actually emailed me right back! They said that they've been discussing making a smaller step-through frame (WOOHOO!) but basically don't get my hopes up because it will be a long time in development. Sadness.

Here's a suprising thing, though - after the disappointment of the Pilen-too-big business, he steered me to a Gazelle. Now  I do love the practicality of a Dutch bike, but their looks - and weight  - have never been a big turn-on for me. Yet he had me get on the Gazelle and oh my dear lord did I ever love it. There's how a bike looks and how a bike feels, and it felt GREAT sitting in that cockpit, people. You're completely upright. I felt like I was perched on the couch, watching TV. Felt like I should have a snack and the phone to my ear, or something. You don't have to reach for the handlebars - they're just exactly where your hands rest naturally. You're just sitting up and back and watching the world go byIt was so unexpectedly awesome.

But it was insanely windy and getting late so I didn't test-ride it or anything. And it has coaster brakes, the kind where you pedal backwards to stop? And I don't think I'd like that. He also pointed me toward the Civia Loring, which I had a brief crush on a while ago, but I'm over it. I realized I just love the front basket more than anything - take that off, and I am not fond of the frame, and it doesn't have lights and the bamboo fenders are just impractical. Of course, I could put the front rack on a bike I DO like. But anyway, the Dutch-bike option is there as a back-up, to-be-explored bike if I don't get my druthers. And as long as we're talking about druthers...

So with the Pilen out of the running, I could turn my full powers of wishful thinking onto my other choice - my secret top choice, the more romantic choice, the bike that stays always in my imagination not because of the practicality but because it's a glorious English beauty: The Pashley Sonnet Bliss.

I mean for godsakes, just look at it. LOOK AT IT.

Look at it in navy, even!

Of course I would settle for a Pashley Princess Sovereign:

But I'd like more color, you know. Hence, the Sonnet Bliss preference.

Even just the name: Pashley. It just feels luxurious and lush and romantic rolling around in your mouth: Pashley. Pashley Pashley Pashley. It's far too easy to say Pashley! on a passionate sigh as you clasp your joined hands to your heart, like a silent film star in love.

Actually, from what I've read it's quite a practical bike, built to last and easily able to carry a load home from the grocery store and withstand the winter elements and all that. It's just that I WANT it because of the looks. I would allow myself to actually GET it because it meets the other practical criteria for a good bike.

Anyway, I will head to Boulevard Bikes, which carries Pashleys, and take one for a spin sometime. Meanwhile, I'll just keep dangling the image in front of me as incentive: if I get through training and manage to do the ride in Tahoe, I get to have a beautiful new bike.

That is, if I can afford it. Because right now it looks like all my spare cash might have to go toward meeting my fundraising requirement. (Our group fundraiser went well, but we split the proceeds and my share is really just a drop in the bucket.) I think part of the reason I'm disliking the whole endeavor so much lately is because of that threat hanging over my head - that I'll have to go through this not-so-enjoyable training and then have to fork over most of my savings to do a ride that is only getting more scary and less exciting as time goes on.

But I banish those kinds of negative thoughts with my bike dreams. Pretty pretty bike, with a smooth ride and comfy saddle and swept-back handlebars. It's a very soothing vision. Far more soothing than me sweating in spandex and choking down sports drinks, you know?


Megan said...

Yay steel-framed step-through bikes!

Do you have a WorkCycles dealer in Chicago anymore? I know that Dutch Bike Chicago suddenly closed up shop a while ago.

I ask because I test-rode both a Pashley Princess and a WorkCycles Oma, and while the Oma had that wonderful La-Z-Boy feeling that you're describing from the Gazelle, the Pashley in comparison felt kind of harsher and sportier. And the Oma has hand-operated hub brakes, so you get the weather-proofness without having to deal with the coaster brake learning curve.

And there are also Public and Linus, who both make 8-speed steel frame IGH step through bikes at a lower price point than Gazelle or Oma.

Welcome to the dark side. We have cookies!

Beth said...

At JC Lind, he told me that they would be carrying WorkCycles starting next spring. Hooray!

The reason the Dutch-type is lower down on my list is the weight - I think I can handle hauling 40-45 pounds up a few stairs, but that's my limit and the heavy-duty Dutch bikes tend to run 50+ pounds. I think of it like, in 15-20 years, when my bones are old and I can afford some kind of rented garage space for it, then perhaps I will graduate to Dutch. But then if I love the ride way much more than a Pashley, I will reconfigure my wish list.

Saw the Linus at JC Lind, and they are nice but don't make my heart go pittypat. A girl at work who locks up next to me has a terrific-looking Public bike, I'll have to ask her where she got it so I can go ogle!

jmc said...

I've been thinking about getting a bike. I have a car that I seldom drive (use public transpo for work) and walk a fair amount, but sometimes a bike with a basket would an awesome thing. Your description and the photos have me planning a weekend trip to the bike shop in my neighborhood :)

Beth said...

YAY! However, I really must advocate that you buy an old used-but-comfy bike first - or maybe borrow or rent - to be sure that it's something you actually enjoy before financially committing.

But then if you like it you totally should join me in the Awesome Bike Search 2012.