One of my neighbors had a garage sale on Wednesday, and I noticed it in her driveway. It had the upraised seat, lowered handlebars, and thick, rugged tires of a quasi-sport bike. It didn't look like a dirt bike, but it wasn't the style I'd grown up on. At first, I thought it was a ten speed, with a dial on the right handle bar to shift gearrs. A few days after purchasing it, I realized the dial on the right handle bar had 6 positions, and that there was another one on the left with three more. That's potentially eighteen, though I'm not sure they all work.
I took it for a spin, and determined that the tires probably need air, that the front brake was broken but likely fixable, and that it rode OK.
I dithered over it. There are a lot of highways and hills where I live, making it decidedly sub-par for biking. On the other hand, I *do* walk to work every day already. I asked how much she wanted for it. "$40." That seemed a lot for something I might not use. But she said if she hadn't sold it by Thursday, she'd consider selling for less.
Thursday her garage sale was rained out by noon, and I bought the bike from her for $30, which is perhaps still a lot for something I might not use. Then again, it's a lot cheaper than the digital tablet, which I also thought I might not use.
Much to my surprise, Lut not only owned a bike cable, but was even able to locate it in short order. We already had a key lock that we'd used for the garage until we got a combination lock for it. Now I had a bike, a lock, and a cable.
Friday, with some trepidation about the steep steep hill I walk up each day, I got on my bike and set out for work.
It about killed me.
What I hadn't realized was that the entire street from my house to the steep hill is also sloped uphill, albeit fairly gently. So instead of a mile-long trip with a hundred yards that's uphill, it's more like a mile-long trip with about 1/3 of a mile it graded uphill.
I was already tired by the time I reached the hill itself, and barely made it a quarter way up before giving up and walking the bike the rest of the way to the top. It was a bit easier once I reached the top, but I was so exhausted by the time I got to work that I seriously thought I was in danger of fainting before I made it inside. I had to find an empty corner and lie down for fifteen minutes to recover. And drink lots of water. (Sadly, there're no couches or other places to lie down at work -- I used a section of floor).
On the other hand, the ride home was a breeze.
Saturday, I did a little bit of additional biking, practicing approaches for the too-steep hill, but lost enthusiasm for it quickly. I did, however, discover the multiple gear shifts. Monday, Lut wanted to go shopping after work, so I left the bike at home, figuring he'd pick me up in the afternoon.
Today, I took the bike to work again. This time I didn't even try to get it part of the way up the hill. As soon as the slope changed from "slight" to "noticeable", I got off and walked it.
Not exhausting myself on the early part of the trip, combined with a better understanding of the multiple gears, made a big difference. I was still tired when I got to work, but not I-think-I'm-gonna-pass-out-and-or-throw-u
It looks as though I'll have an easier time using high gear (13th or 14th, if I'm supposed to produce the gear number by multiplying the two numbers -- I dunno how these gears work) on relatively flat ground. Anything lower and I find my legs tire faster because they're turning so quickly. Cycling slower isn't much of an option: if my speed drops below a certain level, I start to lose my balance and weave all over the road.
Maybe as I get used to it, pedalling uphill will become easier. I never was much good at pedalling uphill, not even when I was a kid and was regularly biking a few miles at a stretch.
So far, it doesn't appear much faster than walking: it takes me about twenty minutes to walk from home to work. Friday it took around 14 minutes to bike it, and today was more like 16.
On the other hand, even driving the distance always seems to take longer than it ought to -- it's about ten minutes from the time I leave the house to the time I reach my desk at work. The *drive* isn't that long, but apparently it takes several minutes for me to adjust the car, get on the road, get to work, park, and then fumble with my keys and get inside.
I still wind up doing some of that fiddly stuff with the bike -- unlocking the garage, dragging it out, and then locking it up at work. I had considered not locking it while at work, but I work in a crappy area and even if it's only a thirty-dollar bike, I rather suspect it wouldn't last long. Where I live sees a lot less traffic, but I may as well put it in the garage -- at least that way it stays out of the rain.
The ride home is probably faster than the one to work. It's hard to say exactly how much faster, because on the way home there's this one dog that's usually out in his yard, and ever since Ocean's Edge posted that strip about the dog, I never have been able to pass him without stopping to play. But I tried timing it today: about 13 minutes from desk-to-kitchen, not counting seven minutes to play with the dog. :)