July 11, 2009

I bought a bike.

Years ago, I used to bike to work regularly. But then I switched to walking — no bulky, stealable equipment to fuss with — and then to driving or walking. And then 20 years passed without my riding a bike at all. (Strange how many years can pass without your doing a particular thing when you are over 30... over 40... over 50....) But I'm in a new phase of my life now...

IMG_0153

... so I got a bike. It's pretty fun to be at the level of mobility between walking and driving. You can get around rather quickly and still feel close to the things around you.

What kind of bike? A "comfort bike" was prescribed for me. I got one of these.

74 comments:

peter hoh said...

Nice looking bike. Hope you enjoy it.

Cycling used to be a big part of my life. Then I had kids.

Fishing is another thing that's gone by the wayside.

Golden West said...

This will make Nina happy!

LarryTheOlder said...

Really? $929.00 and it has no fenders! What about riding in the rain and the big black streak up your back? No worries? :)

kentuckyliz said...

I was at a meeting in Elizabethtown KY in May, and while driving back to my hotel, I spied a really excellent bike shop and stopped in. It was great to talk to the foaming at the mouth bike enthusiasts in there, some race, some do distance trips, etc. Granola to jock. They kept asking me what bike I wanted to try out. But I had only packed business dresses! Rats!

I was inspired to fix up my old bikes, which I had recently dragged out of the basement under threat of flooding.

So I got them fixed up but haven't ridden much yet, because of being sidelined by the hysterectomy. I see the doc July 22 and hopefully she will clear me to do anything I want. My tummy feels weird so I'm not sure I'll be ready to lift that heavy boat over my head. My preference is rowing because it's cooler on the water than on land.

However, if I don't feel quite ready to row, I will bike instead. It's also better for when I'm short on time, because rowing is a major outing. If I get off work at 4:30 and go to my favorite lake, I get home at 9 p.m. Eats up the whole evening.

If I can row right away, then I'll bike in the fall when it cools off a bit.

Rowing in August is great. There's too many motor boaters, but there's a beachy cove I can land on, ship in my oars, tie them together with the string of my emergency whistle, and swim with or on my boat (like swimming with a dolphin, or on a surfboard). Ahhhh.

I used to have a temp job with no dress code. I was in a dirty back room working on computers and they didn't care how I dressed. I could choose my hours because all that mattered was progressing on the work of computerizing their records. So I started bike-commuting and started out after rush hour was done, and worked a little later and rode home after rush hour peaked in the evening. The ride home was through a connected parkway system through parks, along a river, in the woods, etc., and it was beautiful. It was a perfect way to unwind after a workday.

I can't bike commute here because traffic is totally unaware of bikes. I'd be safer jetski commuting from the river in my backyard into town. I SOOOOO want to do that. No traffic or red lights.

AJ Lynch said...

Cool. Headed to the shore for a week and am taking 3 bikes. One is a hybrid like yours and the other two are cruisers (no gears).

kentuckyliz said...

That bike needs front and rear fenders and a basket and/or rear rack. You'll know why once you start lugging stuff or it rains.

No excuse Peter. Kids love biking and fishing. My brother took his kids on a bike trek from St Paul to Duluth MN and they were like 10. They loved it!

My brother has a really good blog on biking for commuting, touring, pleasure, etc., and he is a good writer. It's about the twin cities MN but some info is general for anywhere, and his writing can be entertaining to read.

http://www.twocitiestwowheels.blogspot.com/

dbp said...

That is a great bike, but I would have guessed you'd pick one like this one.

It has fenders so if you go through a wet patch, you won't be spattered. Also, it has a low bar so you could ride it while wearing a skirt.

EDH said...

Will you wear a helmut? Here's one you might like, the "Nutcase Star Bright."

For commuting, shopping and long rides you may want to add a rack with a nice bag or dual panniers. Much better than a backpack, which tends to be either too loose or too tight fitting to be steady or comfortable.

I like the easily detachable ones because, even if you can secure the bag to the bike when you park, you really can't secure the bag's zipper closed. So you want it totable.

The rack/bag may also help with the "black streak" problem.

chickenlittle said...

Great choice of bike. Did Meade advise you? I love those Treks. I got one of these last year and I just love it!
I had been commuting for years on a 30 year old Italian racing bike, which finally went into retirement.

American Liberal Elite said...

Lycra biking shorts are a must

EDH said...

Wearing a helmut?

You ask what does wearing a Helmut look like?

chickenlittle said...

Cycling used to be a big part of my life. Then I had kids.

That's no excuse. You can make cycling part of their lives too, and enjoy your own moments. But living in MN does make it harder for you I suppose.

former law student said...

$900 for a bike? You can buy a good running car around here for $1000.

Today's bikes have too many gears. I don't want a bike with a front derailleur. A three-speed or even a five-speed would be fine.

Peter: with kids you might not be able to do "serious" biking, but why not a Sunday afternoon cruise a la our Dear Leader?

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/06/08/obama_family_joins_neighbors_for_a_lake_shore_bicycle_ride/

Christy said...

We only thought we knew you!

Jason (the commenter) said...

How long before it gets stolen?

chickenlittle said...

$900 for a bike? You can buy a good running car around here for $1000.

I've had my share of those kinds of cars.

I haven't even had one flat tire with my new Trek. Gotta love that. Plus all those gears are great for steep hills.

Beth said...

Liz, I hope you're biking and rowing soon with abandon. But maybe you can get some help with the lifting.

My tummy feels weird so I'm not sure I'll be ready to lift that heavy boat over my head.

Well put. It feels weird. I'm lifting the dachshund now - 14.5 lbs - and that feels like about enough.

I lifted a 3-gallon gas can a few days ago, and felt it all day. Yes, I ran out of gas, for the first time in years. I had to stop and think "do I have to prime the carburator? Oh, right, no such thing these days!"

I miss lifting and pushing and hefting things at will. It's all coming back, but in its own time. I'm so glad to hear you're feeling good and wanting to get back to your normal life.

Rick Lee said...

"Today's bikes have too many gears. I don't want a bike with a front derailleur. A three-speed or even a five-speed would be fine."

One probably doesn't need a front derailler in Wisconsin, but Cincy would be a different story. I live in Appalachia where grunting up a steep hill in the lowest climbing gear possible for 20 minutes is just part of life.

howzerdo said...

k-liz & Beth: be REALLY careful about lifting, and for even longer than the docs say. My husband is currently going through an incisional hernia repair nightmare (caused by lifting too soon after a conventional gall bladder surgery in the '90s). Not fun.

Darcy said...

Wow. I had no idea that "bikes" cost that much!

AJ Lynch said...

BTW, Althouse my hybrid is a Raleigh and is about 15 years old. Extremely reliable - gets a tune-up every 2-3 years. Yours will last forever too.

Ann Althouse said...

Hey, you fender freaks. We use these when we need fenders.

And here's my helmet.

The River Otter said...

Congratulations! Madtown is a great bike-friendly town, I hear.
I have a Giant hybrid commuter bike and it is great for my back too. I added a gel seat and a big basket on the back for carrying stuff.
The only thing is I need to get fenders on it.
Bikes rule!!!

rhhardin said...

The only trouble with pricey bikes is that they're theft targets.

I try to make my bike look as shabby as possible, with the application of various duct tapes and shoddy attachments, so it's apparently not worth defeating the lock I put on it.

Christy said...

Beth, keep your eye on the fuel pump now. The gas itself is the lubricant and when it runs dry....

Liz, courage, girlfriend! We will all be very proud of you when you're back to your pre-surgery workouts. Me, I've been not so successful at recovery from injury and want to see everyone else do better.

Meade said...

I propose a biking meet-up in Madison next summer.

Beer, brats, bikes, badgers, blogs...

Who's in?

Michael Hasenstab said...

Nice bike, Althouse, but it needs to be modded up in order to look cool. Good thing for you that I am an experienced biker so I can help you through this.

First thing to add is a set of aftermarket wheels. Chromed wheels look best and will add some much need bling to your ride. Pick a set that has a custom spoke pattern while you're at it.

The frame needs a better paint job. It's pretty boring the way it is. It should be re-painted black, with a really good flame job added, in tones of red and yellow.

I like the absence of fenders. That old school look is great.

Pipes are next. Your bike needs a set of good pipes. Let's see, which model did you buy?

*Puts on glasses and re-reads post*

Oh. You bought a Trek. I thought you bought a Triumph.

Never mind. You really should get the flame paint job, though. And a finger bell for the handlebars.

Ruth said...

I have a comfort bike. A shocking pink Townie by Electra. I love it. At 72 I needed a low, low bar to get my leg over and something I could easily plant my feet on the ground while sitting in the saddle. It has three gears which is more than ample for the flat terrain I live on. But when I go to the Hill Country I need those two other gears. I haven't spent nearly as much time on it as I would like. Right now the heat index has been well over 100 for weeks. I'm too old to be biking in that.

LonewackoDotCom said...

Althouse's first bike in a long time costs almost a thousand dollars? At least she's stimulating the economy. She's also going to need to get a very good lock and not give anyone any opportunities. It would have been better for her to get a lower-priced bike with various options since she's not going to doing things like this. Here's a picture of my Trek at 10,000'. I subsequently got it up to ~13,000' at another location.

Chase said...

Wow - I haven't ridden in about 22 years and just started looking at bikes at Sports Authority this morning after breakfast out with a friend. And now I come and see this . . .

Scary!

Chase said...

I'm with Peter Hoh as to why I quit riding, too.

I like your phrasing, Ann. It is a new phase of life.

chuck b. said...

If it gets stolen, you can have a *Big Adventure* getting it back!

Chase said...

I propose a biking meet-up in Madison next summer.

What month Meade? The Mrs and I will be in Minneapolis for 3 weeks in late July - early August. Would love to do it!

Thanks for the year to get ready!

Althouse's first bike in a long time costs almost a thousand dollars?

My last bike in '85 was a UniVega Custom. $560. That would buy a far better bike today.

Also, I biked Baldy in the 80's, but never that high. Kudos!

XWL said...

Good choice, same bike I bought for riding around campus when I went to UCR. It's a versatile bike, as you'd expect from a hybrid, just make sure to get it cleaned thoroughly after any off road or bad weather activity. My bike survived a few bad crashes, too, so it's surprisingly sturdy for such a light bike (at least the frame, destroyed the front tire once). Shame some idiot chose to break into my garage and steal it a month ago.

Michael Hasenstab said...

Meade, let me know when the bike meet will happen. I'll show up on a motorcycle and can escort (and maybe video) the riders, like in the Tour d'France.

Tour d'Meadhouse.

Meade said...

August sounds great. I hear Madison typically begins to cool off then.

MAP

Sy said...

Come on, a hybrid bike? I thought we were beyond the hybrid fad.

AJ Lynch said...

Yeah Meade get er done! WI is one of ten states I have never been to.

AJ Lynch said...

Althouse the helmet reminds me of the one Mike Myers wore in an SNL skit where he was a hyper child who was tethered to monkey bars. Sorry.

Paul said...

Nice bike. $900 is not too much for a good quality bike of that type. My 8" travel freeride bike costs close to 5K, but it laughs at rock gardens at speed and can handle big drops easily.

Lem said...

I just hope Madison is bike friendly.

Makes me think it Must be, otherwise you wouldn't be doing it.

kcom said...

Yeah, $900 for a bike today is nothing remarkable in the bike world. There are bike parts that cost that much. It isn't till you get over $1000 that you even start to get into fairly serious recreational/performance territory.

And of course Trek is a Wisconsin company so she's keeping the money close to home.

BJM said...

Nice choice! I have a Trek Cruiseliner Women's that I bought on Craig's List for $300. The seller used it a half dozen times and decided biking was not her cup of tea, it was like new.

It's a wonderfully comfortable and stable bike and every design/ergonomic element and finish is exactly right.

Yeah I know it's a little old lady bike. However, I only ride suburban paths and residential streets so any more bike would be overkill.

Enjoy!

Ralph L said...

$930 and it's missing half its spokes!

Ten years ago, My brother gave me his Falcon, for which he paid $300 in the mid 70's and then upgraded parts for years. He was a Bicycle Repairman (my hero!) for two years after UNC. Our roads suck and everything seems to be uphill. I've stuck to walking.

Deb said...

"A shocking pink Townie by Electra. I love it."

Way to roll, Ruth!

rhhardin said...

Bike commute daily dogs, recorded this morning before the rains came through. They're there every day.

Video 1.
Video 2.

Radio-fence controlled.

This front basket is very nice. Good for at most 20 pounds, holds a 12-bottle iced tea package. A jacket gives you a place to lay a camera within easy reach, which is how the videos happened.

paul a'barge said...

You go girl.

I bought and sold my Trek. Then I bought and sold my Harley.

Good on you.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Someone's going get a great deal at your next garage sale.

Juris Dentist said...

Hahahahahaha. 900-plus bucks for a "comfort bike."

Comfortable for the salesperson who conned you into spendng five times more than you needed to for an around-tpwn bike.

My prediction: you will lose interest and not be using it within, oh, a few months. And there's no way you'll be "trekking."

Hilarious.

rhhardin said...

There's actually a middle ground that justifies an expensive bike.

If you ride little, it's obviously not worth it.

If you ride really a lot, then the components wear out on you and are very expensive to replace, unless you do it with cheap parts, in which case you have a cheap bike in a couple years.

In these two cases, a cheap bike is more efficient.

In the middle, it's nice having a nice bike, and it doesn't cost much further.

EDH said...

Perhaps the greatest movie segue ever is how the gentle coda of Somewhere Over the Rainbow is interrupted by this cut-away.

Not that I'm comparing our Althouse to Miss Gultch ;)

Chris said...

I miss my bike commute. In the two years since I stopped I've gone from a ripped 200lbs to a pasty 220. 1000 bucks seems crazy for a just get around bike but when I think about how much my actual bike riding friends pay for their bikes (like 5K) it doesn't seem so bad.

Dogwood said...

Nice bike, it should serve you well for many years.

As for those aghast at the price, one of the reasons people lose interest in bicycling is poor fit.

If a bike is too small or too large for you, it won't be comfortable to ride so you'll eventually lose interest in it.

More expensive bikes with more sizing options makes for a better fit and a more enjoyable ride.

Also, performance, or lack thereof, discourages people from getting on their bike. Heavy, slow, cumbersome, and difficult to maneuver all make a WalMart bike not worth the effort.

There is a huge quality difference between a $200 bike, a $900 bike, or $2,000 bike. The former is meant to be disposed of after a couples years use, while the latter two are designed to provide decades of enjoyment.

But don't take my word for it, take a WalMart special on a 5-mile ride, then go to a good bicycle shop and take a $1,000 bike on the same ride. The difference in ride, performance & efficiency is substantial.

BJM said...

rh, I completely agree and Althouse can obviously afford a nice bike, so why not have the enjoyment of same.

We strive for decades to reach the top of our chosen professions/pay grade and part of the reward is to live well, not in penury.

Plus as others have remarked $900 is a pittance among the cycling cognoscenti.

nina said...

Welcome to the fold. Madison is an extraordinarily bike friendly city. Meade, your influence has been profoundly magnificent.

TBMD said...

Nice choice. Trek makes a nice product.

Biking's great - just a nice quiet time in the creation with your own thoughts. Recommend that you don't clutter it up with an ipod.

'bout 15 years ago, Mrs. Boring & I went out and got hybrids from Giant.

Get a tune up every other year or so, and they've been great.

Of course, eventually this brought on an onset of middle age athleticism in Mrs. Boring, who developed quite the habit of going on 40-50 mile rides over the weekends.

TBMD said...

Nice choice. Trek makes a nice product.

Biking's great - just a nice quiet time in the creation with your own thoughts. Recommend that you don't clutter it up with an ipod.

'bout 15 years ago, Mrs. Boring & I went out and got hybrids from Giant.

Get a tune up every other year or so, and they've been great.

Of course, eventually this brought on an onset of middle age athleticism in Mrs. Boring, who developed quite the habit of going on 40-50 mile rides over the weekends.

NKVD said...

Trek makes some nice bikes.

Riding is a good activity. I used to ride thousands of miles a year and miss that a lot.

bagoh20 said...

My first job at 15 involved leaving home and busing 800 miles to Connecticut to pick tobacco for $1.00/hr. of which $.65 was withheld for room and board. I worked very hard all summer and took home about $300. I still remember the day of my return home as the happiest day of my life. I spent $220 of the hard earned bounty on a new bicycle which I rode incessantly until the following year when I lost my virginity and got a drivers license. Not much biking went on for the next 35 years.

About a year ago I bought another new bike for about the same as Ann's investment, which is a good price to get quality without wasting money.

Now, I commute 28 miles round trip to work most days and do longer rides on weekends. I just love it. My commute is the best part of my day. I cruise listening to the radio. Great workout, saves gas, no gym membership or boring workout machines to share with irritating yuppies.

If you're gonna work out, it should not cost money and should accomplish more than just burning calories. That time should be enjoyed and cherished. Biking with the fresh air and scenery is highly superior to the dystopia of the gym. You go girl!

David said...

My definition of a comfort bike is a rickshaw.

kentuckyliz said...

In the passenger seat of the rickshaw. I can hire a Mexican to tote me around.

EDH said...

I was captivated by bagoh20's story, and the following intrigued me:

until the following year when I lost my virginity and got a drivers license.

Usually, we observe the reverse causal relationship ;)

bagoh20 said...

EDH,

Yea, I know it's supposed to go that way, but for me it didn't.

I remember because, we got pregnant the first time which required an immediate, covert trip to a clinic in the big city by stealing my parents car and driving us with no license. I was 16 and she was 15.

We never got caught and the whole incident remained a secret.

Although we were young, and we ended the pregnancy very early, we both still feel bad about that mistake.

I don't think kids are any smarter today, not that your brain has much to do with it.

bagoh20 said...

I think this is an example of digression.

Remember Ann: you won't get in any trouble if you just stay on that bicycle.

AllenS said...

I used to ride a bike when I was a yout. Here's a tip: take a playing card and pin the card on the rear wheel bracket with a closepin. Then, when the wheel turns, it will sound like this: tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap...

You'll be totally cool. I know I was.

AllenS said...

Or, maybe you could use a clothespin.

MadisonMan said...

The SW Bike path to the Cap City Trail to the Monona loop is a great bike ride.

Skipper50 said...

Lovely. But, you paid nearly a thousand bucks for a bike? My, times have changed.

garrison said...

I've got the Trek 7200, and the same Bern helmet (black). Similar tastes, probably why I read your blog.
Already have 2000 miles on it in the last year and a half. Of course I can ride year around in temperate Portland. Ride safe and enjoy.

Ann Althouse said...

We did the Monona Bike path today, and only about half of it is properly scenic and lake-focused. The part in Monona is kinda bad. But I made it. Surprised I've been able to go so far.

traditionalguy said...

Congratulations for trying new fun things. Hope you are not too sore tomorrow. Have you tried whitewater rafting?

MadisonMan said...

Congrats on making the ride. The soreness -- if there is any -- will come tomorrow and Tuesday. A deep massage of the lakes will help head off the soreness.

MadisonMan said...

I must be tired. I'm a bicycle, actually. Too TIred. Bwahahaha.

(ahem)

A deep massage of the LEGS.

former law student said...

A deep massage of the LEGS.

It's the perineum that always got me after a long ride.

The prof. might want to look at other seats.