I love to bike, but I don’t like doing it for exercise. Seems like I would rather run, or walk, most of the time. Even I find that odd. However, I do like bicycling as a means of transportation, and as a lifestyle choice. Bicycles are a marvel of evolutionary engineering, and just get better all the time. I am lucky to live in a town which, although not perfect, does provide an environment where bicycling is promoted, and encouraged.
I have a Schwinn hybrid that is at least ten years old. I bought it when click shifting was maybe one or two years into production. It has a steel frame, it has gotten a lot of use, and it was a perfect choice. I am still completely satisfied with it. I went from a racing bike, that I actually did race (that is another story), to a bike I could use on the trail system here, and that would be reliable transportation. It was a great purchase. I purchased it from Walt’s Bike Shop here in Columbia, and they offer lifetime free labor. I just had it in for a tune up and they replaced the chain, and some cables. It cost me around thirty dollars.
I think walking, or riding your bike, as an alternative to taking a car is an absolute sane, and healthy way to live. It is better for you, the environment, and certainly your pocket book. I can drive my car to work and burn no calories, or I can ride it to work and burn 400 for free, and enjoy the outdoors all at the same time. Weather is seldom an issue except for severe thunder storms, or extreme winter weather. I will not ride in the ice and snow. I would LOVE to do without a car entirely, and use my bike for everything, and am getting closer to being able to do that, although replacing a car 100% here in the United States is challenging.
All of these pictures are ones I took yesterday when I rode my bike to campus to meet with some students, and stop by our local public radio station, KOPN at 89.5, to pick up a free mug I got for joining as a member. They were having a pledge drive that day.
The coffee mug that cost me 90 bucks but I get to make monthly payments on it.
If you use your bike to commute you have to have the right bike, rightly equipped. For example, I am very paranoid about breaking down, getting stranded, and then missing a class. It takes me about 30 minutes door-to-door leisurely riding averaging right at 10 or 11 miles per hour. In case something happens I allow for an hour which provides time to either fix things up, or walk in pushing the bike. I carry C02 cartridges, spare tubes (more than one – I have had two punctures on one ride only once, but it was enough), and a few tools. Also, a tube repair kit which I have absolutely no faith in. I have learned that fifty dollar tires are worth the price. To domesticate an already placid, forgiving, and reliable ride I have added the following accessories:
Cheap eBay saddle bags. LOVE them. Large capacity, and somewhat water proof. Less than ten bucks.
Cheap, WalMart bell. Works great. It does kind of chime as you ride and hit bumps, but I find that rather charming.
Fenders. These drive me crazy with their rattling, and they are finicky as far as adjusting them so they make less noise (never no noise), or rub. But they are worth the expense, and trouble. My most expensive add-on accessory.