Saturday, October 14, 2017

Insanity

They say one of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If that is the case, then I am officially insane.

Yeah, I bought another bike.

In case you don’t know why this is insane, I refer you to here, and here.

In case you want the tldr; version: I bought a bike some time ago and it was stolen, so I got another one, and it was stolen, so I got another one, and that was stolen, too.

And so, I resigned myself to a life without a bike.

But now that we have moved out of the town center, and I don’t always want to do the twenty-minute walk into town, I bought another one.

No, it's not a girl's bike.
This wasn’t as easy as it might have been because, apparently, they don’t sell bicycles any more.

I could have bought a stonkin’ Trail Machine with knobby tires, disc brakes, hydraulic suspension and more gears than my telly has cable channels, or a sleek Road Racer made of titanium alloy with tires the width of an index card and the gross weight of a pear. Or a Commuter Special that folded to the size of a large pizza. But I couldn’t buy a bicycle.

Not me.

Not me.
These items all came sans fenders, chain guards or lights and carried price tags in the thousands. All I wanted was a bicycle I could use to make the short commute into town, not something to careen down Scafell Pike on, or to ride in the Tour de France. But, alas, none were to be found. They were, as I was beginning to feel, out of date.

More like me. Not the guy on the penny-farthing,
I mean the woman in the background.
I turned to the Internet and still couldn’t find any. I did, however, find laments from people like me who just wanted a bog-standard bike and found they could not buy one. Undaunted, I made it my mission to search every bike rack in town, looking for something, anything, that was anywhere near what I had in mind. There were a few, and I took photos of their brand names. But this led only to more frustration when the web sites turned out to be non-existent, out of date or, having been updated, not selling that model any longer.

Then one day, I saw the perfect bike. And a young woman was standing next to it, unlocking it and preparing to ride away. I could not believe my luck. Braving a possible “Creepy Man Harasses Young Cyclist in Town Centre” headline, I approached her.

“Sorry to be so forward,” I began, “but can you tell me where you got your bike. I’m looking for one just like it.”

The young woman laughed. Not a reaction I was anticipating.

“I’m afraid I can’t help you,” she said. “I found it on the side of the road.”

Turns out, she was walking along the street one day and happened upon this bike, just sitting there, with a note attached to it saying the owner no longer wanted it and was giving it free to anyone who did. So, she called the number, the woman was glad to give it to her, and she had been riding it ever since.

A charming story, heartwarming, even, but of no help to me. I thanked the woman and, as I walked away, she advised, “Keep looking, you’ll find one somewhere.”

“I’ll start checking the sides of the roads,” I replied.

Still determined, but at the end of my wits, I turned to my wife.

“What you want is a Dutch bike,” she told me.

Five minutes of browsing and a one-click order from Amazon UK later, and a Dutch bike was on its way to me from, appropriately, Holland. It arrived two days later, a unisex (it is not a girl’s bike) model with “normal” handle bars (what they call “sit up and beg” handle bars), fenders, a chain-guard, front and back lights and reflectors, a bell, coaster brakes and a front brake, three gears, a carrying rack, and a kick-stand (remember those?) And, as a bonus, it also has a skirt-guard (it is NOT a girl’s bike).

This one, I hope, is more theft-resistant. For starters, it’s not worth enough to make it theft-worthy, and attempting to steal it would involve cutting the lock that secures it to the bike rack, then discovering it could not be ridden or wheeled away because it comes with a built-in lock that immobilizes the back wheel and, once that was discovered, the thief would find it difficult to pick it up and run away with it because it weighs more than a yearling calf.

And so, clad in an eye-wateringly yellow Hi-Viz jacket and helmet (but no Lycra), I can nip into town in no time. Such has been my experience with bikes and Horsham town center, however, that, for the first half-dozen times I returned to where I had left my bike, I was visibly surprised to find it was still there.

Now, people ask me where I got my bike from. And I see more and more bikes like it being ridden sedately around the town. This, in my view, demonstrates the root of the problem: bikes can be used competitively, and cycling can be a sport, but primarily, a bicycle is a mode of transportation. People seemed to have forgotten that, but now they are beginning to remember, and bikes like mine are becoming more common.

This trend was confirmed for me when I happened by the bike shop where I had made my unsuccessful attempt to buy a bike. There, in the front window, was a bike just like mine, with a price tag to match. It was called, fittingly enough, the Townie. And it was pink.

I would have snapped that up in a second if it had been there when I was looking. No one would have the balls to steal something like that! And it would certainly make a statement.

Not the bike in the window, but this is exactly like it.
And I wouldn’t even try denying it was a girl’s bike.

Okay, it's a girl's bike.


3 comments:

  1. Ha ha ha ha, that is SO a girls' bike! But hey, if it does what you want, what's the problem? At least it isn't pink.
    My husband has 3 bikes. (It was 4 until our son took one with him to uni.) He is more like the road racers in your picture. I have a mountain bike, but I am more like a cross between you and the mountain biker picture, in that I take it off road (but I'm with the dog so I have to go really slowly as said dog doesn't always remember not to suddenly run in front of the bike) but it also gets me around town. Mine is not pink either. It's blue, and very definitely NOT a poxy girls' bike!
    Husband is right now wearing lycra leggings and lime green jacket and socks. Luckily he has a good bum and legs so it's not too hideous a sight. And the jacket is suitably long! 😉

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  2. Happy trails to you!

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