When I got a new job last year I took my very first paycheck and bought myself a brand new bike.
This was a big deal for me. I hadn’t gotten a new bike since I turned 13, and the now too small for me mountain bike (which was all the rage mid-90s) was an entirely different beast from the oh-so-pretty Fuji Feather I picked up. I’ll be completely honest though when I say I didn’t really do a lot of research before hand which is incredibly out of character for me. I had seen her online a few places and then when a new bike store opened up directly between my favorite yarn store and Trader Joe’s and they carried the same model it seemed like fate. There were a few things though that I now wish I had thought about a bit more or had been explained to me by the store staff while I was shopping.
1. I originally thought I would use this to commute to work. Problem being I live on the Northside of Pittsburgh and work in the South Hills. That would be a 16 mile ride each way and not easily connected via the outstanding trail system. The other option is to bike 3.5 miles to the T station downtown and then 1 more mile from the T to my office. Both options actually make my commute take even longer than the 45 minutes to an hour I spend driving each way and the second would still cost me $6.50 in T fare which is more than what I’m spending on gas.
2. I liked how simple the bike was. Single speed so no gears to fuss with or worry about. I get a little uncomfortable driving in traffic since I’m still a commuting newbie & there’s the point that I’ve been hit by a car before…twice. So they make me a little nervous just yet. In theory the not having to worry about shifting gears would give me one less thing to pay attention to freeing me up to pay better attention to traffic etc. Problem: I live in PGH. On the top of one of the steepest hills in city.
*Also since I’ve started riding my bike more often I realized another potential issue. My bike only has a single brake. Maybe it’s just me being a pansy but when I’m traveling on some of the Pittsburgh hills (Troy Hill Road namely) it sort of feels like it’s not enough to slow me down. I didn’t even occur to me until I was riding the other day that all my other bikes have had front & rear brakes.
3. I’m short, only 5’5″ & the bike frame I purchased is actually a bit too large for me. In theory it should have been fine however they didn’t have my frame size in stock at the store so it would have been a special order anyways. When it arrived and I tried to hop on it seemed really high – but the store people insisted I just needed to get used to it and play around with the seat/post height. So I headed home and made Jim help me endlessly shift the seat, with the post it comes with I have it as low as it will possibly go and I’m still slightly over extended. After he used some of his stellar Google skills Jim found online that the Feather frames seem to run a bit on the large side so I probably should have gone a size lower for sure. So all of this has made getting used to a much different style of ride that much more difficult.
There are a few ways I can handle this: gift the bike to my husband and purchase something more appropriate for myself and my intended use, sell the bike and use the cash to find something else, or suck it up.
I’m going for suck it up. I bought this bike because I thought it was absolutely gorgeous and badass to boot. I want to be in the sort of shape where I can roll up Pittsburgh size hills without needing gears to help out. I want to zip around town Quicksilver style. Yeah, I went there. I know the more time I spend on it the more comfortable I’ll get and eventually I’ll be able to hold my own with a hardcore bike commute.
There are a couple of things I’m hoping to invest in to make it a little more custom and so I love it even more:
I have a huge Chrome messenger to carry all my things to the office. The only other thing I’ll be on the hunt for is a new helmet. I have one so I’m safe while I’m riding (don’t worry mom) but I had to buy a childs size so my style options were a bit on the limited side. Any suggestions for gorgeous things to protect my dome feel free to share.
So here’s to the summer where I teach myself to confidently ride my bike around town.