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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

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i mentioned sven gave me a lime for an early birthday present earlier this month, but i kept it just long enough to name it "comet" before trading it in for another bike. that means i've gone through three bikes this summer, but i think i finally have the bike that is just right for me!

i got stella almost exactly 3 years ago for burning man from the recyclery (when it was still on foster!). i thought she would be a good enough bike and i wouldn't feel bad if we had to get rid of her in subsequent years. but this year i got really attached to her! she's a sweet & sassy 3-speed w/ glow-in-the-dark stars stuck all over her. i'm a little surprised and sad that we don't have a decent picture of her, but here i am with her after my first ride to mph's place in may. that's the blue moon behind me:

so i had been looking at getting a new bike early in may. mph says that the way he feels talking to bike guys is sort of the way people must feel talking to him about computers, and i understand that. i tried to overcome my fear & intimidation, but even so it took me over two months of test riding bikes at the division bike gallery before i decided i was probably going to get a trek lime. i thought it was a fairly appealing shape & color, but i thought the automatic shifting was fabulous! it reminded me of one of the reasons i bought trixie: a great concept, and if i wanted them to continue to be made, i should buy one (a tactic that worked out very well w/ the prius, i might add ;). so i was just trying to save towards a $500 bike -- and lo & behold, i got two catsitting jobs that pretty much covered it! i was waiting until they were over before buying the lime.

but while biking w/ stella in the meantime, i finally figured out how to effectively use a 3-speed bike (previously, i was basically keeping it in first gear all the time). so when sven surprised me by buying the lime for me, i was shocked to discover the automatic shifting was a detriment! my feet kept slipping off the pedals when it would decide to downshift, and it felt like it wanted me to pedal a lot faster than i ordinarily want to. i even tried all the adjustments, but i never felt in control.

so back to the bike gallery i went. i wasn't very hopeful, but at least i knew enough so i could narrow my options. i definitely prefer the cruiser style, so i was testing the electra townie and the trek pure series. the townies are prettier & i like their shifting mechanisms more. i was pleased that i could consider higher-speed bikes: in april of this year, i thought 3 speeds was way too many!

after another week of evaluation, i decided my perfect bike would be 7 speeds with an internal hub and a coaster brake. it turns out the electra townie 7-speed only comes in this one "hazy lilac" color, and i almost didn't get it because of it. i almost went with the 21-speed instead, since it came in a silver or a cream. i even had an hour-long phone conversation w/ mph about the merits of a 21-speed derailleur and a 7-speed internal hub. but ease-of-use won out. andromeda is totally the mac of bikes: not too many choices, but does everything else i want in style.

though the pink still gives me hives, i'm trying to embrace the pink, so i'm calling her "andromeda" to reflect the rosy glow of distant galaxies:

so far she's already been through four different tires: mph recommended a kevlar tire w/ slime seal, and since i don't want a flat tire if i can help it, i swapped out her original tires. but those tires rubbed against the fenders & picked up rocks, and it turned out the bike gallery installed tires that were too big. so i swapped -those- out with a smaller size, except that the tires were still picking up rocks and rattling in the fenders. so i swapped them out for smoother tires. it still sounded like they were picking up rocks, but at that point the bike gallery techs were irritated and i was embarrassed, so i went home. what they didn't tell me and what i wish i knew then is that as i've ridden these tires, they pick up less rocks! which explains why the original tires didn't seem to have the same problem -- they had been broken in a bit by the time i got the bike.

on her first night home, sven made brass brackets to fit stella's bike baskets to andromeda -- nobody sells her type of basket anymore and i love them with an irrational fondness. after a late-night trip last week, i'm still trying to figure out how to get her hung on the max, and i haven't attempted to out her on the bus yet. but she almost glides down the streets and it's much easier to get up hills, which is an important consideration since every route back home is all uphill.

so welcome home, andromeda! thank you for your faithful service, stella! and i appreciate your brief visit, comet!

I suppose with a name like "comet" we should have known she'd come and then go again... Maybe we'll see her again in another 76 years. :-)
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