Tall, Dark, and Mysterious

8/18/2005

Is there a bike expert in the house?

File under: Know Thyself, I Like To Ride My Bicycle, What I Did On My Summer Vacation. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 2:47 pm.

Last time I asked, I received. Let’s see if this works twice…

The background: when I arrived back on the mainland last month, I decided that I was going to bike one thousand kilometers before the beginning of September. Biking here is a lot more pleasant than biking in Island Town: while the terrain is far from flat, it’s bikable, and there are enough clearly-marked bike routes that most drivers are not completely taken aback when they see someone commuting on two wheels.

Today, my odometer registered my one thousandth kilometer. In the past five weeks, I have travelled exclusively under my own power; this is the longest I’ve gone in years without setting foot in a car or bus. More amusingly, this is the longest I’ve gone in a year without setting foot on a boat - a stretch that will be broken soon, when I visit the last of the Gulf Islands.

Now that I am back in a bike-friendly city, I have become keenly aware that while my vehicle is an excellent car, it’s not such a great bike. It gets me up otherwise insurmountable hills, but it’s heavy, clunky, and awkward. So - I’m in the market for a new bike, a non-electric one.

Here’s what I am looking for:

  • I’d like to keep the cost of bike + gear under $500.
  • I live in a somewhat hilly city, so I’ll want a bike capable of handling hills.
  • I have bad knees; I’ve had a few flare-ups during which I could barely walk. Mild exercise keeps them in good shape, and biking is good for them; deep knee bends are bad for them. I’d like to get a bike for which my leg is extended completely when the pedal is at the bottom of the cycle; but setting the seat at such a position as to make that possible on most bikes I’ve ridden, doesn’t permit even my toes to rest on the ground when I stop. Do there exist bikes in which the pedals are not directly below the seat, but at an angle? Or pedals where the “up” and “down” positions are closer together than they are on most bikes?
  • In addition to having bad knees, I have a bad back. I’d like to be as close to upright as possible when biking; road bikes, therefore, are pretty much out.

Does anyone have any ideas?

1/31/2005

Infinitely many kilometers per liter

File under: Know Thyself, Hubris, I Like To Ride My Bicycle. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 2:53 pm.

At the beginning of the term, I was unhappy with my teaching schedule: sixteen hours per week, thirteen of which are spread over two days, and the other three of which are spread over another two days. I didn’t anticipate one huge benefit of that until the term began: my light teaching days don’t leave me ready to collapse at the end of the day, and that makes them good days to bike to school.

I put 100 km on my bicycle last week, and when I get back home today, it’ll have travelled another 20 km. I used to hate exercising, because I have an unusual mix of preferences and abilities: I’m woefully uncoordinated (which rules out team sports and dancing), I have bad knees (running would be the death of them), I hate being indoors (nix aerobics and the gym track), and I like being able to keep track of my progress (making things like hiking less than ideal). A bicycle equipped with a speedometer/odometer is tailor-made for people like me.

One of these days I should write about the dozen more conversations I’ve had that began with, say - is that an electric bike? It’s made me the most popular kid on the Island.

9/21/2004

Rationalization

File under: Know Thyself, I Like To Ride My Bicycle. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 11:14 am.

My last bicycle cost me $150. It did the job - it got me from A to B, for most pertinent values of A and B in Vancouver - and didn’t do much else. It was rusty, and some of the gears didn’t shift too smoothly, and pedalling uphill was more of an ordeal than it would have been on a more expensive bike. However, spending hundreds, even thousands of dollars, can you imagine? - on something like a bicycle is irresponsible, plain and simple. It’s just not necessary. There are better uses for that sort of money.

That said: since I live in a town with formidable hills, no supermarket within a 1.5-hour walk, and an anemic public transit system, I feel no guilt whatsoever over having spent that sort of money on my new car.