Well, we picked them up this weekend and it’s just the most wonderful thing. They’re bikes!
Now, before I get to the big reveal of how incredibly pretty they are (since I know you’ve been waiting in suspense since I mentioned a mysterious new purchase), here is a history of why we bought them.
My Bike History
I was one of the kids who rode bikes to school and friends’ houses back in elementary school. That stopped when we moved for middle school because we lived in a suburb that was simply not suited to life in anything but a car (or a motorcycle, which is what my mom uses and loves). I had a bike in college, but I only used it for a little while because it go so darn cold in New York State, and then it was all rusty come spring.
The city we used to live in actually had a lot of bicyclists. Between the few small businesses I worked at, I had at least five coworkers who biked to work at least some of the time, and at least one who used his bike as his sole mode of transport. And he loved it. The distances were relatively short, so I decided I, too, could bike to work. But I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to, so we went to Target to buy me a cheap bike I could use while I decided if I really did like biking. That was Leggy:
I liked riding Leggy to work, but I only did it three or four times. There were just too many things making it slightly too difficult to bike to work.
- Number one–my commute was already so short that biking didn’t really help that much–it was only a 10 minute walk.
- Number two–the streets in my neighborhood were so narrow that cars had no ability to pass me whatsoever, so I felt like I was in the way all the time.
- Number three– we didn’t have a good way to store her at home other than just leaving her in the living room, where she took up way too much space.
- And finally, number four– she weighed about 50 pounds, which I had to carry up three or four steps to get into our house. It was way too difficult to lift her comfortably, so I just didn’t do it. And so Leggy lived in our basement for the next two and a half years. She didn’t come with us on this move.
What We Wanted and Why
Before we moved here, we knew it was a really car-focused city, and we wanted to find a way not to have to buy another car. Note that we currently have three cars between the four adults living in our apartment, and it was important to us not to have a fourth.
Since we moved here, I noticed that aside from the 30 mile drive I have once a week to teach my ballet class, almost everywhere I go is less than 2 miles from my house. The 19 hours or so of dance rehearsals I have every week are all within that radius, the Architect’s office is within that radius, and most of the fun places we go are, too. I’ve found myself over and over actively wishing I had a bike when checking google maps for directions. Most of them are a 30-40 minute walk and a 6 minute drive. I feel really lame getting in the car to go what really amounts to a few blocks when I think about the poor atmosphere and everyone’s lungs, but that long of a walk just isn’t always feasible. But then we’re talking a 15 minute bike ride, which is absolutely a reasonable distance. Plus, the Architect is always wanting to find ways to be more active but never really having the time. Bikes were a perfect solution.
The failure that was Leggy gave us all kinds of information we needed when choosing bikes this time in a way that means we really would ride.
We knew the bikes had to be much lighter than Leggy so I could lift mine if necessary. Also Leggy was a one speed, which was fine with the flat terrain where I rode her, but it’s hillier here (not super hilly, just not a pancake). So we wanted more than one speed. I knew I needed a step-through frame with the swooshy lady bar so I could ride in my skirts. And finally, they needed to look good. Now, not everyone is this way, but with me being super girly and the Architect, well, being an architect, aesthetics are very important to us. I wouldn’t get that excited riding a bike that I just didn’t think was pretty. We wanted to invest in quality bikes that have quality components rather than going with the cheapest thing possible we end up not wanting to ride, since we’re very serious about using them as commuting vehicles.
What We Got
So we told all that to the sales guy at our local bike shop, and he suggested Linus Bikes. They are just beautiful bikes inspired by 50’s and 60’s French films with some really useful parts that come with — a leather seat, a handlebar bell, a back rack, leather handle grips. And oh, so pretty.
Mine is the Dutchi 3 in Marine. Ever since my mom had a blue bike with a brown leather seat when I was a kid, I’ve secretly dreamed of having my own. And now I do! I named her Bluebird. Here she is!
The Architect’s bike is the Roadster Sport in black. Of course it’s black. He’s an architect. I think he actually wanted a really cool bright color, but men’s bikes tend not to come in them. Anyway, his bike is named Nevermore. (Get it, since black birds are Ravens?)
After we picked them up, we took some pictures riding around the parking lot to show you guys. And I’m sure to have a bunch more bike-related posts coming up as I solve a few of my bike problems–which currently have everything to do with how to carry my things easily.
Riding around town here, we discovered that it’s actually very bike-friendly, even though you wouldn’t think so given how many cars there are. But the city is really making an effort to encourage other modes of transport–it’s one of the few cities in my knowledge actually building public transit infrastructure. There are a lot of bike lanes and signs reminding drivers to share the road. And, the roads are wide enough that cars can easily pass at a safe distance without having to wait for me to wave them by at all the stop signs.
So far, we rode home from the bike shop, and I went on a couple errands by bike. The Architect has now commuted to work by bike twice, and he really likes it. Here’s to our whole new life, freely flying through the streets without being stuck looking for parking spots. I am hoping to work my way up to using the car only for that 30 mile drive to teach my class and travel long distances.
I know my mom rides a motorcycle for fun and to save gas. Anybody else reading use modes of transportation other than cars?
See you next time!