Friday, November 26, 2010

Mental Shift: Finding the Right Bicycle for Me

I find that I get bored very quickly. Perhaps bored is the wrong choice of word, as it's really more that I have an incessant need for change, and monotony is like death to me (it's a little shocking that I actually married, as some have pointed out to me). I'm actually very rarely find myself bored as I can entertain myself with the simplest activities. This idea of wanting change, however, is apparent in many facets of life. I let my hair grow until it's long, and then one day decide to cut it all off into a short little do. I change the color of my hair with relative frequency (or at least I had up until about 2 years ago).
Believe me, these don't even come close to covering all the hair cuts/colors I've had just in the last 10-15 years
I grew up loving thrift store clothing because it expanded my wardrobe inexpensively, and then I could donate anything I wasn't using to others. I even had a job at one point in which I asked if I could be "permanently temporary" because the idea of actually working in a place long term truly disturbed me. Surprisingly, they went along with it. I have repainted the inside of our home at least four times in the seven years we've lived here.

With all the changes that go on in life (most of which, for me, have been self-imposed), I was thinking that it is always nice to have some steady things to rely on. Though I have gone through a few bikes over the past couple of years, I don't think those had anything to do with a need for change. In fact, I think they were natural changes that helped me understand exactly what it is that I needed in a bicycle to make it functionally appropriate for me. It's so easy to get caught up in what others are doing, or in bicycle chic-ness. I realized that it's important to look at who I am, and how I need to ride in order to find what will work best for me. It doesn't negate any of the thoughts or experiences I had while riding each of those past bicycles, and in fact, if I had a place to store each of them, and the money to maintain them, I don't think there was a bicycle I've had that I wouldn't have kept. At some point though, I realized that I can only ride so many bicycles and one or more will get less use simply because favorites rise to the top.
Tony Stark (Hillborne) with Sam and his Surly LHT in the background
I think the Hillborne has slowly become my do-anything, ride-anywhere, in anything kind of bike, and I think I'm a bit shocked by this. First of all, I never saw myself riding a road bike. I grew up with the generation of kids that thought mountain bikes were "it." I'd had a mountain bicycle as my mode of transportation since I was quite young, and the last road bike I'd ridden was my mom's when I was probably around 10 years of age. The mountain bikes always hurt my hands/wrists, but I believed that was part of riding a bike (since it was all that I had really known). When Sam purchased Stuart for me in 2009, I was elated to find such a comfortable ride that didn't make my hands go numb.
Stuart, my Electra Daisy, waiting to go for a ride in 2009
Not only was I thrilled that my hands didn't ache, but also that Sam was so thoughtful to think of such a great gift for me. I loved Stuart and it was sad to see him go, but I felt it was for the greater good. When I purchased the Pashley, I thought she would be my all around, comfortable all the time bicycle... and she was. The problem that I found is that I wanted to go on longer rides, and she just wasn't meant for very long distance rides (though I know some have used these bicycles for touring). While I could've kept both the Pashley and the Hillborne, it felt somehow wasteful.
Pashley Princess Sovereign
The Pashley just wasn't being ridden to the extent I'd hoped, and it was an expensive option sitting around gathering dust. In part this is due to our location in the midst of nearly nothing, and in part it was that I found the Hillborne suited my needs just fine. This was something I hadn't expected at all. Time will tell whether or not the Hillborne truly is "the one," but in the mean time, I find that I use it more and more for various purposes from riding the 3 miles to Walgreens for a tin of coffee to going on slightly longer distance rides, like today when I rode the 18 mile round trip to get my hair roots touched up. Plus, he does great on much longer rides too. I'm comfortable, it's set up to be functional to carry items with me, including my purse, and it makes me happy to ride it. In the end, I think what is most important is to find what works for me, whether or not it's the best bike for someone else. I suppose that is what life is all about though... having experiences, learning from them, and doing our best to be true to ourselves. I'm excited to see where the bicycle journey takes me, and hopefully, the Hillborne will be along for a long, long time to enjoy.

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