Lately, I have had a really tough time falling asleep. There is much swirling through my head (which is not at all unusual) and I just cannot seem to find a comfortable spot to plant myself to actually go to sleep. I've pretty well given up on even trying to force myself until well after midnight, so it gives me lots of time in the quiet with my thoughts.
Sometimes I read, attempt to watch an old television show I could act out myself from the sheer quantity of views to date, or research some bit or part we need to continue our house project renovations. More often than not though, I have used this time to simply let my mind wander to whatever it needs to work through, which frequently leans toward projects in need of completion or attempts to figure out how/why a situation has gone wrong.
Don't get me wrong, nothing can replace the sensations and rush of new or unknown possibilities. Change absolutely has its place, and certainly comes with its benefits too.
With these moves though, sometimes a new space feels immediately comfortable and as though it always has been while others have taken much time to feel "right," and in the case of a few, never reached that point at all. It's not belongings or knickknacks that make it home to me - there tends to simply be a feeling of rightness or not. It's a bit of the intangible or unspoken. There is something that connects me to the place on another level, and it either exists or it doesn't. Sometimes, the this-is-my-home-feeling comes in time, but, at least generally speaking, there is usually some sense of that from the start or it never quite develops at all.
If you've ever moved into a new-to-you home and found yourself performing actions without thought, such as walking into a room and flipping on the light switch as a reflex rather than out of cognizant intention, or easily maneuvering from one side to another in the dark, these are the sort of happenings that seem to take place almost immediately in a house that feels like home. There is something - for lack of a better adjective at the moment - familiar, even in a not-so-well-known space.
As I lay thinking in bed one evening, with an exhausted dog snoring and stretched out across my legs, I realized that I have had similar findings in regard to bicycles. Now, granted it's not quite the same because a bicycle has to fit properly to begin with or it can become a nightmare to resolve any issues, but for me there is usually a sense from the start as to whether it has potential to work appropriately over the long term, or not.
I have had occasion to be lulled into bicycles that are pretty on the surface but are entirely wrong in practice. I've ignored the little voice telling me that something didn't fit in favor of looks on more than one occasion as well.
How is it then that I should decide if a bike will come to be one that is long standing and true or one that I simply have found favor with for a time? I believe sometimes changes in feel can be attributed to our bodies adapting and morphing a bit over time. From season to season, year to year, and sometimes even day to day, a bike that once seemed to fit like a glove can turn and become this beast I don't know at all. I find myself uncomfortable and fidgety, body parts feeling pain or aches that are not normally present, and it's as though a bike demon arrived in the night to foul up a perfectly good ride.
This, however, is often how I'm able to weed through those that are keepers and those that can move on. If, over time, that feeling of discomfort does not diminish and pain remains, I can fairly well say that the bicycle is not right for me. If the feeling is temporary though, I am able to chalk it up to those minor changes that happen in a body from day to day and resume the blissful relationship with my two-wheeled companion.
Of course, there are times when adaptations are needed to make a bicycle work, so please do not believe I am speaking in some mystical way or believing that a bicycle should arrive perfectly suited to my individual particularities. We are talking about a man-made item after all.
I do think in any bicycle I am always looking for that familiar sensation though. By no means would I want every bicycle to ride exactly the same (what would be the point in multiple bicycles then?), but I think there is a certain level of comfort and understanding when there is some (often intangible) quality that just feels right, intuitive really. Then, over time, I come to better understand whether it's the right fit for my body and needs.
As someone who actually enjoys change and experiencing the new, it's an odd realization to discover that some form of familiarity is very often how I've determined whether a bicycle works for my needs.
How do you decide if a bicycle is right for you? Do you depend on others' research? Do you look for that familiar quality as well? Do you go by some other sensation? Perhaps you perform adjustments and modifications until it's good enough or perhaps perfect? Do you work with what you have, even if the fit isn't quite right? Perhaps there is some other method you use to know when a bike works and when it doesn't.