Thursday, June 08, 2006

My Bicycle Diaries - Day One

Got the bike!

Today's Scoreboard

Bad Weather
Equipment Issue
Good Fun
Lifestyle Change
Near Misses
Weakness of the Flesh
Money Spent
Total estimated mileage

4.5 miles

Today was the day to pick up my new bike. Pretty darn exciting. Fortunately, I was able to go over to City Hall during my lunchtime to attend the ceremonies. I contacted Neighborhood Bike Works earlier in the week. I told them that I would wear their shirt and make sure it got as much exposure as I could give it. As you can see from the picture above, I look like a moving billboard. My new bike is an orange and white Fuji Charleston, three speed.

The ceremony itself was pretty simple and straightforward. They had some speakers, then let us line up to get our helmets, bags of goodies, locks and bikes. Lipton is a major sponsor, so they were giving out free samples, and Subaru was there as well. Subaru was also promoting the City to Shore MS fundraiser. If I can build my stamina up to 75 miles, I might want to take them up on the offer to ride with them. There was a lot of local press, I wonder if I got on anywhere? I don't think I'll be using the spandex shirt they gave me.

Anyway, there is no real place to park the bike at my office, I've heard that some people store them in the basement, and that no one uses the outside racks. We'll just have to see what happens when I start bringing the bike on a regular basis. After work,, I went over to the bike shop that built the bikes for the event. I realized that if I didn't want to kill myself I would have to get a rack and some sidebags. The bike shop was pleased to see me, and they could tell who built the bike by the way the been had been placed - so much for everyone getting the same bike!

As I was riding up Walnut Street a young woman passed me by on a
Raleigh ten-speed. The same model and color of my father's bike from 35 years ago. Hers was in mint condition, and she said that someone had just given it to her. Looking at it, I realized that all things I hated about it as a kid (fenders, handlebars, etc) are what I was looking for as an adult in a bike. I guess my dad had some good insight!

My wife is worried about me being an urban cyclist, and doesn't want to become a widow - with good reason. Getting my newly purchased equipment home was a challenge. Kind of ironic - but I thought about taking a cab home just so I wouldn't kill myself on the way home. I also was introduced to that very special brand of person - the Philly Driver. I had one person yell at me because he was stuck behind me on a street with slow moving traffic. He zoomed past me at one point, and then we kept seeing each other for the next five blocks. Around Rittenhouse Square, I had some jerkwad in a beat up old Pontiac cut me off as he made a right-hand turn from the second lane, all the while laughing about what he was doing with his wife and kids. One of the kids gave me the bird as they passed. Philly, the city that loves you back.

My new bike is a three speed, and this became an issue as I crossed the South Street bridge. Well, maybe it's my lack of conditioning. Never let anyone tell you Philadelphia is flat. I made it home in one piece. There is some disagreement in my family about the color, is it orange, is it bronze ... I might have to call Fuji. I spent the better part of the evening installing the new equipment, and now it looks like a much tougher bike. My kids are really curious about it, and have knocked it over a couple of times. I need to find a better place to store it. I'll think about that tomorrow.

When I was younger, I used to have a 50 mile butt. I have to fine tune the seat, because after four miles my body to seat interface is feeling rather chafed. I was going to ride the bike in to work tomorrow, but there are afternoon storms predicted. I'm taking the trolley!

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