Travel: A Bicycle for Everyone!

Pedal Power - Whoopee!

Ahh, the bikers are back, not the leather clad kind, but everyday bike riders. Its a welcome sight that I have been noticing lately. More and more people on regular touring bikes, not racing bikes, taking to the streets. The other day, I saw a man with a briefcase riding home from what looked like work. He had on business attire and his attache case was a soft version which he had strapped to his back. I work an evening job and this was right when I was traveling to this job. The other morning I saw a mom and her child on a bike. The little girl was in a small seat behind the mom all decked out in sunhat and sundress, and she looked as contented as could be. She was quite happy to observe the world around her from her vantage point. She could just sit back and enjoy the ride. What a great way to start your day! The birds were chirping and all was right with the world.

I happen to live within six miles of a large metropolitan city. Bike riders are a dime a dozen there, and, they ride their bikes similar to the way people drive in the city; in other words, they are in one big hurry. But if you get out of the hustle and bustle of the city and take a ride out to the country or even the suburbs you will see bike riders sprouting up everywhere. In this day and age of endless multitasking and being "connected" (a polite term for being on call), biking is a way to get to where you want to go without taxing the earth, relaxing your mind, and, fit in a very effective form of exercise. Except for the initial investment of the bike, its free, fun and practical. Can you tell I am a big believer in the power of the pedal?

Take Me Back

Maybe I'm feeling nostalgic, but in a way, I wish I had a touring bike, the ones with the regular handlebars. Nowadays, your choices for bikes are limitless. You can get touring bikes with virtually any configuration of handlebar style, speeds, fenders, no fenders, brakes and color schemes. There really is a bike for almost every size of person and comfort level. The people who build these wonderful machines take great pride in their skill and craftsmanship. People powered bikes do seem to be making a big comeback. I think our general dispositions will become more sunny and hopeful once we get out of our little polluting machines and onto our freedom machines.

Once upon a time I had a racing bike with the special undercurved handlebars and they were great for a racing bike, but now I'm in the mood for a touring bike. I want to take my time this time around. Yup, I was one of those very fast bikers that would dash in and out of traffic to get where I wanted to go, but many times, even back then, I would take the leisurely route around town just to see what I could see.

When I see a bikers out on the road, especially if they are riding at a relaxed pace, it transports me right back to my youth. I remember the feeling of total freedom with the summer breeze in my hair as I rode down many a road and puzzled out problems. After my little sojourns, my problems seemed not so bad. That is the magic of bike riding.

I had an aqua and silver touring bike that I absolutely loved. The chrome fenders were beautiful (all shiny and new), and the body of the bike was teal blue. I really miss that bike. My dad traded it in for a Brioni Ten Speed. I actually felt like a traitor when my dad traded that aqua bike; after all, she had done nothing except take me wherever I wanted to go. I really enjoyed the Brioni, though. This bike was lightening fast and I loved listening to the click, click, click sound of the reflectors going around the axels of the wheels. Both bikes were great for different reasons. The ten speed could get you up a hill with very little effort. My teal cruiser bike was my workhorse that I counted on to get me to just about anywhere. It was much sturdier than the ten speed. It could go on back woods dirt roads (to a point - this was not a mountain bike) if need be, and anywhere in between. I never once had a flat tire on that bike, but, sometimes my ten speed would get slow leaks. I wish things were that straightforward in my daily life now! Need to get somewhere? Hop on your bike and go, problem solved! You can make your life more simple if you want to. You just may need a perspective adjustment. Take a ride on your bike, and eventually the cobwebs clear out! I bet you're feeling better already just taking a trip back in time to kiddom.

Saturday was take care of the bikes day at our house. We'd turn them on their handlebars (upside down) and wash, polish and buff them until they were perfect. My dad would do any mechanical maintenance on them that was needed; he was really rather good at this. He taught me how to find and repair the leaks in the inner tube. He also never failed to (sternly) remind us to use the kickstand, what do you think its there for?!! We were never just allowed to drop our bikes anywhere; they had to be parked with the kickstand.

On a hot summer day, spinning the wheels to get the last remnants of soap and water from them and hearing the click, click, click of the reflectors made my nine year old world complete.

Some Bikes for You

There are many manufacturers out there making some beautifully designed bicycles. Prices can range from under $200 to over $1000, it just depends on what you want. Touring bikes come in a variety of speeds (from 1 to......) and configurations (different types of brakes, handlebars, seats, derailleurs, fenders, no fenders, load capacity, etc.). A few names to keep in mind when researching bikes are:

  • Victory Touring Bikes are, at a very reasonable $194, a fantastic value. They are a super light beautiful little bike; the frame is double tube aluminum, it has 7 speeds and (yey) a back fender. I love this bike and I love the price!
  • The Raleigh Port Townsend Bike is a sturdier bike made out of a steel frame which can carry heavy loads. Fenders on front and back tires keeps you clean, and, puncture resistant tires keep you on your path. There are 18 gears on this bike; you will have no problem riding anywhere. The basic price on this bike is $879.
  • Believe it or not, you can get a custom made bike. You are part of the design collaboration, and you can do this for under $500. Check out www.republicbike.com.
    • There's a style called the Aristotle model which has thinner tires and the Plato Dutch models have fatter tires. You can make your tire whitewalls different colors and use a different color for the bike frame. Its virtually up to you. You can "build"/design your bike online. What fun for the adventuresome soul!
  • Just a few things for you to dream about. Happy tours to bicyclists everywhere!


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