Thursday, August 25, 2011


In October of 2008, I had a gigantic cookie order with Showtime Networks, and I produced about 8500 cookies for them within a month. With some of the earnings at the end, I decided to purchase a bike. I drove to Santa Monica to a bike shop somewhere on 4th Street, and I met my friend, who agreed to put the bike in his big SUV and drive it to my West Hollywood apartment.

I wasn't at all bike savvy. My only criteria was that I wanted thick tires and not those skinny little things that go flat all the time. At least, that had been my experience in the past.

The shop was having sales to get rid of their 2008 inventory and get ready for the 2009. I test rode two bikes - both by GT, but the first one, which was blue, was perhaps too large a frame for me and I didn't feel at ease or in control. To prove the point, I wobbled so badly that I lightly crashed into the side of a parked delivery truck. After pulling myself away from the vehicle, I wobbled back to the shop and chose the other model, which I immediately felt in control of. My criteria for the big tires was met. The bike, originally priced around $500, had been reduced to $350, and I paid it, along with a helmet, bottle cage, bottle and headlight.

It was a hybrid. A GT Timberline Fitness Series. I didn't know what a hybrid was, and even if I had, I'm not sure it would have mattered to me at the time.

I rode the bike somewhat regularly for the first few months, then less frequently, and then it just stayed parked in my living room.... waiting. Partly it waited because when a tire would lose air after sitting for several months, it was a hassle to walk it up to the gas station to fill it up. I also had issues with my hands going numb on the handle bars because there is only one position for the hands, and they never move.

In 2010 my mother came out to visit for my birthday and she asked what I wanted, and I immediately said "A bicycle pump." I equally wanted riding gloves, however. We took a little trip over to I. Martin Imports, which is about a mile away, and she bought me the pump, and I bought the gloves. Now I had no excuse not to ride, right?

Well, I did ride again on occasion, but it wasn't until push came to shove with my unreliable car that I'd finally had enough and decided it was time to ride the bike to and from work - 6 miles round trip. That was 4 months ago. Now my daily commute is a 15-miler and I've even done a 58.1 mile excursion.

In the last 4 months of riding, I have learned a lot about the hybrid. One of the things I've discovered is that no matter how many miles I work out each week or how furiously I pedal, I cannot ever keep pace with a road bike. Those nubby tires and front and seat shock absorbers do me in. It's a bit like slogging through mud all the time. It is also impossible to stand and pedal which means that I am sitting on the powerful gluts muscles when I am trying to power up a hill, and this pulls on my lower back and creates tension, discomfort and downright pain. The riding gloves help some with the numbness but not entirely.

I have once pushed the bike to 20 mph going on a slight downhill. Several times I have gotten to 18 mph, even on an uphill grade, but I have little hope of getting it much faster than that.

I don't regret my decision to buy the bike. It's a good starter bike, but now I have the cycling bug, and a hybrid can't get me to where I want to go or be. It will simply never keep up, and I have the itch to ride far.

A road bike is in my future, probably a Trek Madone, and I. Martin will be just the place to get it.

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