So for the past couple of months I’ve been riding a bicycle to work, something that I’ve come to enjoy a great deal. I had been contemplating riding a bicycle for quite some time (over a year at least), often wondering about how safe it would be to do so and how it would be to manage a bicycle. My biggest concern was safety: when I lived in New York, I had heard many stories of bicyclists getting hit by cars, and here in San Francisco, I also heard many stories from people who had been hit by cars, as well as saw a person who had been hit after the fact (I was looking the opposite direction when it happened). The stories I had hear were mostly of the bruised and little banged up type, nothing life threatening, but still enough to cause concern, especially since I think the drivers in San Francisco aren’t the greatest.
(On the other hand, I did hear a story from Amy once that was the worst: while walking to work she heard an accident and looked over and saw and older chinese man who was doing a food delivery on the ground, having been hit by a car, and the last thing he said before he died was “I have to make my delivery”…).
Well, so a couple of months ago the company I work for had finally found a new place to move to (our office was at Ghirardelli Square and every company in the building had to leave because the building was sold and is being turned into a hotel). Since the new place (over by Levi’s Plaza) was a good bit further away–too far for walking–and not easily accessible by bus, I decided then to try out riding a bicycle to Ghirardelli to see if I’d like it, and if so, to use a bike as my primary means to get to work once we got to the new place.
Now, fortunately for me, Lisa, when she first moved to Berkeley, opened up a bank account at Bank of America and put her name in a fish bowl and won a bike. This bike wasn’t the greatest and I think was a women’s bike, but it had been sitting around for the past few years never having been ridden (she didn’t need it in Berkeley since she lived maybe a couple blocks from campus, and once in San Francisco, neither of us found a need to ride the bicycle). So I decided to buy a helmet and give bicycling a try.
Well, that bike was quite a piece of work! For one, it was *very* heavy, and after a while I realized that the back tire was almost in constant contact with the breaks. I had asked my friend Alex at work to give it a look over as he used to work at a bike shop and he told me that ride it to give it a try but recommended that I really should get a different bike.
So, for a month or so, I was riding this bike off and on to work, and after the first couple weeks the handle bars started getting loose and it was impossible to tighten it enough to stick. Well, after giving bicycling a try I found that I felt comfortable enough and enjoyed it very much. So I thought that what I’d do was try to learn about bicycles, try to maintain the bike, and ride that bike until the end of the year.
After a few days at the new office, I realized that the handlebars together with the break which had gotten progressively worse was just too much, and that I wanted to get a new bike. What really did it was that one night I was trying to adjust the bike and realized that the frame was somehow bent out of sorts and just wasn’t really repairable. I reset and retightened the wheels and somehow the wheel seemed freely moving and thought I’d give it one more go (even though I had already thought to get a new bike), and the next morning on the way to work, after a few blocks riding and a few bumps, the wheel reset itself in the frame and went the other way than it had been, the wheel touching the frame, making the bicycle completely unrideable. I ended up pushing the bicyle all the way to work and immediately looked into getting a new bicycle.
Another friend of mine had just purchased a new bike a few days before at Performance Bicycle, as they were having a big sale to move out this year’s inventory to make room for next year’s. The store was recommended by Alex and so I decided I would go there as soon as I could and get a new bike. So a few days later I finally had time to go after work. I went there, got great help, found a bicycle that wasn’t too expensive that I liked and felt good, purchased it and rode it home.
Amazing. The difference between the two bikes is night and day, the new bicycle being maybe half the weight of the last one. Even more, I didn’t realize how much the break on the last bike was slowing me down, as on this new bike I was just flying on it! The first bike really built up my leg muscles, but I’m glad that this new bike is so much easier to ride as I’m now getting to work faster and am enjoying the ride that much more.
All in all, I’ve come to really enjoy and appreciate riding a bicycle. I’m not listening to as much music(walking) or reading as much(bus), but the exercise has been great and it’s been liberating to be able to consider all the possibilities now that have opened up in exploring the city. I also like the idea that I’m not paying for bus fare (the savings in bus fares should pay for the bike in a half year) and somehow feel more environmentally conscience for riding a bicycle.
It’s great fun, too!