I had a bike for years – my mom’s old one from the 70′s – it was a candy apple green road bike. My mom is a few inches shorter than me, so her bike is a bad fit physically (but not emotionally. I loved that thing). But I put up with it because I rode for like a week or two out of the year, when the weather in Austin was just cool enough that my lips didn’t freeze and just warm enough that I didn’t show up somewhere sweaty.
Austin has hills, mind you. So I was a wimp about going anywhere on the bike. But then I had a kid or two, and got a trailer to tote them around. It seemed much safer than the kid bike seats (if your bike falls over, so do they) and I can bring things like groceries home without worrying about loading everything on my back. This is when I noticed how poorly my bike and I fit together, when toting around the large child that is Eebs. A spot in the middle of my back pinched and my wrists kind of ached.
Then last year I used my bike non-stop for SXSW. Hubs and I both loved how proud we were to actually be traversing the city on a bike like so many people do, and to not be caught in the congestion of everyone trying just to get downtown. It was perfect. But my back, it hurt. So I didn’t ride the rest of the year, even though I wanted to. Once I felt the pinch, I couldn’t un-feel it.
All year I’ve talked to Hubs about wanting a new bike. I’ve looked on Craigslist. I’ve asked around my friends. I looked on criticalcycles.com. I had a budget and didn’t know if I wanted a decent bike that needed some work, or a cheap bike that was new.
Somehow a few weeks ago the planets aligned. One our friends had an old bike frame that he never got around to using and said I could have it on the cheap. Done. It was the perfect size, too. I got it home and immediately spray painted it aqua. The neighbors had wheels and handlebars that they didn’t need when they got their bikes last year, so we bought those. My bro-in-law fixed up my green bike when I got it from my mom all those years ago, and said he could harvest it for parts to build me a bike again. I had only a few parts to get for him to finish – new tires and tubes, grips, a fork, and a chain.
ZN assembled what he could while waiting for the rest of the parts. I bought everything at a local bike store except for the fork – I ordered it express from Amazon via USPS and almost had an aneurism waiting for the thing to come. After a week, and only a few days before SXSW, I was starting to panic. Who can build a bike in a day?
My bro-in-law can. He finally got the fork in the mail and spent the rest of the day assembling. He furiously adjusted the squeaks and creaks until it was pure bike perfection. He didn’t even laugh (too much) at my request for a kickstand. He was as excited for me to see it as I was getting it.
It fits and rides like a dream. I spent Sunday evening staying up much too late polishing it, adding the safety lights, and taking it for spins in the yard. I basically stared at my bike, admiring its beauty, and realizing I was Pee Wee in Big Adventure. And my life was complete.
I can’t wait to use it this week and then take the girls for a spin in the trailer (post festival – hopefully A2 is big enough to fit in the seat next to Eebs and the straps will keep her upright). Maybe I’ll realize that the hills aren’t so bad and get used to the impending heat if I ride non-stop from now till August! Or at the very least, be able to ride and not get a pinch in my back.