Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Giant Leap For Wally's Health and Finances

I bought a bike yesterday.

I'm over six feet tall, with long arms and legs. Store-bought bicycles (Wal-Mart, etc) available in the last decade simply do not fit, and are tiring and muscle straining to ride. My Schwinn's that I owned when I was a child had to be special-ordered, because of my height. Now, that legendary company is no more.

So, reluctantly, I went to a specialist bike shop.

They took videos , and measurements, ran it all through a computer, and came up with a bike for me. I was expecting a Macho Grande huge frame- but this bike has a twenty inch/fifty cm center post. It used to be 22 inches. Every setting was customized, seat, handlebars, stroke length, everything. I got a back rack, and saddle bags capable of full bags of groceries, each. By the time I got the lights, helmet, and other accessories, my cheap Scots-Irish side was about to have a stroke (a half-year's worth of gas!!).

It's worth it. The bike has 24 speeds, has shock mountings, and maneuvers magnificently. I can now climb hills without dismounting (albeit slowly). Since most of my missions are for less then 5 klicks, and carrying less than twenty kilos, this will save much fuel. It will also build up endurance with low-impact exercise. I hate gyms.

The only bummers are that I cannot carry Max, and that I can't carry huge equipment loads in IFR conditions. The bike is VFR-only. Riding in Cat 1 IFR is possible, but suicidal because of the humans driving. Traffic loads have more than doubled since I last rode a bike regularly.

Work is 22 km away. City streets can carry me there. It will take a few months to build up the endurance. That's a gallon of fuel a day, and I don't have to depend on the bus/Metro Link. If the weather is really bad, bikes are allowed on many buses and Metro Link. The best I can hope for is a 40% reduction of vehicle travel. The car will last longer...

The estimated payback time, in fuel alone, is about 206 working days. Time is the tradeoff, of course. Welcome to a 4T.

I was shocked at how quickly riding came back. Bikes are the closest thing to flying in terms of a kinesthetic experience. Quite the rush. The helmet isn't nearly as cool, though... :)

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