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I Got a Bike!!

Yup, that’s right—I finally bit the bullet and bought a bike. I was planning on renting a couple more times to get used to it before buying one to ride to work every day, but my friend Janelle convinced me that I could get one cheap enough that spending more money on renting didn’t make much sense. She had actually just bought the same model we rented (the KHS Manhattan Green), and told me that it had a reputation as a sturdy bike with good components that’s cheaper than you’d expect.

Isn't she beautiful?

It’s not a high-end bike, but I think if it were I’d be really paranoid about it getting stolen. If it looks like a rental, all the better. A homeless guy  heckling me on Saturday actually shouted, “Give me a ride on your bike!” And then . . .  “Aw, it’s a rental. Nevermind.”

It’s a 3-speed commuter bike, so it sits more upright than a 10-speed or mountain bike. It has coaster brakes, which I love, as well as a front hand brake. And a bell! I’m adding a front basket tonight, because my purse really got in the way today. For those of you who have bikes, do you like front baskets or back ones better? Or panniers?

Ling at Cambridge Bicycle was super helpful. I felt like an idiot knowing absolutely nothing about bikes—or even how my helmet should fit—but she talked me through it all really patiently and cheerily. And I get free maintenance for a year. Ling said we should come in once in about a month, then again at the end of the summer, and once more next spring. She also said we should inflate our tires (for free at the store) once a week and grease the chain each time it rains. Really? That seems like a lot of work to me. Do you guys put this much maintenance into it?

I’ve done the run to work twice now, once on a Saturday and once today. Thanks to Google Maps’ bicycle feature, which showed me a shortcut that bypasses the rotary, it hasn’t been as nerve-wracking as I thought it would be. I am a little white-knuckled on the Mass. Ave. bridge, especially when buses drift over the line into the bicycle lane. Boylston and Newbury streets are a little busy, too, with lots of pedestrians and double parkers who block the way. But oddly enough it’s actually been other bicyclists who have been the most difficult to deal with. One stayed in my peripheral vision all the way across the bridge, irritated that he couldn’t pass me. Another whizzed past to make a right turn, cutting me off. I’ve always been irritated at aggressive bicyclists, but I thought they’d be nicer if I myself was on a bike, even if my pace was more like a grandmother’s Sunday drive. But I guess jerks are just jerks, whether they’re riding a bike, driving a car, or jaywalking.


Comment from Danielle
Time April 13, 2010 at 2:25 am

Agreed, jerks are jerks. Congratulations!

1. Buy a tire pump. They cost like $25. I, too, thought “oh I can just stop by the bike shop” but it’s really much simpler to own a pump.

2. I have a front basket—a classic British Wald that’s big enough for my messenger bag and a little more—and I use a bungee cord to strap everything in. I like it a lot, largely because I can see that my bags have not gone flying and I find panniers ugly. Oh, and the one time I tried to strap on a back basket it knocked against my butt. However, putting anything on the front of the bike will make the bike harder to control. I eventually got used to it but I felt super-wobbly for a good three weeks.

Comment from Elisabeth
Time April 13, 2010 at 10:49 am

Congrats on the bike! It’s a sweet ride.

Re: maintenance, yes definitely it is a good idea to inflate the tires every week. Keeping the tires hard makes them less likely to be punctured by glass or other road debris, and there’s a lot of that around here. And keeping the chain lubed up makes the bike easier to ride and makes the chain, chainring, and gears last longer.

I also prefer a front rack or basket so that I can see my stuff. I once lost my breakfast scone out of my rear basket (it popped out from under my bungee net!) and didn’t even know it was gone until a fellow cycler came up beside me to do a handoff a few blocks later! Crisis averted.

Comment from Jenn the Greenmom
Time April 17, 2010 at 1:08 pm


Way to go! Good for you–I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to do this if there were not a fairly quiet route I could take the whole way. And for better or worse, there aren’t many bikers out here, so I haven’t had much experience with what you’re describing. (On the other hand, Midwestern DRIVERS seem to be a lot calmer and more polite than the ones I remember from the Boston area, so I suppose it translates…)

Hang in there! You’re my inspiration–maybe next week I’ll do the actual real life commute thing..

Comment from 4 Bushel Farmgal
Time April 18, 2010 at 6:24 am

I commute twice a week, since I have committments on the other days that call for a car (but I’m working on that, too.)
Sturdy bikes are better for commuting, so yours is a very good choice.
Hoping all your rides are filled with sunshine!

Comment from Brenda Pike
Time April 18, 2010 at 10:35 pm

I only did it twice this week, too, because I’m not comfortable yet riding after dark or in the rain. But I’m hoping to do it more often as I get used to it. Thanks for the support!

Comment from Brenda Pike
Time April 18, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Thanks, Jenn. I’ve had people tell me that they feel more comfortable traveling in packs with other bicyclists, but maybe it has to be the right pack… And I’m afraid you might be right about Boston people being more aggressive—including me. I would totally flip people off if I weren’t afraid to take my hands off the handlebars!

Comment from EcoYogini
Time May 14, 2010 at 1:50 pm

I just bought a bike this year too!! I am pUMPED, but pretty darn scared to ride during rush hour (so I walk to work).

I bought a basket dealy for the back, figure it would be easier to control and am going to order an “eco” bell from “dringdring” (a cute Montreal company).

I have no idea about the rules for maintenance, but buying a tire pump is a good idea.

Sadly, my bike is previously loved- but in excellent vintage condition…. so i’m UBER paranoid that it will be stolen. She lives in our living room currently haha.

A Green Spell is also chronicling her adventure via bicycle- perhaps it would be fun to have a “Blogger Bike Club” 🙂

Glad I found you through Erin@The Conscious Shopper!


Comment from Brenda Pike
Time May 14, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Thanks! It’s definitely nice to have the support of other bike riders. I’m lucky to have a bunch of people at work who ride, too, so I can ask them questions (or just gripe about jerks in cars).

Comment from Liv
Time May 20, 2010 at 3:16 pm

How have you liked it this last month? I have been thinking about ordering one from my local bike shop on Saturday, but I am a little nervous. Thanks! 🙂

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