So I bought a bike this week.
After searching on craigslist for weeks, I finally found one that I thought I could love: a 1995 Schwinn Searcher Transit. The only problem was that it was located in Rockland County, approximately 65 miles away from me. However, the more I looked at the bike in the photos the seller had provided, the more I wanted this bike. So, armed with a GPS and a boyfriend, I headed north toward Stony Point, NY, on Tuesday. Two hours (and one unfortunate wrong turn) later, I arrived at the seller’s house. I took the Schwinn out for a spin and, just as I had predicted, I instantly fell in love. I also test drove a GT mountain bike… but already knew that I would be taking the Schwinn home. So I paid the man and drove home with the bike in tow.
Once back on Staten Island, I decided to drop the bike off at a local bike shop to make sure that everything was working correctly and that it wouldn’t fall apart on me as soon as I took it out for a decent ride. One day and $30 later, I had the bike back in my possession. This is when I decided that I ought to sit down and really think about how I was going to use this bike. (It’s one thing to own a bike. It’s an entirely different thing to use the bike.) Because the Schwinn is a hybrid, it can handle two types of terrains: pavement and dirt. However, I’m not interested in off-roading. And commuting is out of the question for the time being. (It would take an obscenely long amount of time to get to Brooklyn from Staten Island by bike. I am not yet prepared for a ~30mi ride each way. Actually, I would be surprised if even seasoned commuters can handle such a trek.) I could maybe use this bike recreationally, taking it to any one of the parks that makes Staten Island “the borough of parks.” But, really, I’m not interested in that, either. Basically, I want to use this bike as a utility vehicle: I want to be able to ride the 1.5 miles to the bank or the farmers market or the post office. (Strangely enough, the 3 places are all in different locations. Yet, somehow, I am at the epicenter.) There’s no reason that I should be taking the car on such short drives.
I’ve already made some modifications to my bike that should make my travels easier. For example, I replaced the saddle. Instead of the stock Schwinn saddle, I now have a Forte Women’s Contour saddle. (I’m finding it rather comfortable. It’s definitely better than the original slippery saddle.) Next, I affixed a water bottle cage and a bell. (It’s illegal to ride a bike in NYC without a bell. The more you know!) Next up is installing the rear rack and attaching the matching trunk bag with collapsible panniers, which will allow me to carry loads of groceries with me. (Wearing a backpack while bicycling results in a very gross and sweaty back. Very uncomfortable.) I also bought a headlight and taillight to help me see at night. (Actually, the purpose of the lights is to make me visible to other riders and motorists, not necessarily help illuminate the road. I would need stronger lights for that purpose.) Finally, I purchased 2 locks: a cable lock and a U-lock. (The two will keep my bike secure and provide insurance that I will have a ride home.)
I also got some non-essential accessories, like cycling gloves and a cyclocomputer. The former is to keep my hands comfortable on rides and the latter is just to keep track of my cycling stats. In the future, I want to be able to use my bike to commute to work. However, that will probably not happen for another few years, until I secure a full-time job in a more bike-friendly part of the city, like Brooklyn.
In addition to riding it, I’m finding that I’m also enjoying working on the bike. I like getting my hands dirty and figuring out how everything works and why. This is one hobby that I think I can actually enjoy. It’s also a hobby in which I can partake with Alex, as we do most of our shopping together. He’s also always looking for ways to be healthier, so it was very easy convincing him to start biking more.