Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Bike Fleet

"Why do you have so many bicycles?" a lady of my acquaintance asked. "How many pairs of shoes do you have?" I replied. There was a brief pause before she said, "Oh. I get it." Yes. I have one for commuting and one for weekend riding and one that folds to go in the car, and one I don't ride any more, and one or two I've been meaning to give away, and there's one that was just too nice and too cheap not to buy even though I didn't really need it. Bikes are specialized, like insects, but some, like some insects, are adaptable. Because I got them one at a time over the years, they overlap somewhat in their specialization. I got a racing-style bicycle that was light and fun to ride, but I didn't want to ride it on bumpy city streets, and it didn't take fenders for rainy days, so I built a commuter from a Schwinn Sierra to ride to work. I got a folding bike so I could have one with me in the car--you never know when you may want a bicycle. Then I got an old Raleigh roadster because I've always liked them. Then I built a Surly Cross Check because I'd heard good things about them. The racing bike and the Surly overlap on weight and speed. The Sierra and Roadster overlap on durability, utility and (unfortunately) weight. The Surly and the Sierra overlap on having low gears for hill climbing. Now I am preparing to rationalize the fleet, selling off the ones that I don't ride as often. I am actually considering whether to have just one bicycle, if there were one bicycle that was adaptable to all the kinds of riding I do. Possibly the Surly Cross Check will be that. It's light enough to go fast, strong enough to survive hard riding on bad surfaces, and it'll take racks for carrying stuff and fenders for bad weather. If I could only take one bike with me, this would probably be it. Which reminds me... when I was 13, my only bike was black, with fenders, a rack, and a dynamo lighting set. I rode it everywhere. The Surly will be black with fenders, racks and a dynamo lighting set. I plan to ride it everywhere. Am I progressing or regressing? Maybe it's worse than that. Now I'm looking at tricycles.

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