High On Bike

A Bellinghamster On Wheels


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Biker Has a Bell

I Love My Bike Bell
One of the reasons I decided to get a mountain bike as opposed to a road bike is the fact that I want to stay off the roads as much as possible. Fortunately, with the trail system in our wonderful city I can eliminate a lot of road travel even when I’m commuting. When I had my road bike years ago, I quickly tired and became extremely wary of motorists who, to put it mildly, didn’t like to share the road. Then there were the complete wackos who considered it a sport to see how close they could drive by a cyclist without actually hitting them. They are probably the same people who enjoyed pulling the wings off of flies when they were kids. Seriously what is it about a bicycle that makes people lose their minds?
I remember having a conversation not terribly long ago with a woman who told me she “hated…absolutely hated” cyclists. When I asked her why she told me she felt they weren’t entitled to share the road (despite laws dictating otherwise) because they weren’t licensed and therefore weren’t paying their fair share of taxes. “I’m paying for the road and they’re not,” she said anger punctuating every word, “so they don’t belong there and they deserve it if they get side swiped or hit.” I can’t even repeat what she said about cyclists who blow through stop signs or lights. (If you’re a cyclist who does this, you don’t help the cause one bit.) There were so many kinds of wrong with her way of thinking that all I could do was walk away. She’s definitely on the bat guano insane end of the spectrum, but anti-bicycle sentiment can be rather innocuous as well.
Just the other day, on my second ride with my new bike, I was on the trail at the same time a “Girls on the Run” race was finishing up. There were a lot of young people on the trail and so I slowed down accordingly. About 50 yards ahead of me were a group of kids and an adult woman heading my way taking up the entire width of the trail. There was no way they didn’t see me. As I got closer, I shouted that I was hanging to the right but nobody budged. I slowed down to a crawl. This time I shouted, “Excuse me,” but even though they were looking right at me, I had to stop as the kids milled around me taking their sweet time moving on. As the throng cleared out, I pushed off only to hear a snide, condescending, “Biker needs a bell” from the adult. Really? Yes, I know they had the right of way and I acted accordingly.  I also made darn sure I was polite and accommodating throughout the convergence. Fortunately, this little altercation was an aberration. Trail users here in Bellingham are normally quite civilized, friendly, and respectful of each other.
Biker has her bell now and she plans to use it. Ching-ching!


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Bike!

Giant Talon 29er

Not letting any grass grow under my feet, I came home with a bike yesterday. I didn’t imagine that it would happen so quickly. I was perfectly prepared to go to every bike shop in town and try out every bike under the sun. As it happened, I struck gold at the first shop, Jack’s, after just three test rides. (Jack’s is a fabulous shop by the way. The folks there were awesome!) To be honest and to give credit where it is due, Ira, our in house researcher, did some preliminary web searching and suggested we try Jack’s first. He wanted me try out the Kona Mahuna and Splice, both mountain bikes. I’ll be spending a lot of time on our local trail system, only going on roads when necessary, so I need a bike that will be both comfortable and able to deal adequately trail conditions. Ira liked the fact that they had a 29″ wheel. So I tried the Mahuna and liked it a lot. Then I tried a comparable Giant, which I also liked a lot. Then Rhonda, one of the shop’s owners, brought out a Giant Talon 29er, a higher end model that also has a 29″ wheel. I took it outside and spent several minutes smiling and laughing. I knew it was “my” bike. Then just to be sure I tried a hybrid but I already knew that my heart belonged to my white and blue Talon.
After a few minor adjustments including raising the stem and leveling out the seat, I rode my new bike out of the shop and headed home, taking a somewhat circuitous route that included both road and trails. The mountain bike is an entirely different experience than my old road bike and I absolutely love it. The 29″ wheels makes for a taller, more comfortable ride over a variety of terrains. I certainly can’t go as fast but I didn’t expect to. What surprised me, though, was how much easier it was to get up the significant hills I have to navigate to get home. It is a workout to be sure. My shakedown ride was so awesome that I think I giggled the entire way. I didn’t realize until yesterday how much I missed being on a bike. It certainly has chased away the blues about not being able to run. I can’t wait to take it out again today.