Wednesday, July 23, 2008

On the Velocipede (or, with apologies, Zen and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance)

So I bought a used bike on Craigslist. My last bike was stolen when I was in 11th grade and I've been wanting a new one more and more in recent years. I could use the exercise, and I could use the activity to help with the doldrums of an isolated summer at home trying to make progress on my Master's thesis (more on that another time, maybe).

When I want to buy something, I research it to death. On Craigslist, my options are more limited, but I ended up buying a really good used hybrid bike I wouldn't otherwise be able to afford new. Of course, I also had to research to death a helmet, multi-tool set, mirror, bell, kickstand, lock, cyclometer, etc.

There's a hole-in-the-wall bike shop down the street from me where I went to pick up some parts. My experience corroborated the refutation of the fallacy of of of of of... HELP! I'M MIXING UP ACADEMIA AND MY BLOG!

Well, what I was trying to say was that some people believe that abundant options are an indicator of happiness, or freedom, or fresh breath or something. We talk about "Freedom of Choice" and about not being constrained by limited options. In America, one can choose to do or be anything they want! In actuality, people are easily overwhelmend by an abundance of choice, it causes anxiety, panic, and uncertainty (a source of anxiety).

So I realized that though Amazon might make available 218 types of bike lubricant, I can be much happier and at ease deciding between the two brands in my local bike shop (LBS). What's more, I can be out on my way that much sooner.

Using the awesome videos at bicycletutor.com (including one on "How to Choose the Right Lubricants" - I guess that guy would be the Lube Guru, helping anxious, confused, unhappy people make the right choice), I quickly learned my way around the morphology (uh-oh, it's happening again!) and maintenance of my bike. I got my hands dirty and felt like a real bike mechanic. So, I was ready to ride. Today, after the thunderstorms cleared up, I climbed in the saddle and took off to the Hudson River Greenway. Here's the round-trip route I took:


Now, early on I came to realize what starting off a ride in Washington Heights means- you better be sure your brakes work for the initial steep downhills, and that your knees and thighs don't give out on the return's uphills. Here's an elevation map of my trip:

I'm proud of myself, but also realized I have a lot yet to re-learn about biking.
Any suggestions for saddle-soreness? I'm hurtin!

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