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This is my sporty(for me) 2009 Jamis Coda before I added more than half it’s cost over again in accessories. Pardon the terrible picture taken in my office the day I brought it back from the shop but didn’t dare ride it home without a helmet.
This is the same bike six days later, with the addition of new tires, lights, rack, fenders, bell and computer. Not shown: the rear-mount kickstand I had lying around. I will totally bore you with gushing about a few of these items in the near future.

The fine folks at Baltimore Bicycle Works hooked me up with my bike and every accessory I ordered in three days flat.  I walked in, ordered everything like a nerd who’d be thinking about it for nearly three months (which was the case) on a Tuesday, and I walked out with it all Friday morning.  Fast!  Not only did I not have to wait a week or more and pay shipping to order all the stuff I wanted online, but I actually got fantastic deals.  You’re never going to find Cascadia fenders for less than $39 (and if you do,  you buy ’em!), especially not without paying shipping.

This is strange.  I resisted the internet for a long time and never even sent an email until the very very end of my junior year in college in 2000.  I used a typewriter for most of my undergraduate years.  Seriously.  But now we assume the only way to get that hard-to-find lightset or fenders in a specific color (my pal ordered silver) is to order everything online, wait at least a week and pay like $10 over the $5 we saved by buying online in the first place.  When my seat/post got stolen in early Decemeber, I ordered replacements online (BBW wasn’t open yet then) and waited, bikeless, for a week, and the shipping was almost as expensive as one of the parts.

One of my brake pads put the first gall in my rear rim on my way to work this morning.  I pulled the metal chip out of the pad, went for coffee and was annoyed.  (DAMN YOU, TEKTRO!)  I was kicking myself for not getting Kool-Stops right away.  I am moderately ashamed to admit that my first instinct after I had some coffee was to look online and order two sets from Amazon or something like that.  WFT?  I corrected myself, called my LBS and tacked two sets of brake pads onto their mid-week order.  Sweet!  It’s much more fun to deal with a real person (and a nice person on top of that) than a computer.  Simple.

But why have we gotten to the point where one needs to point this out?


[Apologies for the cross-post!]
Yesterday, I took a [hybrid!] bus to work, with my floor pump in my backpack, my helmet in a box on my lap and my rear-mount kickstand. I put the stand on at lunch and was shaking with excitement and nervousness all day at the idea of getting to ride again. I mean, my last ride didn’t go so well. My wife had to work late, so we had dinner at the delicious Cafe’ Mocha near Penn Station after work, and then I set off to North Baltimore! I stopped by my parents’ house in Hampden to show off the new ride to my folks, my brother and my aunt and uncle — and to have a cream soda.
Then I rode home, up Roland Avenue. At one intersection, I was behind another cyclist at the red light, and there was another gent coming from the opposite way — and it wasn’t even close to rush hour anymore. Being out of commission all spring and early summer, I missed the increase in ridership. The gentleman in front of me ran a red light I didn’t want to run after a block or two, so we parted ways. I rode around Evergreen, through Stony Run Park and back home, not really wanting to stop. I came home, took off my sweaty shirt and had some water with lemon in the lazer-etched bike pint glass I got for Valentine’s Day this year and watched “The Simpsons.”

Sweet first ride. Chromoly steel rides like a freakin dream, but I kept hearing something bell-like when I hit bumps. I think the rear brake cable was banging the toptube because the little rubber things weren’t on right (my fault). That steel literally rings. But it also could have been the dangerous thing I found when I got home. When I was installing my front fenders last week, I forgot to check that the stays were tightened at the dropout eyelets. Holy shit, that could have been disastrous! Also completely my fault.

Rode to work this morning with the Mrs. — our first joint commute. I was completely drenched with sweat when I got here, and I wasn’t cycling hard this morning at all. I have to go back to a shoulder bag and away from my backpack. Thank God for the baby wipes and extra shirt I keep in my desk. I was a mess.

But I’m sitting here with my helmet on the AC vent, my new tires dirty and my bike begging me for 5:00. I am very happy.

As  you can imagine, shopping for that all-important next bike has been eating up a lot of my time and consciousness over the last [nearly] nine weeks.  I bought a Novara and returned it after getting Mr. Foot crushed by that lady who thought watching where she was driving was a stupid idea.  Plus, as I mentioned, I was less than impressed with the service at the store/location I won’t name.

Last time I bought a bike on purpose, it was 2006.  Needless to say, “commuter bike” was only emerging in faint whispers as a bike category.  And hell, no one ever mentioned mounts for racks and fenders as a feature of a bike back then! I bought that bike, a Giant Cypress DX, in 2006 from a local chain, and I was happy with the job they did putting it together.  Really happy.  Two thousand miles under my fat ass, speeding all over Baltimore’s broken streets, and the rims were true when I crashed, and I think they did a nice job adjusting everything else before they sent me on my way.  Which was good, considering I was too afraid to adjust brakes back then. That didn’t last long, but still.

Now, there are bikes with internal hubs, fenders or room for better fenders, steel frames, upright riding frames, etc.  It’s dizzying.  I won’t waste your afternoon (because you know you’ll look them all up) listing all of the bikes that have featured as my replacement bike of the day. I think I’m driving my poor wife and cycling buddies crazy with my bike ranting. “Holy shit, dude! You should see the specs on the bike I looked up today during my lunch hour!”

Really, you start seeing a lot of the same stuff.  Heavy shocks, with lock-out becoming a feature of the higher-end models.  Eyelets to mount all kinds of stuff, with clearance for fenders.  Double-walled rims and decent tires.  Better seats and riser bars as far as the eye can see. Every time I found a bike I liked, I would find three others just like it for around the same price from different manufacturers.

Then it comes down to where to actually buy your bike. Do I go back to the store I was unhappy with when they are the only place around town to get a few of the bikes I like?  Do I go to a shop that I have never liked because they sell a certain Trek I find alluring? Or some place with a good reputation that is all the way across town from where I live and work? I know where I want to buy my bike. They only carry a few brands, but within those brands, I see some bikes I really like and some I just plain drool over. I miss having an LBS, as I’ve mentioned. I’m looking forward to getting a new bike and shopping and building it up with nice accessories.

Dan said that buying a bike from a national chain didn’t “seem like [me],” which I take as a compliment. He said he thought I’d go local or get a sweet used bike. With some of the used bikes I’ve seen at the LBS I mentioned, hell, I might just do both.

I keep remembering how disappointing it can be when you get a new bike whose specs you love and that you love when you saw it the first time, only to see it poorly assembled and beaten up before you even get to ride it — no matter how good of a deal it is.

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