Bicycle Shopping Trips

Last Friday

Because I want to determine whether I can incorporate bicycling into my life as something more than a recreational fitness activity but less, much less, than a religion, I decided Friday last to ride the Spanish bike to run errands.  I needed to go to the grocery store, the post office, Penney’s, and speak with a local business owner about a proposed May activity. 

I hooked up the bright, ancient Triplex panniers and rode down into Stepford.  It felt a lot like dressing up in a costume to go somewhere, which is an odd feeling.  The feeling was almost exactly like the first time I put on lycra cycling clothes; in fact, that’s what it still feels like a lot of the time suiting up for a comfortably long ride.  The practicality of the garments outweighs my self-consciousness, as does the fact that when I wear those clothes, I am completely invisible as an individual and can be identified only as Generic Male Cyclist.  Those panniers aren’t invisible, though.  Riding the bike with them in street clothes, helmet, cycling gloves, I become Generic Male Liberal-Looking Grungy-Looking Cyclist.  Still, as long as I’m not easily identifiable beyond that, I’m okay with it.

First to the grocery store, because I wasn’t planning to buy anything that needed to be kept cold and it was the furthest away in the direction of the post office.  Getting the stuff I’d bought into the panniers while balancing the bike was difficult because there was no bike rack at that store.  I put some of what I’d bought on one side and some on the other side, for balance.  At the post office, there was again no rack, so I leaned the Razesa up outside against the entrance, near the cigarette ashtray.  At JC Penney’s, there was again no bike rack, so I leaned the bike up at the entrance and went in.  I wasn’t really worried about anyone stealing the bike because where I live there aren’t many people who ride bikes for anything other than recreation, most people haven’t got bike racks on their cars in order to conveniently carry off bikes they opportunistically steal, and, anyway, bikes in public commercial spaces around here give off a strange vibe that says, “Unsafe,”  “Hippy,” “Driver’s License Revoked for Too Many DUI Arrests,” and other messages that keep the curious at a distance.

At Penney’s, I got a couple pair of cheap, knee-length shorts to replace a couple of pairs I’ve been wearing for the past six or seven years.  I’m a little too fat, now, to fit into them with total comfort at the waist, and they’re stained with paint, grease, grass, sweat, oil, and so forth.  Because I’m hopeful I’ll shed five pounds in the next six months, I won’t throw them out yet, though.  I put one pair of new shorts in one pannier and the other pair in the one on the other side of the bike’s rear wheel.  Balance was easier to achieve this time because I’d parked the bike nose-in resulting in rear-end stability, for some reason I am not interested in working out.  And then back toward the center of town to the local business where I was able to interest the owner in participating in an activity next month.  Here are a couple of pictures from Friday’s ride:


Last Wednesday

The children in my son’s Kindergarten class can earn a Smilefrom his teacher, drawn less horribly in their agendas than the rebus at left, each school day they behave well enough to receive no reprimands.   I’d promised my son that if he could make it five days, from Wednesday to Wednesday (because on Wednesdays they are released at 1:00 pm) with a smiley face each day, I’d take him to a larger city about 45 minutes distant where we could ride our bikes on the riverside greenway and visit a bicycle store.  So, that’s what we did last Wednesday. 

Bored, my son fell asleep in the car on the way, but awakened refreshed on arrival.  I took the Bridgestone and Seventy-Six’s red Huffy Rocket and we rode about three miles up and down the greenway, over some bridges, visited blue port-a-potties (there may be nor correct way to spell that), carrying on a conversation through the plastic walls as we used the toilets, threw bits of pretzel snacks to ducks who ignored them, saw people on an outing from a group home, saw a fresh-looking banana peel in the middle of the paved trail, then, about 50 yards further on, saw half a fresh-looking banana occupying the center of the trail.  We posited a toddler had discarded both items from a stroller not many minutes previously.  My son rode over the banana peel proving that it would not cause his bike to slip.  I was pleased he did not ride over the banana fragment, itself, when he came to it.

Then, we drove to the bike store.  My purpose in making the bike-store trip was to expose my son to cool kids bikes so that my promise to buy him a new bike when he learns to ride without training wheels will seem more real to him.  A motivational exercise, if you will.  Last Fall, he had got to the point where he could ride without the training wheels, but could not yet get started on his own or turn without crashing.  Then I got injured and by the time I was able to run around outside with him, my son had lost confidence and interest.  A few weeks ago, he asked me to put the training wheels back on, and he’s been riding like that since.

My son found a red Specialized bike he liked very well.  I need a pair of pedals and a pair of grips for the Bridgestone, but found nothing there I liked.  I did see again the red aluminum U.S. built 2005 Cannondale R900 that I took for a ride earlier this month.  The shop’s asking $900 for it, what they say they gave in trade on it, but that’s out of my recreational budget at present.  Here’re the bikes my son and I liked:


2 thoughts on “Bicycle Shopping Trips

  1. I recall I used to see them occasionally out in California, where I grew up, and in Portland, Ore., where I lived for a while. Here in Tennessee, I’ve only seen them in Chattanooga. Bicycling probably hasn’t caught on in most places as a perceived normal alternative means of transportation.

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