Thursday, July 29, 2010

My folding bike - not so comfy but great against coyotes

(I posted essentially the same version of this story in today's Folding Bike section of Bike Forums - enjoy!)

So today I got my Schwinn Hinge Folding Bike back from the bike shop (Metropolis Bikes in North Hollywood), where I'd left it for a tune-up, and was pleased to find that they'd not only done a thorough job of checking it over, they also installed a metal bottle cage on the handlebars, free of charge - thanks guys & gals!

I drove it a few miles to Valhalla Memorial Park, a totally cool cemetery with great views of both the Burbank Airport and the Amtrak/Metrolink train station. It's also the perfect place for out-of-shape folks like me to exercise - because there are NO HILLS! Yes, it's totally flat! And bonus - since it was a hot day, the sprinklers were going; making it the perfect place to test-ride my newly restored folding bike!

I took it out of the trunk and unfolded it. The hinges have always been a little clunky to use and they still are, but the Metropolis guys put some oil/lube on them so they worked as well as they're ever going to work. Once I got it set up, I adjusted the seat, put my feet on the pedals, and started to ride ...

... when what to my wondering eyes did appear but a COYOTE - yes, a real live coyote! - headed straight for me!!

Well, I was a little nervous but what that coyote didn't know was that I'd spent a hectic morning chasing a pack of wild Chihuahuas away from my yard at home, and figured, hey, a dog is a dog, right? I'd gotten rid of the evil dogs by running towards them at full speed, yelling and waving a stick, which did the job quite nicely (also works for Jehovah's Witnesses btw ).

Anyway, so back at the cemetery, I figured I'd just do the same thing. Rather than turn wheel and run, I pedaled harder, directly TOWARDS him, shouting, "Bad dog! Bad dog!" That was all it took - he turned around and ran (followed closely by one of the cemetery groundskeepers, who'd been keeping a close eye on the situation from his tractor a few feet away).

All in all, I was quite pleased with my Schwinn Folding Bike's performance. Sure, the seat is still a little uncomfortable and it's a little hard to pedal. But it keeps the coyotes away, which is pretty much all I ask of any bike, folding or non-folding.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Obsession, or Why I Haven't Blogged for Two Weeks

Yeah, sorry about that. I tend to go on autopilot sometimes, and just can't stand doing any heavy thinking, much less writing, for days at a time.

I know I should be blogging more ... one of my commenters a couple of posts back said I should post every day.

Yeah, okay. Hmm. I don't think so! I have enough trouble hitting this thing once a week!

But in case you're interested, I do have some interesting stuff going on.

a) I've gotten into biking. Again. See, I have this tendency to get really excited about a subject, hobby, activity, religion (or lack thereof) for a while, till I reach the pinnacle of success with it. Then I get bored and move onto something else.

So two years ago, I got really into the idea of getting a bike. I wound up buying THREE bikes in a row:
  1. a Schwinn Explorer from the local bike shop, which turned out to be too big for me, so I never rode it.
  2. an Electra Townie, which was way more comfortable for me, but still, I never rode it.
  3. a Schwinn Hinge Folding Bike, which I ordered from Amazon, thinking, hey, a folding bike! I'll take it with me in the car and ride it whenever I see a nice bike path! Sure! Yeah! I never rode it.
I salvaged the Explorer with a bike trainer, which basically turns the whole bike into a stationary bike. Steve and I used it for a while, till we got tired of it.

The Townie sat in the garage, being wheeled out occasionally to keep it from rusting and to keep me from feeling guilty for spending so much $$ on it.

The folding bike I gave to my mother-in-law, who thought a friend of hers might want it.

But earlier this year, Steve and I made a trip to Kansas City to visit my Grandpa, and made a side trip to Sedalia, Missouri, where I'd spent a very happy three years as a teenager. While there, I showed Steve the places I used to go on my bike, and we were BOTH amazed to find out how far, and how confidently, I'd ridden.

Why had I stopped? Well, I'd gotten older, gotten a car, and gotten fat, pretty much in that order!

So when we got home, I thought about it, and thought about it, and then thought about it some more.

Then I wheeled the Townie out of the garage, pumped air into the tires, plopped my old helmet on my head and (deep breath) went for a ride around the block.

It actually felt ... not too shabby! So I started riding it more and more - not long distances (yet) but have gotten to the point where I can go to the Reseda Post Office and back, without a major amount of sweat.

And not only that, but one evening Steve's mother-in-law casually disclosed that she still had the folding bike, didn't want it anymore, and would I like it back? I said sure!

It, too, had flat tires, and I decided to take it to Metropolis Bikes, a bike shop I'd visited a few times, in North Hollywood, California, for a total tune-up.

It'll be ready for pickup tomorrow. I'll let you know next week how it rides.