Hello, bike. My name is Emily. What’s yours?

“Just call me AWESOME.”

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To keep with the 30DOB challenge, I’ll go back to day one:

The first time I met the new bike was the morning of April 1st in Seattle, Washington. I’d just spent the previous day at comic-con and the previous week and a half fantasizing about the bike I found on craigslist (this bike), so my spirits were pretty high. I tried to keep my feelings moderate because it was possible that I would hate the bike after I test rode it or that it would fall apart within thirty minutes of ownership (I’m looking at you, Free Spirit I picked up in Oregon), but overall I was pretty excited.

When the previous owner brought the bike out I loved the looks of it immediately. Online it looked white with black tubing and decals, but seeing it in person revealed that it was actually cream and royal blue with a green-and-black headbadge. I’ve wanted to find a mixte frame bike for a while now and it was just as beautiful in person as I had anticipated; I love how graceful the overall look is. Some of the decals are scratched (you can see that the “o” is missing from “austro” in the photo there), but since it is a vintage bike I don’t mind it at all. In fact, anyone who’s asked me about cars knows that while flashy cars are pretty I really prefer beat-up old junkers, because I feel they have more character. While this bike is far from beat up, I like that it shows some wear and tear; I think it’s fitting that an old bike would look used.

After introductions came the test ride, during which I nearly fell flat on my face.

Okay, okay, so I’m not the most graceful person even on my best days, but there were two things about this bike that made the first ride feel completely different: first is a combination of the frame actually being my size and a sportier geometry, and second is the presence of friction shifters. The frame differences meant that my toes barely touch the ground when I’m sitting on the seat (with the frame tilted a bit) so getting on the bike wasn’t so much just sitting down as a nervous leap into the saddle followed by a sudden, violent battle with gravity. And then…those friction shifters. I had heard of them before but didn’t realize this bike had them until I saw it, and when the lady I bought it from assumed I knew how to work them I was too shy to correct her. This led to me nearly losing control when I tried to shift (the chain came off for a moment)…but at least I was a block away when it happened, so she didn’t see.

That first spin around the block was wonderful, near-misses of faceplanting aside. As I mentioned before I own a mountain bike and a hybrid, and this bike felt very different immediately. It felt more like I was gliding across the pavement rather than rolling, and it felt very sturdy/strong, but without any sensation of heaviness.

After that my friend Logan and I spent a considerable amount of time trying to fit the bike into my car (the previous owner’s boyfriend even came out and offered to help and we had to explain that all the boxes and bags in my car were costume materials. Yep. We’re nerds. Live long and prosper.), but in the end we got Newbike to fit, and she spent the next five hours in first-class trunk space on the road back to Moscow. Every time I looked in my rear view mirror and saw the bike I smiled.

April 2

Lesson learned: get to know a new bike before you attempt to race [late] to class with it. Your attempt will be unsuccessful, and you will miss class.

I ended up backing out of riding the Newbike to class because I didn’t feel like I’d gotten the hang of how tall it was to successfully stop at a red light and be able to get going again. I took it around the block to try and figure the shifters out but I live on a hill, so either I was going downhill and had no need to pedal/shift, or I was headed uphill and I didn’t want to mess with the shifting when I was putting so much pressure on the pedals. Also the shifters are in a weird place on the bike, at least for me. They’re on the headtube, meaning that I have to take a hand off the bars to shift. Personally I find it difficult to bike with just one hand on the handlebars. While I’ve gotten comfortable doing it with straight handlebars like those on my mountain bike, I find it difficult to keep the bike steady when they’re swept-back handlebars like Newbike has (also, Newbike is crazy responsive to any little movement). In addition I understand you have to kind of go easy on friction shifters — that is, you can’t just flip the switch into a new gear, you have to slowly ease it into a new position and feel the gear catch.

So, I regretfully put Newbike back in the garage, and rode my mountain bike to campus instead. If it counts, though, I spent all day daydreaming about it.

I don’t want this to be a gigantic post, so I’ll leave off here for now. I’ll post tomorrow about my first real ride today. Also, maybe I’ll spend some time tomorrow taking photos. I was too busy riding it to get out my camera today!

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