Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Immersion in the Northwest -- Buying a Bike!

Since there are several places that I need to go from time to time that are within the mile or two range, I figured I would fully immerse myself in the culture of Portland and buy a bike!  Bicycling Magazine recently reported Portland, OR as the #1 Bike-Friendly City, so there are plenty of reasons to get one and start getting back into shape.  My goal was to get a lightweight bike, sized for me, for these daily quick trips to the department store or local restaurants on the road, but still have the option to take it on trails or eventually work my way up to a longer drive, maybe across the bridge to Oregon.

I looked up a few different highly-rated bike shops, but was ultimately persuaded to go to Camas Bike & Sport in Camas.  It was the closest, was highly rated by the reviews on the Internet, and was open on Sunday...the perfect combination!

When I arrived, I was given some time to look around before I was approached and asked if I needed help. The bikes themselves were priced starting at about $500 and going up to over $2000.  That was a little more than I was looking to spend, so I took a time out to look up prices online, and found that they weren't high...just that my expectations were off.

At exactly the right time, I was approached and offered help.  We went through the different options available, and basically settled on a hybrid bike, which gives me the ability to make some changes to the shocks, etc., depending on whether I was onroad or offroad, but still give me the options to do either.  I also decided I wanted to try one with the disc brake system instead of the rim brake...just for the technology.

With those requirements, there were only a few selections available.  Once we sized me, they really only had one bike that would work.  I took it for a test drive, we made some adjustments to the seat and handlebars, added some lights and accessories (like a rack to carry it home and a helmet), and then I got training on all the features of the bike (quick releases, how to shift, etc.).  I worked with two different people at shop, both very helpful.

The shop itself sponsors several rides at local area parks to help people get accustomed to their bikes and allow them to ask questions about the hobby, and they encouraged all customers who came in to attend.  While that isn't likely something I would do, I thought it was a nice touch.  They also offer free tune-ups for life on the bikes (recommended twice a year, but they can accommodate emergency adjustments, as well).  All in all, it was a very positive experience.

My new bike

When I got home, I decided to try it out right away!  After adjusting my helmet, etc, I took it out and found the bike parking at the local Target and the nearest one to the Qdoba -- the two places that I see myself biking to most frequently.  As expected, they were bike-friendly locations, so there should be no problems with getting back and forth between them -- except for my own fitness level, that is.  After just a three and a half mile bike ride, my knees were getting sore, and I lost my land legs.  I'll need to make some more seat adjustments, as well, for the longer rides.  It is definitely going to take some getting used to, but it should be good for me and for the environment!

If you have any tips or recommendations to get me started, please leave them in the comments.  I've had bikes before, but never really learned some of the complexities of riding on the road.  I'm a quick learner, though, as I've spent more time on this bike than I did in the 10 years of ownership of my last bike (granted, that isn't saying much).

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