My mom rocks. She and I have been bantering for a couple years about me getting a bicycle. I’m a rollerblader by nature (7.2 miles in the city in 40 minutes, thank you) and I loved living in LakeView because I could take the train or bus to the office and then rollerblade home. When I lived downtown, I did it to-and-fro, but the further out I move, the harder it is.
Rollerblades are great for up to 5 miles commuting, I’ve found. But they have serious limitations with the weather. If it’s not dry, you don’t rollerblade. Period. I’ve wiped out more times than I care to count trying to, and I just don’t do it anymore. From the time I moved to Chicago (1997) until just this last summer, I rollerbladed all over. Everywhere. All summer long. I loved it. Around 2005, my father and my mother both started making veiled comments about biking. My aunt Susan is a huge biker fanatic (she and Uncle John have ass-kicking bikes and go all around the hills where they live) and she would always comment on how city people do bikes more than rollerblades. Finally I broke down and when my mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday (2008) I said ‘I think I want a bicycle.’
Negotiations began and after looking at regular bikes, hybrids, mountain and recumbent, I finally struck on the idea that what I need is one I can bring on the train. If I was in Europe or Asia, this wouldn’t be the case. Bike theft, while common there, is a little easier to combat than in annoying car-centric US. And I live in the Rogers Park area of Chicago. Were I to park my bike at the train station (1.8 miles from home), it would be at the Rogers Park stop. Anyone who lives in the area knows that the Alderman who governs that part of town is just terrible. Bike theft from that stop is horrendous. I saw my options as being a beater bike or … or … a folding bike.
Three people on my train (two guys, one girl) ride folding bikes and bring them on the train. The girl and one guy have Dahons, and the other guy has a BikeFriday. I struck up conversations with them, casually, about biking and the foldability. Eventually I slipped into a local shop and poked around at the bikes, tested a couple, and realized that the Dahon was what I liked best. It felt more put together than the BikeFriday, it was upper/mid-range, and it looked cool. I mean, hi, it’s bright red and was immediately named ‘Scream Latifah’ by my significant person.
The bike came via FedEx (it was out of stock locally) and it’s the 2008 Dahon Curve D3, bright freakin’ red and a very solid bike. It doesn’t have the bag, so I’m making a run to a local shop that said they had the bag for the 16″ wheels. I did a very short test run in the apartment, and then the weather, which had been a lovely 60 two days before, tanked to 10. No photos, because I was dressed in possibly the LEAST flattering shirt I own. Seriously, it made me look like I have Shatner’s Star Trek paunch from season 3! It’s a snug across the chest shirt that is very warm, but it hangs weird. And yeah, I know I need to loose about 5 pounds, but that shirt made me look like it was 15!
I’m not ready for biking in winter. Yet. My goal is to get bike-strong by doing my 2-miles twice-a-day for a couple months and, if my knee likes it, rock on through to November. Frankly, with the terrible way my streets are plowed and shoveled (i.e. not at all), I suspect I won’t be biking much from Thanksgiving to Purim (or St. Patty’s Day, if you don’t know when Purim is). That’s about three months of not-biking, and since I should be able to ice skate on some of those days, I may be able to keep in shape after all!
Speaking of St. Patty… I am going to try to show up for the Southside parade on Sunday, to cheer on my buddy Margie. And yes, I plan on bringing my bike.