But anyway, big news: I got a new bike! I shouldn't have really been trawling Craigslist's bike section, but I did and came upon a vintage three-speed Raleigh Sports at a price I could afford. After hemming and hawing for a few days, I finally realized that I couldn't not at least look into it, and shot the owner an email.
|Parks and Recreation: lessons for life.|
The bike lived in my old stomping ground of Towson, at one of the soulless apartment complexes that are so numerous in suburban Maryland. I was late to my appointment, because the road I had to take didn't have sidewalks and drivers in MD speed like hell so I was a nervous wreck. (In fact, the lack of sidewalks in a lot of places there is one of the reasons I decided to start cycling!) But once I got on the bike -- well, after me and the bike's owner went to a gas station to fill the tires -- everything felt a lot better.
I'd been wary of the steel-is-king mantra, believing it just to be a scam to sell expensive steel-frame bikes to suckers. But wow, it's true: steel is better on potholes, cracks, grates, and all the other road inconsistencies that you get in an average city. During the test ride, I deliberately rode it over some extremely shitty potholes, and ones that normally would have put my heart in my mouth were little more than gentle waves. On an aluminum frame, you feel everything, and while I don't dislike aluminum as much as other bike enthusiasts (sometimes you want to feel the road!), I can't deny that steel is in many ways superior for a city environment.
The bike is in seriously beautiful condition for its age. The blue paint isn't faded or patchy at all, looks like it just came out of a showroom. The only rust I see is a slight bit around the back fender which considering the bike is from 1973 is a goddamn miracle. I wonder if this thing was even ridden at all! The Brooks saddle isn't a "real" Brooks, i.e. leather, but it is super comfy and I don't plan on changing it. And while I'm not usually a person who notices or cares about little details on bikes, I admit to loving the lugged frame and little chromey details on the fenders. And that reflector on the back fender! Everything on this bike is adorable.
|So cute I could explode!|
So, yeah, buying this bike was pretty gratuitous but we all need to do something gratuitous for ourselves every so often. I smile every time I look at it, even when I'm not riding it. And I've already gotten a few compliments, which is something I care about even though it's sorta shallow. Basically, if you have a few Jacksons to spare, treat yourself to a vintage bike. It's still cheaper than a month of gas.
|A good view of the front. Hello there!|