So we just blew a wad of dough on new bikes and we’re pretty excited about it. We definitely are doing our part to keep the economy going. The kicker is: this was an unplanned expense. We never discussed it prior to walking into Eric the Bikeman’s shop in Burnsville. I’ve been avoiding Erik’s for years knowing that if I went in there, I’d end up with a new bike. Every time I go to Byerly’s I parked on the far side of the parking lot so I wouldn’t be tempted to look inside the bike store. The real temptation though is when I’m at Pilgrim dry cleaners. Every time I walk towards the Cleaners, the automatic door at Erik’s would sense me and open up as if the store was providing me a personal invitation to just step in and have a look around.
But I’ve been strong, really strong. Never gave in to the magic store door. Well, I’ve been strong until Sunday.
I was pumping air into Lisa’s bike tire and I overfilled it. BAM! I blew the inner tube. So on the Sunday “list of stores to visit” alongside Target and the Valley Co-op was “Erik’s”. Ruh-roh. I promised myself we’d just drop off the bike for a repair and leave.
Well, we dropped off the bike and I gazed into the store and there they were! I stared at hundreds of cool new bikes hanging from the ceiling.
It was like Joseph and Potifer’s wife, David and Bathesheba, Sampson and Delilah, Adam and the apple. The bikes were calling my name. Look at al the cool bikes. And there was Lisa (Eve) by my side saying, “Do you want to look around?”
“I uh, really honey, don’t we need to get going?” She looked at me like I was speaking some foreign language, she says to me, “It’s okay, we have time, why? Well, we don’t have to if you don’t want to.”
Ummm, no it’s opposite of that babe. I WANT to.
So there I was half way down one of the aisles staring at all the models. Now I don’t know a THING about bikes. I like to ride, but I haven’t had a new bike since I was in 7th grade. And now there’s a huge industry that offers bike types for every manner of riding, it’s just like everything else these days. You can’t just buy a bike. You have to think about how you want to ride, where you want to ride, what you want to get out of your ride. There are features galore on frames, tires, handle bars, pedals, shoes, clothing, and on it goes. You’re not just going to buy a bike, you’re making a choice to invest a bunch of money into a whole new arena of “stuff”.
What happened to the days when I was a kid and you just jumped on your bike and ran around the neighborhood at breakneck speeds without a helmet? Just wearing your shorts and a dirty tee shirt and the evening didn’t finish until 9:30 when the sun was finally down. Summer evenings were endless and the biggest options on your bike were a banana seat covered in Cracker Jack stickers.
Today, you have to find a helmet in the right colors that match your new bike gear. Padded spandex shorts (I wear them under my regular shorts….I’m not going to be seen in spandex in front of my neighbors), dry-fit athletic shirts, special shoes that lock onto your pedals, LED flashing lights, wireless speed/odo-meters, bottle holders that match your bike, and bottles with different squirt options.
So there I was staring at the bikes and Rob the Bicycle Consultant (not kidding, I called him a salesman and he got ticked and corrected me). “I, sir, am a Bicycle Consultant.” Got it. Thanks. “Can I help you?”
“Um, yeah. You sure got a lot of bikes here,” I said, looking like a real dum-dum. “Yes sir, that’s what we do here at Eriks,” he responded as he eyed me up. In retrospect I believe he was thinking, “I can sell this guy just about anything!”
In short order he ran me through the list of questions that I’m sure every Erik’s Bicycle Consultant is told to memorize. These questions are designed to narrow in on what type of bicycle rider you’d be so they can lead you into the aisle that has bikes suited to your needs.
“What kind of riding do you like to do?”
“Where do you like to ride?”
“What do you want to get out of riding?”
“What kind of bike do you have now?”
“What do you like about your bike?”
“What don’t you like about your bike?”
“What would you change or keep on your bike?”
“Do you like riding on dirt or pavement?”
“Are you going to bike with any friends?”
“What kind of riding do your friends do?”
Within minutes he was showing me a cool looking model. “It’s on sale today, the Bike Jam is on,” he said.
Just hook me and reel me in. “Really, how much?” I asked.
I tried to put on an air that said, “Oh, yeah, $480…uh huh. Is that good?”
Rob responded, “Well our MSRP is $520.”
Okay, it’s not a smokin’ hot sale price, but hey, $40 is better than nothing. I was already rationalizing.
Then Rob the Bicycle Consultant turns and looks at Lisa and says, “What kind of bike do you have?” and pretty soon we’re looking at the ladies version of the bike he just showed me. $ 480. Uh-huh. Can you see where this is going?
So Lisa’s bike that’s getting repaired is a “Comfort bike.” That means it’s not speedy, it isn’t meant to ride long distances. You sit upright and hold the handlebars and look like pictures of people from the 1920’s riding bikes with fancy clothes and men in derby hats. It’s what you’d buy if you were a young family and just wanted to cruise slowly around the lake or park with your kids in tow. In other words, it didn’t fit the bill based on how we answered the 20 questions. Rob was showing us “Road bikes.” These are a hybrid type that compromise between mountain bikes and racers. For an introduction, look at the Wiki page for Bicycle Types.
Well, within 30 minutes, Rob was cranking out an estimate on the bikes and all the accessories for two of us. I told him we hadn’t planned on this expense and needed the afternoon to think about it.
We returned 30 minutes before store closing to confirm our purchase that includes a new bike rack that fits on the back of my Rav4 (20% off Yakima products – $143).
Let the adventures begin. We’re going to sign up for the Night Owl Classic Bike Ride in August. Maybe we’ll see you there on your new bike?!