I had thought about getting a bike for years when I finally purchased one a couple of years ago. My enthusiasm for the purchase was renewed by going on a long bike ride with friends (on a borrowed bike) along the beach on a path that took us from the industrial southern end at Dockweiler Beach to the beautiful Ports at Marina Del Rey. Riding a bike along the beach path is the ultimate California dream, and the warm spring day on which we completed the round trip inspired me to plan my purchase for sometime in the near future. I like walking (when it's not my ONLY mode of transportation), and being outside, but I also needed a form of non-weight bearing exercise since I had completely hosed my knees and lower back in separate incidents. Even after I started doing research, asking friends for recommendations, and doing multiple internet searches looking for the perfect bicycle, it still took me a couple of years to purchase one. Where money is concerned, I always at least TRY to be careful with large purchase, although I don't always succeed. Money was part of it, but there are always other considerations.
First and foremost, where was I going to put it? Although at the time I was still sharing a garage with a neighbor, the key was missing somewhere in our house, and I had yet to receive another key. My daughter's bike was in the garage, and we could only get it when the neighbor went into the garage, which was inconvenient for my daughter because that meant she could only ride her bike when we got lucky enough to catch the neighbor. I wanted to ride for exercise, which meant riding on a regular basis, not on whims. If I was riding on a regular basis, when exactly was I going to do that? There were some weeks when both my and the kids church activities ate whatever time I had after I left work, and weekends tend to live on busy.
Even with all of my concerns, I found my bike, the white beach cruiser above, within the price range I was looking for from a re-seller on Craigslist, made the purchase, found some strange way to cram the bike into my then small car, and brought it home. I then spent a little more money with the bike shop a few blocks away making adjustments and repairs to the bike so that I could ride it without being in pain. Then I sat there and stared at it for a few month, riding only occasionally. Being a big woman, I was entirely intimidated by the thought of long street rides where people could actually, you know, SEE me. That was a horror that had to be avoided at all costs. No matter what your confidence level, having strange people yell rude things at you while you are trying to get healthy is... disconcerting at best, and completely demoralizing at worst.
That changed one Saturday morning when I decided that, rather than waste gas driving to a meeting that was only a few miles away, I would ride my bike there. I would be riding early enough (and the route obscure enough) to not make me seriously noticeable, and the route I chose also took me around any heavy traffic (a particular talent in Los Angeles). As I rode along side a small regional airport at the longest stretch of the ride, and I realized that it didn't matter what other people might think of what I looked like riding. I was taking care of my health, at my own pace, and I got to look around and enjoy myself in the process. It was a beautiful day outside, and I amazed the other ladies at the meeting by riding my bike there. I rode home completely uplifted both by the meeting, and by accomplishing something I had wanted to do for quite sometime. I came home planning longer rides, and thinking of purchasing a bike rack for my car so that my daughter and I could take our bikes to the beach, and she and I could ride on bike trails, completely undisturbed by cars, and with more than enough room for both us and walkers. I had my ticket to ride, finally, and my ability to do so was only hampered by time and finances.
I put off the rack purchase for quite some time because life dictates that business be taken care of first. Bills before extras, needs before wants, etc. I would take longer rides when I could, and I allowed my son to use my bike, as he didn't have one, and it was quicker for him to get to school with it. Our deal was that so long as he locked it up and took care of it, I had no issue with him using it. And our deal held for six months, until he forgot to lock the bike to the railing outside my sitter's house one Friday evening, and the bike was stolen.
Earlier this year, I gave my son the money to purchase another bike for himself. I have a car, and I didn't really need it to get around like he does. I walk around Downtown LA on my lunch breaks when I get the chance. But it's not the same. I honestly miss my bike. I watch travel shows on tv, and see them taking lovely bike tours of other countries, and secretly long for my lost cruiser. I drive along the beach, I see the bike trails, and I remember that warm spring day only a couple of years ago when I rode them, and I wish. I wish to be back out there on two wheels, zipping along beach side, or planning a trip to see a City by bicycle.
One day, when I get caught up on bills (Song of the Single Parent!), there will be another bike. Followed by the purchase of a bike rack so that my whole little family can go ride on the beach. Then an actual vacation with a bicycle tour. It'll happen. Not immediately, as there are always other priorities, but I look at it this way. Now not only do I have a specific goal to work towards, I have something to look forward to once I hit the goal. Works for me.