In 2007 I assembled a Peugeot road bike from spare parts at the local bicycle co-op. I rode it three times.
I could give you excuses; tell you that the toe cages made me fumble and uncomfortable, or that my seat was too high and difficult to adjust, or I could say that the touchy stem-mounted shifter made it hard for me to shift and maneuver my bike at the same time. All of these things are true, but the main reason I only rode the bike three times is that I was afraid of the people I shared the road with. I was not comfortable enough on the bike to risk my life on the road with cars… And it took me a long time to admit that.
Over the years, I moved a couple of times and always hauled along my dusty Peugeot with its deflated tires and tape slowly deteriorating from the handlebars. I always said I would fix it up, but years passed and it sat in the corner collecting dust.
Then in December 2014, I met a handsome transportation-nerd and bike-lover who stole my heart. Among dates of puppet shows and transit tours, he told me that his secret mission was to get me back on my bike. He was convinced I would love it if I just gave it another shot. “But… the toe cages… the tires are deflated… the shifting…” I said. “So get another bike! One you are more comfortable on,” he told me.
Months later, I gave-in by way of a rusty hand-me-down from a friend’s backyard, and in the last three months I have rode that bike more than I ever thought I would; along the LA River and Ballona Creek, along Sunset to Echo Park and even on a group ride to Burbank. To my complete surprise, I love it! And it has given me an active thing to do with my boyfriend, making our dates healthier and giving me insight into something that he is passionate about.
I still have problems riding in traffic, particularly because my hand-me-down bike is damaged from sitting in the elements for several years, and though I have attempted to fix it multiple times, it seems to never quite shift properly and the lowest gears are off-limits. A new bike would allow me to focus on the road, hopefully making me more comfortable with riding in traffic and opening up a whole new world of transportation to me.
My old Peugeot is still on my balcony, and I still have hopes that maybe some day the toe cages and the stem shifter will not seem so daunting to me, but as for now I look forward to riding on a bike that is easier for me to use and will allow me to find some comfort on the streets. And it doesn’t hurt that I have found a handsome companion to ride by my side either.
Emily Olsen was the third place winner in our spring 2015 "Why I Need a New Bike Contest." For her talented efforts she took home an IZIP Ebike backpack full of bike related goodies.