Another "had to wait awhile, but got'er (partially) done" item off the check list. It's been more than a year since I last rode. When we made the move to Florida, we were short enough on moving tote space and our bikes were old and decrepit enough that it made sense to leave them at the curb where they could be claimed by new owners and hopefully refurbished an re-used.
Today we found good deals on two bikes -- one for Liam (he still prefers a 20-inch single speed; doesn't like tall bikes with derailleurs and such), one for me. Tamara and Daniel are still looking.
I broke in my inexpensive single-speed "cruiser" (exactly what I was looking for -- OK, not exactly, but I don't see inexpensive 3-speed "touring bikes" around any more) with a 6.x mile ride back to the house. No basket or rear rack, but I'll take care of that pretty soon. Pleasant ride, although I figure I'll be sore tomorrow. I'm not sure this budget bike would handle a Gainesville-to-San-Francisco trip or anything, but it seems solid enough for local errands and so forth.
This isn't just an exercise machine, although that's part of it. It's about three miles from home to the nearest grocery store (three miles west to a Sav-A-Lot, three miles east to a Publix). With a basket (probably a "milk crate" type box on a rear rack, actually), I can take up some household shopping slack. Or ride into town to do things, maybe hitch a ride back home with Tamara when she gets off work (note to self: Look for vehicle bike racks on Craigslist).
Gainesville and Alachua County are extremely bike-friendly. There's actual designated bike lane over much of the highway between town and my house, and where there's no bike lane, there's a parallel paved trail. Unlike some cities where I've seen a lot of "publicly funded" bicycle lanes and trails that don't seem to get used much, a significant portion of traffic here seems to be bicycles. Why? I can think of several reasons:
- It's a college town. Lots of students on bicycles, and it looks like most of the rest of them on motorized scooters. Oh, and lots and lots of pedestrian traffic. I get the feeling that a big portion of the population here live most of their daily lives within an easily walkable or bikeable radius.
- The vibe here is ... "green." That creeps some people out, but I'm down with it for the most part. Lots of solar homes. A local company goes from restaurant to restaurant collecting scraps for compost. Not with trucks; they have little trailers they pull behind their bicycles. So for some people, riding a bike is probably at least semi-ideological. Saw a family the other day -- mother father, three children of various ages -- tooling down the street on their bicycles together and it did not look like an "occasion." It looked like "this is how we roll, all or most of the time." They looked affluent. I bet they have a car. I bet it's a hybrid.
- The area itself is just fantastic for bikes -- good weather most of the year (I see a lot of motorcycles, too, btw) and the terrain is mostly flat, with gentle grades when there are altitude changes at all. My past bicycling experience is in the Ozarks hills and the St. Louis area. Long, at least moderately steep, grades and the weather ... well, let's not talk about the weather, OK?
So anyway, life is good. Got wheels.