Friday, September 10, 2010

What Is a Girl to Ride?

Starting this weekend, we will be staying on Cape Cod for a bit, like last summer. It is not a vacation in the classic sense since we will still be working, but it will be a welcome change of scenery - and of course there will be time to cycle.

It was only decided for certain that we will go last night, and now I have a day to get ready. While for many women, I imagine the most pressing question would be what clothing to pack, for me that is pretty much settled. Our photo equipment and props are also ready to go. But what is a girl to ride? Now, that is another matter!

I could take Graham.  Pros: He can handle the hilly, long distance rides we plan and has an excellent lighting system for those pitch-black country roads.  Cons: A roadbike is not the best idea for in-town cycling (we are staying in Provincetown), plus I would be so nervous to leave him locked up at a bike rack!

I could take the brand new (yet unnamed) mixte. Pros: I can ride her both in the town and in the country, and I know she is comfortable.  Cons: We have not installed the lights yet, and are waiting for a part that may or may not arrive today. And I would be just as nervous to leave her locked up in town as the Rivendell.

Or, I could take Seymour Blueskies. Pros: He would be fast on those hilly roads, and I would not worry about leaving him locked up on a bike rack in town.  Cons: he does not have dynamo lighting, is not quite as comfortable as the other two options on super-long rides, and, as a roadbike would not be ideal for in-town cycling.

Taking one of the vintage 3-speeds is out of the question, because they would not be able to handle the substantial hills of the outer Cape, so the three bikes above are my options. Since this will be home away from home for a while, ideally I would have two bikes: one for in-town and another for long-distance hilly rides - but that is not realistic. Whichever I take, adapting to a one-bike lifestyle for a bit should be interesting!

38 comments:

  1. it seems to me that the mixte is the closest to an "all rounder" type of bike, suitable for all the types of cycling you plan to do on the cape. even thought you don't have the lighting installed on it, you can always just throw on some battery lights in the interim.

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  2. Personally I would be inclined to take the Trek, concerned about damage and theft. This would of course be a mistake. What is the point of spending all kinds of money on a custom bike the colour of the moody seas, meant for exactly this sort of trip, and then leaving it behind ? Life is short, live for the day. Take the mixte indoors overnight and when having tea or coffee at a charming cafe, sit beside it, admiring the colour (just make sure to pack a few woolly jumpers since you might be eating al fresco even in the chilly evenings). And perhaps bring a few extra locks...small price to pay to enjoy the new bike.

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  3. Ahh the Cape, where I grew up! And good ol' P-town (many miles away from where I grew up on Cape)... take the Trek for the very real concerns about security... and watch out for the sand and quick turns on the Provincelands bike paths! They are a dangerous combo.

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  4. Now that is a dilemma! I would lean toward the mixte, but those cons are pretty valid. The good thing is that you're picking from 3 really great options, so I don't think you'll lose either way.

    But staying at the Cape? Sounds pretty heavenly. What a lovely opportunity.

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  5. Is theft a big thing on the Cape? On the Vineyard there is essentially no bike theft and people leave their bikes lying around unlocked. The Cape is a world away, I guess. What do you do in Boston -- lock only inside? Or is theft not such a big deal there?

    I would take the mixte and, if you're worried, a serious u lock plus steel cable combo.

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  6. Velouria could take the mixte and temporarily install the front Graham light... for the rear a small led light that you have...
    This is the best opportunity to try it.

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  7. david...no the other one!September 10, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    Grace, the mixte, should go. Forget about having "lights", go down to the "dollar store" or whatever you call it there, and buy some glow sticks. Yes I know its ecogarbage, but ther're bright and cheap. People know that a person is there and you can have the sig other in front, or ride by the light of the moon. Or is that "dance"(on bicycles).

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  8. interesting comments about theft. it wouldn't even occur to me to not bring a bike somewhere out of theft concerns. is theft worse in p-town than in our area? if i were overly concerned about theft, i would just make sure i double-lock it with decent locks: one good U-lock or hardened chain lock to a rack, and a second cable lock securing the wheels and frame together (and to a rack if possible). MDI can also lock his bike to yours, creating a triple lock.

    if you want to borrow extra locks, i have a bunch of heavy duty locks i could lend out.

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  9. oh, and another thought on theft: i've been lucky enough that i've never had a bike stolen in this area, but based on other people i know who've had bikes stolen, there doesn't seem to be any correlation with caliber or cost of bike and the risk of being stolen. crap bikes are stolen as much as high-end bikes, based on the experience of people i know (one friend of mine had a $150 wal-mart bike stolen!). so, i don't know if there really is a greater chance that the mixte or sam hillborne would be stolen over the trek. but, i can see how if the mixte or sam were stolen, you'd be out a much larger chunk of cash. have you added your bikes to your renter's policy?

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  10. I know that I invite the gods to punish me for my hubris every time that I say this, but I ride my ANT Club Racer everywhere (including the Cape) and have never had a problem with bike theft. I've had bikes stolen in the past, but those were all in very obviously vulnerable situations (ie. same bike locked up in the same place for extended periods, one lock and/or relatively fragile anchor points)

    So, I don't let bike theft discourage me from riding the bikes that I love wherever I want to ride them. I just take extra precautions to make my bike a little harder to steal than my neighbors. If it were me, I would take Graham (and an extra cable lock along with the Ulock). But it's not me, so with that said, I think that mixte is a fine choice if it will put your mind at ease. So long as you aren't planning on doing an overnight ride then you could get a battery light to see by (and re use that battery light for your other non-dynamo driven bikes). The Cateye EL530 might be worth considering. If the Co-Habitant will
    be riding a bike with a dynamo setup, then having a strong light to see by on your bike is a little less necessary.

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  11. Life is short: take the mixte and take along two locks. Use a Kryptonite Evolution to lock the frame and front wheel to an immobile object, and then use your cable to secure the back wheel.

    I work at MassArt on Huntington Avenue, a kind of hot spot for bicycle thieves, and I use this system. A Boston cop told me that most bicycle thieves are drug addicts trying to find money for their next fix. They'll take the bike that's easy to steal, rather than one that will cost them time and a possible painful withdrawal.

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  12. anne: that's exactly where my friend's $150 wal-mart bike got stolen.

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  13. Re bike security in Provincetown: While PTown is a very safe place, it is also extremely crowded and gets rowdy in the evenings. People get drunk and walk up and down the main street in groups by night; by day it's hordes of tourists with dogs and baby carriages and beach chairs. The bicycle racks are overflowing with bikes, most positioned carelessly and knocking against each other. So I am less worried about theft per se than about unintentional, or careless damage to the paint or lights. There is almost nowhere to leave a bike in the town center where it would not be in danger of being scraped by another bike or accidentally kicked and knocked over. Last year we took our vintage Motobecanes and couldn't care less. And we did leave our saddlebags on the bikes without incident.

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  14. My guess is that vandalism/carelessness will be your biggest threat. In any event, both the Rivendell and the Royal H. are so specialized and rarified that I can't imagine the average bike thief ever having heard of them. They'd more likely take the Specialized Rockhopper you're parked next to!

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  15. Yeah I mostly worry about things like Honjo fenders getting destroyed, paint scratched, something falling or being dragged past the bike. Stuff like that. Most bikes I see in P town are fenderless BSOs and old MTBs, mixed with some old cruisers. I see the same stuff in other beach towns.

    People are of course well-meaning, but not used to treating bikes (and bikes belonging to others) in an extra careful way.

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  16. slightly off-topic, but on the maiden voyage of my pristine porteur conversion, some careless hack managed to completely buckle my front honjo fender while locked to a bike rack. i'm guessing his quick-release skewer snagged my fender and he just kept yanking his bike to free it. i was shocked and even had thoughts of dropping another $90 to replace the set (can't buy just one), but in the end i just bent it back as best i could, and now there's just a small scar from where the fender folded on itself. the bike had been christened, and it doesn't bother me now. since then the fenders have accumulated additional scars and scratches, and it just adds to the character of a well-loved and ridden bike.

    so if vandalism/carelessness were the major concern, then the trek with its existing patina and indestructible SKS fenders would be my first choice.

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  17. Re the idea of "not being deterred from riding good bicycles, because otherwise what is the point of getting them"... I mostly agree with this.

    Last year I took the vintage mixte I used to own for our 2-week stay on the Cape. While being safe to lock up, that bike beat me up so badly on hilly long distance rides that I was unable to cycle every day as I had planned to do. It looked nice in pictures and was zippy on shorter rides, but I would have gotten a lot more cycling out of the trip last year had I owned a bike like the Rivendell. I know for a fact that I can cycle 40-50 miles on the Rivendell day after day, because I have done it.

    Lights were also a problem last year. On bikes without dynamo lighting, we like to use powerful CatEyes on the front and back. But this was not sufficient for my comfort on pitch black roads that wound alongside cliffs. So if I do take the Trek, I will probably gather all the battery-operated headlights I own from my other bikes and cover it with them for cycling at night.

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  18. I'm not entirely certain this will be helpful, and it is, of course, merely an opinion, but I know that this summer, when we went on our camping/biking tour, I was EXTREMELY paranoid about taking the "nice bike" on the trip, so I went the evening before we were leaving in a complete panic, and bought a $100 bicycle (though it wasn't bad and actually worked well - I just wasn't as comfy as I would've been on my bike) off of Craigslist because I was so entirely crazed about the idea of someone scratching my paint or stealing the bike. In retrospect, I should've just taken the bike I was comfortable using. While I know that the paranoia isn't entirely in my head, and that there is the possibility that someone could steal the bike or that it could be damaged, the reality is that over time this will happen anyway (well, hopefully not the theft part, but probably some small damage to the paint, scratches, etc). Personally, I would prefer not to have bicycles that I'm afraid to take with me and ride, and while I want them to stay pretty, and know the cost involved with replacing them, I realize that I can't live in a bubble and protect them from everything out there. I'd much rather be able to ride what I like/want, in comfort, and if I have to take an extra lock, I'm okay with that too. Sometimes when we have things that we've worked so hard for, and invested so much in (both money-wise and time-wise), I think it's difficult to let go of the idea of keeping them in pristine condition. At some point though, cars get scratched, clothes wear out, and unfortunately, bicycles will get scuffs and scratches.

    I think taking whichever bicycle makes the most sense to you in all your adventures for the time you're residing at the Cape should be the one you take along. Try not to stress yourself out about the many possible scenarios that COULD happen. Live in the moment and enjoy one of the beautiful bikes at your disposal. :o) I do think taking one with lights is probably the best idea though, unless, as has been suggested, you can borrow the lights from one and put it on the one you'd prefer to take along.

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  19. take the new bike!!! hope and pray you will find kind-hearted souls who will let you bring the bike indoors or onto porches, and really enjoy the gorgeous piece of artwork-engineering you have pined over for so long...

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  20. I really appreciate what G.E. wrote. I'd just take Graham and stop worrying.

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  21. Take the bike most appropriate for the conditions that you will be confortable riding and along with that a Kryptonite U-lock and Kryptonite cable.

    Leave no easily removable items when locked up. Securely, lock the bike with both locks where the bike is visible in those circumstances where you have to leave the bike. Take the bike in at night.

    I always use a sturdy Kryptonite U-lock and cable.

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  22. First, whats a BSO? I hope it's not something so patantly obvious that asking will reveal me as the complete poseur that I might really be. But I'm sorta' fixating...I can't even think of anything rude or off-color that it might be...

    On the subject of what bike to take, I think you should take whatever bike you pictured yourself riding when you daydreamed about going. For most of us that means the best bike we've got. Here's one reason why, I know guys with all sorts of cool vintage sports cars,Jaguars, Porsches,a couple of Ferraris, a 55'300SL Mercedes and one or two 60s Maseratis. The few who actually drive them and make em' work for a living have the best stories, the healthiest attitudes about them and seem to really enjoy them.

    The ones who just pay people to polish them, trailer them everywhere and stand around talking about how much they are worth don't look like they're having much fun(not that you do anything like that with your bikes, but you get the point).They also talk crap about the cars they actually drive(which are still so far beyond what I can afford that it makes me sick(jealous?... yeah)). Anyway, the bikes I've had stolen were mostly grabbed from where I lived when I was away...selfishly cheating with other bikes...

    Spindizzy

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  23. BSO stands for "bike shaped object". It's a term some people use to describe bikes that are so badly made that they are practically non-functional.

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  24. On one hand, I'd say to take your new mixte. It would ride best in all of the situations you describe, and it will feel festive to have your new custom bike with you.

    On the other hand, I'd say to bring Seymour and extra lights. You won't worry about him getting dinged up. Plus, I somehow get the sense that he won't be as much a part of your future as Graham and the mixte will be.

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  25. Wow, cape cod! I am lucky to live in a rural area and barely lock my bike-but bike theft happens. My surly just looks so unassuming compared to the high end road bikes that get stolen, so maybe nobody cares. I'd take the mixte or rivendell and hope all goes well. You could also cover the decals and headbadge. I guess having an all purpose beater bike is a good idea, but then why have such lovely bikes if you can't ride them? Summer is over anyway, so it should be quiet except for Friday nights now right?

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  26. I spent a week meandering inn-to-inn from Plymouth to Provincetown this August. I rode my Rivendell Atlantis, parked indoors at night, and took a U-lock for meal and sightseeing stops. No problems.

    While I was in Provincetown, I just left my bike in my hotel room and walked around town. I wouldn't lock a nice bike to those bike racks crowded with rented beach cruisers. And you can't ride at faster than a walking pace on downtown Commercial street anyway.

    Have a great trip!

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  27. I vote for Seymour. It's only for 2 weeks and you'll enjoy your time there more not worrying about the mixte or Graham. BTW, you mention lighting for dark country roads. Do you have any suggestions for lights that are bright enough to actually SEE the road at night with? This will be my first year riding home from work in the dark, and while the Cateye lights I have are good at making me visible in the dark, they do nothing to help me see whats on the road.

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  28. Toss a coin.
    Or rent a beach cruiser.
    Or, even better, sell those bikes, they're driving you nuts.
    And get a Harley.

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  29. I'd go with the Trek, with the addition of a $35 headlight and a cheap red blinkie from Wal Mart on the back. I commuted for a year with a setup like that, and it worked well. It'd take about a week for the headlight to get dim enough to be nerve-wracking, and the tail light is still on the original batteries that I installed two years ago. BTW, I run both of them in solid-state beams and had a commute that took about 30 minutes.

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  30. Amy - The thing to do is to install 2 headlights, and point one straight ahead and the other down at the road. Have you tried that?

    phillippe - done!

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  31. That mixte looks like a Sylvia

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  32. In the book history world, BSO stands for 'book shaped object'. Like one of those books with the pages cut out in the exact shape to store a gun, or a whiskey bottle, or what have you.

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  33. Regardless of what bike you end up taking you are probably going to have such a marvelous time that we'll all be sick hearing about it. Today I was daydreaming about doing something similar after reading this post last evening and it makes me want to go spend a few days spinning around somewhere quiet and beautiful.

    Have a great time, ride your bikes and eat well, drink well and tell us all about it.

    Spindizzy

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  34. Thanks for the suggestion! No, I hadn't tried that yet. Does mounting the lights low on the bike (closer to the road) help as well?

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