If there are two things I love, they’re food and words. If there are three things I love, delivering on promises probably makes it in.
I did it friends, I finally bought a bike.
Every year in Toronto it’s the same cycle (no pun intended, honestly [really? -Ed]). I’ll trudge through the winter muck, and think about a time where I could be speeding through the streets of Toronto, taking shortcuts and doing sweet jumps. I tell myself this year. This year I’ll finally get a bike. I could get around the city so quickly, keep fit, stop paying exorbitant amounts for a metro pass each month. Spring transitions to Summer, and I feel like I’ve lost my chance. It’s too late, I should’ve bought one already. If I get it in Fall, I hardly get to use it at all. So I tell myself next year. Next year I’ll finally get a bike.
I got my goddamn bike. His name is Grimsby and I love him.
I’ve been loosely planning to go shopping with my friend for a while. He’s been a bike mechanic off and on for years. Loves bikes. Bikes everywhere. He knows what to look for in a bike, all the factors to consider when buying one. He knows the places to go, he has connections and understands the parts intimately. Yesterday we finally made it happen. I told him that my overall budget was around $500. I met him at this place on Spadina. He said they find really good second hand bikes and do them up. Very fair prices, and quality materials. He’d traded/worked with them on and off for the past decade. When I arrived, he’d already picked one out for me to look at. He said it was around $300. He told me about the frame, and how lightweight it was. He compared it with another $700 bike and said they were virtually identical, aside from one or two small details that could be fixed up. He checked the height and shape of the bike against my stature. We tested how much leg extension I’d get, whether I could stand up straight on the bike if I was stopped at a light. It looked to be a decent fit. He checked the wheel alignment and tinkered around a little. He said he wasn’t gonna send me out on a bike that he didn’t think was 100% safe. He went out for a ride and came back a few minutes later, tinkered a little more and adjusted various things. He showed me the gear system, which was unusual. It was this little toggle on the right side of the frame, not far from where my knee would rise up. He passed the bike to me, and I whipped around the block. It was great to be on a bike again. I wasn’t wild about the handlebars, a little more narrow than I was looking for. The bike weighed almost nothing, but I tend to prefer heavier bikes. Makes me feel settled on the road. I didn’t change the gears, but I tested how it’d feel to use that toggle. It was odd, I kind of had to hunch over. I didn’t like it. I brought the bike back to the shop and said it was okay, but failed the Marie Kondo test.
The owner popped up beside us and asked what I didn’t like about the bike. I said I was looking for something heavier. I liked the idea of gears, and would’ve preferred something on the handlebars. He pointed out a bike off to his right. Big purple thing. The owner walked away and let us talk. My friend took a closer look. He asked how much it was, the owner said $500. My friend checked whether or not I’d be okay going over budget. I said I’d consider it. He peered closer at the bike. There was a gears system on the handlebars. Eight speed. He glanced at the gear system, then looked back. He checked the breaks. “Drum brakes” he said, as if I knew what that meant. He turned to me and whispered “these wheels are worth more than that last bike”. We measured the bike up to see if I liked the feel. It was a very comfy bike, and the height was much better than the last one. Heavy bike, which I was looking for. It had a rack over the back seat, to which I’d be able to affix a basket or something. The handlebars were wide, and I could ride in a relaxed position. He did some checks, then took it out on the road. He came back and passed it to me. I sat on and started pedalling. It felt like I’d owned the bike for years. I tried some curb jumps, messed around with the gears a bunch. It was perfect. I brought it back and told him what I liked, and what I thought could use some work. He chatted with the owner, who said the price was a flat $500. My friend told me a little about bike theft, how common it was to get wheels and seats stolen. He said there were options. I could get multiple locks, a solid one for the back, and a lighter one for the front. He also mentioned a pinhead system, which would make it extremely difficult for thieves to take your wheel on the fly. The store had one, the owner said they were $70. My friend haggled a bit, and asked how low he could go if I bought the bike. He got him down to $50, then saw a pinhead package that included seat security. Seatcurity? He asked the owner if $60 would be appropriate? The owner grabbed a bell and a few lights, said he’d throw them in for me. Cash only. I went to the bank and withdrew $500 (my max daily limit) and combined it with the $65 I had in my wallet. I had $5 cash left for the rest of the day.
We walked out, and my friend said the bike was worth about $1000.
We biked around, picked up a helmet, and I zipped off home. I blinked, and I was basically there. It took maybe 15 minutes for a ride that’d usually be 30.
Holy shit. It feels good to deliver on a promise.