What to do, where to go, the path to ride...

in #bikinglast year

I've posted twice recently on bike riding and my path forward trying to get back into riding more, and considering what to do about upgrading my bike and electrifying it. I've not really posted much about those plans. I'm hoping to cover that with this post.

First of all, I decided to take today off. I asked someone if they wanted to go ride with me, and they said no, so I used that as an excuse to skip the day. Honestly, that was probably a good idea, since I'm kind of sore, and mostly in the bad way.

To be honest, my ass hurts.

The seat on my bike really sucks, and I don't have any suspension on it. I've been meaning to actually upgrade to a suspension fork...but that's not exactly cheap. It pretty much costs the price that normal people pay for a new bike.

I could just buy a new bike...but I picked the one I got for reasons, and it would take quite a bit of effort to find one that fit me as well as it, and I would have to likely continue to ride this bike while building a second, or just saving up.

There are a lot of things I dislike about my bike as well...but for riding to and from places, and even cruising pretty fucking fast, it's pretty damn good. It's pretty fun leisurely passing people on road bikes while I leisurely pedal. It's slow for a lot of people, but I actually have legs like trees, and can easily get it up to speed.

So, I like my bike, I just don't like a few choices they made with the setup. Quite a few choices actually. Keeping the paint nice is my primary limiting factor currently, as the warranty has likely lapsed, and keeping with the style. Some nice black suspension forks might not look too bad on it though, and would definitely feel a lot better, especially when dropping off a few inches. Would also likely make it a bit easier to ride once I electrify it.

But that's not cheap.

Sore from my ride, today I spent a bit of time looking at choices if I were to maybe replace the handlebars...and I found a few interesting options...and a few overpriced slightly bent metal tubes. But I don't really need new handlebars. Mine needed to be tightened, and they might have a bit of wear and tear, but I doubt they're trash. I do need to sand them and repaint them black though, as they do have a bit of rust. I'll consider getting some new ones when I have more spare cash.

But as the sun set and the darkness crept in, I found my shopping cart full of things...eventually some things that caused me to delete a few others.

I'd like a drink holder for my handlebars. I don't have a water bottle mount and it sucks. How the fuck am I supposed to drink something while on a long ride unless I awkwardly carry it in a bag strapped to my handlebars...which apparently is one of the top options for handlebar drink holders. Who knew? I may or may not be just considering sewing my own and ordering some insulating fabric or getting something at a second hand shop.

I need a bike oriented multi-tool. I also need to steal back my multi-tool with a crescent wrench from my Dad.

I'd like something to hold my phone, so I can use it like a GPS. I'd prefer if it weren't something that caused it to fall out and break and make me cry.

I also need a pump I can take with me that doesn't suck. Unfortunately, it seems that the current trend in portable bicycle pumps is pretty damn expensive, or cheap as fuck, or somewhere in between, with cheaply made but expensive.

Those things I can probably easily manage. Finding a seat that may hurt my ass on top of all that might actually be possible as well. But the options don't feel very welcoming with the whole corona pandemic scare and certain people in my life that have made things a bit difficult.

Then there's the thing that after those massive roots almost bucked me into a lack of existence I really want, suspension forks.

The ones I probably should get to be the best non-insane option are like $250 plus shipping. Not insane levels for bikes, but enough to make most people balk. A little less than half the cost of my bike when it was new.

Thank god I didn't buy a mountain bike, cuz some of the youtubers make $1000 bikes sound like entry level.

There are a few options as to what to get though, and I could probably manage some of the cheaper options without much to worry, and I really want to.

Of course, I still won't have a mountain bike. It will just be a bit more capable of taking a bit of rough terrain. Perhaps be equivalent of a heavy as fuck entry level mountain bike, without being Walmart level.

Then there's the matter of electrifying my bike...

The motor and controller will run me about $120, and the adapter to drive my wheel from that will be another $30. Then I'll need to figure out what I need to do to possibly tension and guide and protect the chain. And that's not even including batteries. The batteries will likely be another hundred.

So I'm basically talking about doubling the price of my bike to get something I can ride a lot more easier.

Frankly, after yesterday, I kinda feel like my bike is barely rideable. I can take it to the store. I can go on any road or sidewalk easily and get past 20 mph pretty easily. But I can't really take it on trails through the wood super easily, which are pretty fun. I don't want to go mountain biking with it...not too much anyway...but I do want to feel like I'm not so limited.

This all started with a scare where I thought someone had stolen my bike.

After I gave the person less shit than they deserve for taking it, it became acutely aware to me that I needed to fix up my bike and make it so it was a lot more easily rideable in the area that I'm in.

That means new heavier gears, so I can get to higher speeds. That means electrifying it so I can get out of dangerous situations easier and keep up with traffic when I can and hopefully not get run over. And that means, eventually, putting front suspension on it.

But after yesterday...I'm starting to think maybe I need to do that front suspension a lot sooner than I thought.

$500 isn't chump change for me though. I wish it was easier to get good jobs lately and I could just throw that down without thinking about it. Part of that is my fault. I could be trying harder to get out there and do shit. Part of it's out of my control.

After I decided that I needed to start getting my bike set up to ride easier though, I started reading a bit and looking up videos on how to do certain things. Like replacing your rear cassette, or replacing your chain ring, which I'm pretty sure are both on my list. Then I found myself watching more and more videos on biking, and in particular, mountain biking. Despite biking more on roads and sidewalks regularly, mountain biking or trail riding is just way more fun. I don't really wanna hit crazy trails at speed and be launched up into the air...but I have actually started considering building a small track to ride around my house, and what I might be able to get away with doing to trails in the woods.

They'd probably be a bit too nosy about someone pulling in a load of wood on their bike and using some power tools, even if I do build an AC outlet onto my bike. But maybe moving a log a bit or occasionally trimming some branches wouldn't be so bad. Might even be a good thing.

Definitely will get away with more on the home turf. Just gotta make it look natural and non-suspect for those nosy neighbors.

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time in the woods. I build forts and rode my bike all over. I never had a full suspension mountain bike, but thankfully I never had a Walmart bike either. I definitely destroyed my fair share of bikes anyway. Never gotten one stolen though. Not yet anyway. Bought some nice beefy locks a few times to ensure that, and made sure to lock up both wheels and make it a pain in the ass, while trying to keep an eye on it when I could.

Watching youtubers hit the trails and try some amazing tricks woke up a part of me that I had kinda forgotten about. I'm not a downhill mountain biker. I'm not a BMXer and never really had any interest in being one. It scared the shit out of me. I don't really wanna take crazy jumps. Maybe a few small ones. But, I'm pretty sure I've always been a trail rider. I've always gone for big beefy bikes, and still forced them up over curbs and intentionally aimed my wheels towards obstacles to hop over.

So that part of me wanted to go see what kind of trails there are in my area. Maybe not mountain bike trails with jumps and such...but trails.

That's not an easy task though.

I might have a nature preserve within easy biking distance, but there's not much more than that that's not quite a trek.

That nature preserve might be a really good thing though, in a way, as it's pretty good training for my muscles. It has a few places where you have to hop your bike up, or maybe even over a log to get through a lesser used trail. It also has sand and muck that will stop you in your tracks. I'm pretty sure that's due to the maintainers that are currently running on next to no funding from what I'm told, so I guess I shouldn't judge them too harshly for only occasionally mowing and not really cutting back much of the brush. But I'll also have to maybe start carrying my banana saw with me, if I can find it.

The plan is to go riding in that nature preserve regularly, if my bike can take it, while occasionally buying parts to upgrade my bike and electrify it, and building up my strength and confidence until I can ride to farther and farther away trails.

There's a park maybe a mile away that has some exercise stuff. Not much of interest other than that. I've been thinking maybe I'll start trying to ride over there every other day and trying to use a few bits to get more in shape. Maybe build myself back up to be able to do a few pull-ups.

There are a few more parks a few miles away that may or may not have anything really to ride my bike on. From the pictures online I sussed out which ones could maybe be of interest, and put them on a list. I'll try to work my way up to going to each of them, until I can train myself to more easily go to the ones that are farther, and be a bit less scared of the horrid traffic in the area. Don't wanna get myself killed.

Right now, I'm pretty sure I could easily ride a few miles, more or less, give or take a soaked shirt. But I'd like to be sure that I can easily ride to and from the different places, as well as figure out which ones are worth riding to. The easiest way to do that is to just ride to them.

I'm considering maybe getting someone to drive me to maybe one or two long ass trails far away...but that may or may not be just a PITA. There's a really long one that's not super far away from me that I want to see, but it's next to impossible to get to safely. Not sure. I think I could probably ride there now, but I'd be completely worn out by the time I got there and was done with the ride through the trail, and then I'd have to ride back. And the whole ride there would be on really sketch roads with scary traffic. Really tragic, since it wouldn't be that hard to get to if there was just a bridge over a small river not too far from me.

But there it is. My path forward, through a lot of dollar bills, and over a lot of miles. Wish me luck.

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Image by Jason Cerna (source)
Used under CC0 Public Domain License