I'm a firm believer in the power of material things to make me happy.
While other people volunteer at homeless shelters, go on pilgrimages to India, and spend more time with loved ones, I'm buying stuff!
Hey, works for me.
To offer up a few examples, Apple products make me way happier, as I've blogged about here and here. Ditto with my 2011 Mini Cooper S; as I predicted, it has made me super happy. And closer to the subject of this post, I'm happily addicted to a way-fun outdoor elliptical bike, the Streetstrider.
I can feel my pleasurable materialistic fever rising for a folding bike. Until a few days ago I had no idea that I needed one so badly. Today, I almost wore the Internet out researching them.
Angela Obery is one of the reasons.
She is the chief initiator of Salem Bike Boulevard Advocates (give them a Facebook "like"), which was formed recently to push for more bike-friendly streets in Salem, Oregon. I talked with Angela for quite a while by phone yesterday, as I wanted to learn more about her group.
One thing we both agreed on is that Salem sucks, by and large, when it comes to the sort of 8-80 biking that's promoted by Gil Penalosa and his 8-80 Cities project. (8-80 refers to making it safe and fun for anyone between those ages to bike and walk around town.)
I told Angela that I live in a rural part of Salem outside of the city limits.
I've rarely biked on Salem streets, choosing Minto Brown, Riverfront, and Wallace Marine Parks to ride in, because they have dedicated multiuse trails with no car traffic.
But after talking with Angela I thought, "I really should experience what its like to bike in Salem, if only to give me more reason to criticize the Mayor and City Council for not making biking/walking more of a priority."
That thought was almost immediately followed by, "I need to buy a bike!"
Yeah, I already have a bike. But it's a mountain bike that currently resides in a shed on the other side of the Cascades in central Oregon. I left it there last fall, as my wife and I have been doing all of our mountain biking when we visit a cabin we co-own in Camp Sherman.
And even if I brought the bike home, there would be a conflict between it and my Mini Cooper -- which has never had a bike rack attached to its adorable rear end.
A bit of Googling revealed that getting a regular bike into a 2-door Mini Cooper is damn tough, though not impossible. It can be done, apparently, by taking a wheel off, pushing the passenger seat all the way forward, and arranging the bicycle just so. Maybe.
Doing this didn't strike me as fun or practical. Especially compared to buying something! Like, a folding bike.
Firing up Google again soon showed me that most foldable bikes have small wheels. This, I figured, would make me look like a senior citizen BMX dude, out to do wheelies and other crazy shit.
Nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.
I enjoy both not acting my age, and looking like I don't act my age. However, reading more about foldable bikes, I saw that often they are criticized for not performing as well as regular bikes, in part because of the smaller wheels.
So I Googled on. Which brought me to an intriguing folding bike possibility, the Montague Boston 8. At first glance, it looked like a regular bike. With regular wheels. Which is true. It just folds.
I avidly watched a You Tube video of the bike in action, including being folded.
Sweet! I liked the internal 8-speed twist shifter, which is exactly like the one on my Streetstrider elliptical bike. Over the past 13 months I've only had to adjust it once, and that was super-easy.
And it sure looked like, when folded, it would easily fit into my Mini Cooper, even with both wheels on.
I began to picture my 66 year-old baby-boomer hipster-self pulling the Boston 8 out of the Mini after parking downtown and then wheeling around in Salem's mostly flat urban core, discovering both the joys and the fears of biking in this town.
Next, I looked into where I could buy one.
The Montague web site showed three places in Oregon, with only one a real bike shop. Fortunately, it appeared to be a 100% Portland Hipster Certified place, Joe Bike. Located on SE Cesar Chavez Blvd. at 39th Street, the Joe Bike web site emanated a pleasing Portlandia vibe.
I enjoyed the writing on their "Deals" page.
We have one green 54 cm Rallye complete on sale for $2299 as a singlespeed with belt drive. It was raced a total of one time by a bearded guy on our cyclocross team whose knee sidelined him for the season. That right there was a $700 race. The bike is in perfect condition. Can be converted to chain/geared in exchange for cold hard cash in our hands, slipped into our g-strings, or pretty much anywhere else around here.
...Wazee is what we call the ultimate urban bike–belt drive, Alfine 11, hydro disc brakes, steel frame and fork, Schwalbe tires, and an exhilerating full-body kind of ride experience that will make you glad you’re not Dutch, not dead, or both not Dutch and not dead. Oh, what a feeling!
...The Honey Badger looks sweet but actually does not give a shit what you aim it at. Honey Badger will chew it up, spit out, take selfies on the scattered remains of it, and then pick it up again and swallow it. Is that a bit much? No, actually it’s not.
...The new 2015 Raleigh Misceo 4.0 i8 is normally $1300, but we’re selling them for $1199. Just to be clear: This is a belt-drive, Alfine-8 city/light-trail bike with Shimano hydraulic disc brakes…for $1199. And, we’re upgrading the rubber to Schwalbe Marathon for free, for superior puncture protection. Only at Joe Bike. You better ride this like you stole it, because you pretty much will have.
Now, after reading about that Raleigh Misceo, it sounded pretty darn appealing -- even though I have no idea what "belt-drive" on a bike is like. (My previously-beloved Burgman 650 scooter had a belt drive, I recall.)
But the Raleigh won't fold! So screw it.
Joe from Joe Bike, who I assume is the Main Guy Joe, confirmed by email that they can special order a foldable Boston 8. I'm thinking about it. Seriously thinking...
Even though I'm happy now, I always can be happier.