A decent bicycle makes all the difference

I’ve always loved riding a bicycle, but I’ve never considered myself a bike person. You know, the kind of folks who spend as much money on their pedal-powered ride as they would on, say, a used car? Still, I own three bicycles.

I bought the first one—a turquoise blue, antique Western Flyer—about a decade ago at a garage sale. It’s cute, but the thing is a tough ride—heavy and only a single speed. It’s now in a storage unit. After the birth of my son a little over five years ago, I realized I needed something more practical. My husband did, too, and not knowing much about bicycles and on impulse while out shopping, we bought two familiar-brand bikes from a big-box store.

These days, I know better. That’s because I have a new ride—and it’s awesome.

What sealed the deal for me getting a legit bike was a visit from one of my best friends, a native Chicoan who lives in San Francisco. She brought hers to town and rode with such ease. She invited me to try it out, and I was sold.

I bought a similar model by the same maker from a downtown shop about six months ago, and I still marvel at how much more enjoyable it is to ride. Sure, it cost twice as much as the big-box bicycle. But it was worth it. For starters, it’s quiet. Instead of hearing a bunch of squeaking and creaking, the only sounds come from the world around me. It’s also lighter and smoother—overall, much easier to ride. Think about going from an old clunker car to buying a brand-new hybrid. It’s kind of like that.

It also fits me. The employees at the bike shop didn’t try to pressure me into what they had in stock. They adjusted the seat on the model I was interested in so I could take it out for a spin. But they didn’t bat an eye when I wanted to order one in powder blue—not the red I’d tested. When I went back to pick it up, it was already built and they readjusted things for me on the spot.

Speaking of life on two wheels, this week is CN&R’s ninth annual Bike Issue. And this year, we have some pretty exciting news to share on Chico’s expanding bike-friendly infrastructure and its standing as a bikeable community (see page 20). Hint: We’re inching closer to Davis—aka Bike City USA. In reality, we have a long way to go to truly compete with that valley town, but anything to improve biking locally is a good thing.

The Bike Issue is one of the special issues I dreamed up back when I was the paper’s special projects editor, and I’m happy that it’s kept rolling all these years. As you’ll see from reading the issue, we’re not lacking for subject matter.

I don’t want to jinx anything, but this week looks like spectacular biking weather—mid-70s to low 80s. That’s about perfect for the participants of this year’s Wildflower Century rides put on by Chico Velo. And thanks to the ample rain Mother Nature has given us this year, after so many seasons of drought, riders are likely to actually see a big showing of the plants for which the ride is named. Ride on!