Friday, December 4, 2009

I has another new hobby

It's been a bit since I've picked up a new hobby. This time I was looking around a pawn shop and noticed a very nice Trek full suspension mountain bike (a Trek Liquid for those of you who know a thing or two about mountain bikes) in their usual gaggle of bikes. Expecting to see a $1000+ price tag I looked anyway. $129. Wow. Someone forgot a zero when they put the label on this bike. Anyway, I quickly snatched it up. The clerk commented on how the bike was labeled way too cheap and I thought for sure that he wasn't going to sell it to me. He didn't go past commenting about it, though, so off I went with my new bike.

So what made me think about looking at mountain bikes in the first place? Well, I grew up riding a lot. If I needed to go somewhere I'd get on my bike to get there. Riding my bike 10 or 15 miles to the next town for no real reason was common practice when I was younger. Then I joined the army, could afford a car and didn't even think about riding a bike again for years. A couple of years ago I picked up a cheapo department store bike. After one "good" ride (by good I mean more than around the block a couple of times) I brought it home and parked it. The seat kept falling down so I basically couldn't sit down while I pedaled. The brakes sucked. At one point I was riding down a hill and the brakes all but gave out. I almost didn't make the turn at the end of the trail. Considering that the trail was bordered by a concrete wall that led into a tunnel under a bridge at that point it wouldn't have ended well had I not made it. That ride really made me understand the importance of having a bike with quality components. Unfortunately, I wasn't ready to drop $500 on an "entry level" bike and I didn't know enough about them to trust buying a used one.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and I knew enough to know that the bike I was looking at should have been much more than what was on the price tag. I took it for a ride when I got home and I was instantly hooked. That led me to start doing a lot of research. I took the bike to a shop, had it tuned up and fixed a few things. Now it rides like a dream. I can't wait until the weather gets better so that I can take it out and really get it dirty. Walking isn't enough to keep me in decent shape, I hate running and going to the store is a chore so I'm glad that I've found something that I really like to do that will surely keep me active.

So what's all of this got to do with survival? Like all of my hobbies I can't help but ask myself if it could have an impact if the SHTF. There are the obvious health benefits. Biking is a great cardio workout and it helps a lot with endurance. So even if the world doesn't end it will still have a great impact on the rest of my life. If gas gets prohibitively expensive then you can always park the car and use the bike to get around locally. Get a decent rear rack and a backpack and you could use it for grocery runs. A good mountain bike can go places that no other vehicle can besides maybe a really aggressive dirt bike. You just have to be in good shape and have a lot of experience to get there. You also need to be on the back of a bike that can handle it. Just use quality components and keep everything adjusted right.

I've found it to be a really easy hobby to get into. It can also be cheap if you know how to buy. Don't feel guilty about bringing a bunch of parts into a bike shop and asking them to install them. They're going to charge you whether you bought them there or not. Do what you can yourself. It's not really worth it to buy all of the specialized tools, though, so eventually you're either going to end up in a bike shop or you're going to spend a lot of money. Learn how much stuff costs so that you can recognize a ridiculous deal when you see one. It's really easy to get good deals on this stuff if you shop around and know where to look.


Shy Wolf said...

Oh, yes- the bicycle is a great commuter, wouldn't do without mine. When I was working in the Twin CIties, I lived in a small burg about 20 miles away, rode every day on the old Ross racer. It seems strange, but there were days I could leave the house the same time as my roomies and get to work before they did-- cuz I didn't have to pay attention to all the red lights!
(Well, I was 'supposed' to, but you know us crazy bike riders...:D )

Goofy McWanker said...

I haven't owned a car in half a year and although the winters here in the Utah can get pretty treacherous, I still ride the bike to destinations within 5 miles of my home and supplement the longer trips with public transit.

Needless to say, this allows me to stay in relatively good shape and spend more $$ on my 'self-sufficiency supplies'.