City Cycling

2006-06-02 10:19 - General

Back in September, the company I work for got a new (their first real) office. It ended up being located all the way on the west side of Manhattan island. The closest subway stop is 3 avenues away, most of a mile. And for the train that I take, I have to go about a mile and a half crosstown. I gave all the options I could come up with a try, various transfers to other subway trains, riding the bus, different stops, express trains, and so on. Nothing is really all that much faster. It takes me about 90 minutes to travel between home and the office. I've always wanted to speed that up.

A few months ago, I got a cheap scooter from eBay. I figured wheels would be a good way to speed up the long walk across town. Long story short, that didn't really work. I thought about roller skates, but putting them on and off is too much to be worth it. A skateboard might be better, but I just don't have the coordination. The small fold up scooter was small enough to carry with me on the subway, but it was too small honestly, and didn't coast for crap, was more physical effort to ride it than to walk. And it didn't save much time, so it was out.

I always knew a bike would be a great fast way to get where I was going. But I can't take a bike on the subway every day, during rush hour. I could technically, it's not against any law or regulation. But it does take being a prick, to take up all that space every day. So I more or less gave up.

But a few weeks ago, the bug bit me again, I decided to try something. Ended up deciding, I'll buy a bike anyways. I'll just leave it locked up, there are plenty of bikes locked up here and there in the city, what's the worst that can happen? So I lurked on craigslist for a good while, trying to find a bike that I could ride, but would be cheap enough that I wouldn't be too angry if it did end up stolen. I came real close a few times, but somehow the deal fell through before I could complete it. Ended up deciding it probably wasn't worth it. But then one Saturday afternoon, I was bored and looked, and I saw a listing offering a whole bunch of bikes, from $30 to $0! I figured this time, I can just go, and I'll get something, out of a dozen or so to choose from.

So the next morning I woke up early, looking to get a lock. I didn't do so hot, not much was open early Sunday morning. So, I set out a bit earlier than I planned, and went out of my way to the Home Depot, and finally found something workable. Looked around at the chains and padlocks and so on. Their chain, though, is cut for you when you get it. So, how much theft protection could that be, I wondered. I ended up getting a cable lock that was cheap, and I figured good enough for a while.

The posting said the bikes would be on sale from 12 noon until 2 PM. With my detour, I ended up getting there at 12:04 PM. And as I walked up, I saw someone else walk off, with the bike I most wanted. Darn. So I turn around, and someone else walks off with another of the ridable bikes. Then I look back and forth, and see that's it. Nothing left is a ridable men's bike. Drat! All that time back and forth on the subway for nothing.

Now I'm really unhappy with the whole bike idea, and I'd drop it completely. Except, not much but now I'm in for that lock. I end up checking the listings again, and I see what looks like a pretty nice mountain bike. Full suspension. Described as only been ridden a scant few times. Sixty five bucks. More than I was planning to spend, but now I'm more determined, because of the situation. And it seems nice.

This one, I got. I had to tune the brakes a bit, but managed to ride it away. I locked it up around the corner from the subway station I get off at, heading to work. This was about 8 PM Sunday night. Monday morning, I've brought along some better tools, and I re-tweak the brakes. They used to squeak horribly, and now they're better. But the shifters are still a bit weird. They work, but not well.

Monday comes and goes, with me riding to and from work. As I've described, the experience has some issues here and there, but it's seeming good overall so far, just some tweaks and tune ups. Tuesday morning: no bike. Stolen already, it seems. I knew I was cheaping out with that lock. But now, I know just how much I was cheaping out. C'est la vie.

So, the whole bike to work idea is more or less dead at this point. Once the week is finished though, up comes Memorial Day three-day-weekend. I head home to my Mom's house for the weekend. It turns out she's having a big yard sale/free-4-all event. And what do you know, but an old bike is sitting there to be given away. Long story short, between that and my old mountain bike in the basement, I manage to assemble one working bike, and revive the idea.

After coming back into New York on Monday, we go to a local bike shop, and I pick up the big mean New York Chain lock. More or less the toughest, most expensive bike lock you can buy. This one should hold it, and the bike is obviously old, hopefully less enticing to theiving eyes. Of course, a few days later, I discover that the rear tire is flat. Ends up, it's got a slow leak at the base of the vavle stem. So now, finally, I've replaced both tires (which honestly needed it anyway) with new inner tubes. So here we go again!


Bike Thieves
2006-06-02 14:38 - Lieuallen

That really stinks, that your bike would be stolen after 2 days!

Would it be impossible for you to take it into your apartment and workplace?

It's just too easy
2006-07-13 20:32 - arantius

I'm far from the only one to suffer bike loss to theives. In fact, somebody has documented just how easy bike theivery is in NYC.

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