Bike buying

I have it in my head that I want to own and operate a bicycle even though I have not owned and operated a bicycle since I was 12. This should end well. Bike buying is part of the constant self-improvement journey I’m always on. I figure since I live so close to work now that I could bike to and from on days when I don’t have my kids or any meetings that would require a car. I’d save gas, prolong my janky Honda Accord and maybe get a little cardio. Win, Win, Win.

I procrastinated on this shopping project for many months because I knew there was a lot I’d have to learn before I could even attempt a proper purchase of a quality, used bike. And I’ve been busy. I don’t remember what prompted the conversation on Twitter a few months ago, but a new-to-me person named Bill offered to advise me on bike buying.  I think I was checking out his Twitter profile and noticed he was a bike enthusiast. Perfect timing, Universe!

We exchanged emails and I was suddenly flooded with just the right information. Here are some excellent passages:

  • The ultimate goal is for you to find a bike that’s gonna be both comfortable and easy to ride. If it’s not, then it’s going to end up sitting in your garage collecting dust.
  • New or used, avoid anything and everything from Target or Walmart. While their bikes are cheap junk anyway, the bottom line is, they were assembled by an employee of Target or Walmart. If the goal is to keep riding, having a cheap bike that’s uncomfortable or always breaking down because of poor quality or assembly won’t encourage you to ride.
  • Don’t worry about buying what were traditionally known as women’s bikes with step through frames. Instead look for what’s called a hybrid bike.  A hybrid will give you the upright comfort of a mountain bike, but be better suited for the road with smoother tires and a more comfortable seat. You don’t want to bomb down mountains on it, but it’s light enough and geared to let you get up hills without blowing out your knees, and it will handle OKC’s delightful, pothole filled streets just fine.
  • Make sure you get a bike with enough gears to maintain a comfortable pedaling cadence regardless of the terrain.
  • Though they’re currently trendy, if you have *any* hills on your commute, avoid a single speed bike or beach cruiser. They’re fine for cruising with the kids and knocking around but, again, you want the ability to change gears to suit your terrain.
  • Craigslist will offer you the widest selection. Beware, as for every decent bike, there’s one that was liberated from the trash, cleaned up and sold as “gently ridden.”

During the planning stages of our vacation, I thought renting a bike on our San Francisco trip would be rad and figured bike ownership would help me not look like an idiot out there. Know what else I discovered about not looking like a bike-noob in San Francisco? Don’t rent bikes…which is what we did. Unfortunately, that means I’ll have to check off item #10 off on another visit to my fair city. (Darn…have to go BACK to San Francisco.)

Bill volunteered to review any Craigslist purchase I was considering. What actually happened, though, is that I triggered his inner bike junkie and suddenly I was getting emails with specific links. And not just links, Bill was cruising Craigslist for appropriate bikes in my size and price range, then asking the seller detailed info before passing the links along. He has relentlessly emailed me Craigslist bike listings for months, to which I am eternally grateful. Hoping that before it snows I will jump on one of those listings and just buy the bike already.

Anyone in the OKC area have a hybrid bike they want to sell cheap to this tall lady?

Bra algorithms

I’ve had two bras in the last month give up the ghost. Don’t you hate that? Much like shopping for jeans, shopping for bras is often an hours-long adventure that rarely ends in excitement or satisfaction. It is super-expensive. Or it is anti-climatic as you concede to 2 boring beige contraptions that “will work.” Or both. Or worse, the search is fruitless and you go home to just make-do with a reduced fleet until you can rally for a new battle.

Of course my bra needs happened right in the middle of back-to-school time of the year. Also, in the hottest part of the year. The thought of driving, parking and walking into a mall had me at Google with a “bra shopping” search. I ran across this Mashable article about a couple of female, former Microsoft employees who had invented a Bra Algorithm. Like a web-based bra robot! Read the article so I’m not tempted to plagiarize….. Done? Good.

I completed the survey, entered in my credit card and waited. A week or so later, it arrived. On first impression, I definitely was diggin’ the box. I always have things delivered to work and appreciated the discreet packaging. No one will know you’ve got a haul of lady items unless you’ve rattled on to your coworker a few days early about trying out an online, mail-order bra shopping service. Then you get a, “Hey Sheri! Your bras are here!”

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Was immediately impressed by the packaging. It was beautiful to open the box to find glittery wrapping, tissue and thoughtful notes.

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Also, there was a surprise free pair of teeny, tiny panties.

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I appreciate the sentiment, but shall give them to one of my teeny, tiny friends.

In the end, I didn’t keep any. Maybe I was a bit dishonest in my survey or maybe I should have remeasured some things since there is that slight weight gain that I also refused to own up to in the survey. BUT… trying on those five bras was very much like the in-store experience but without the hours-of-shopping hassle. They really varied in fit and comfort and side boob, just like when I’m sweating in the dressing rooms of Victoria’s Secret or Dillard’s, but it’s so much better than going to the mall. I’m getting back on the horse and trying another round of appropriately-sized garments.

It couldn’t be a better experience with regards to returns. I logged in to my True & Co account, then marked each bra appropriately regarding the specifics of why they didn’t work on my body. The online return survey took all of 2-3 minutes to complete. I placed the included the UPS return label sticker right over the old one and dropped the box off at the UPS Store near my office. ::poof::

I wish I had been honest during my original survey as I’d now have 2-3 new bras. I do this thing where I almost always buy clothes in the frame of mind that I’m about to lose 10-15 pounds, and I’m sure that’s what I did here. I need to learn to be in the present. :-)

**UPDATED**

They sent me a link so that my friends can get a $15 credit. Of course, they give me a credit when you buy (full disclosure) but I’m sharing the link regardless of the self-serving aspect. Who doesn’t like discounts and who doesn’t want to share those discounts with their friends? https://trueandco.com/?ref=C74VKC

Overzealous

There’s a new market in town called Sunflower Farmers Market and they carry a lot of produce and hippie food. I noticed the other day they had quinoa on sale for cheap and when I was again in the neighborhood I swung in to grab some of that cheap miracle grain.

Only I pulled the lever too hard and dispensed four pounds of bulk quinoa into my baggie. I shrugged at my mistake, tied off my vessel and finished my shopping with it perched on my hip like a Grain Baby.

Once I returned home a new situation arose. I have no containers in which to store four pounds of quinoa. Luckily, I found one that stored three and a half pounds of it just fine.

3.5 lbs of quinoa in a bear jar. That's how I roll.

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