Two years ago I parked my bike in front of Muv Fitness downtown Spokane. Smoke from nearby fires hung heavy over the city, and a treadmill offered the only reasonable long run option that week. After two tedious hours of all-work-and-no-pleasure joint pounding, I descended to street level, opened the doors, and stepped onto the sidewalk. Immediately I noticed that something wasn’t right.
I tried to convince myself that my bike was still there. It had to be. Or that maybe I had not ridden it after all, and it was safe in my garage. Or perhaps I had parked it in a different rack. It took a few minutes to accept the reality.
I finally called Crime Check to report the bike stolen. Then I walked across the street and purchased an ice cream cone. I slurped my cold treat as I walked the 2 miles home and had a stomachache by the time I was halfway across the Monroe Street Bridge.
Once the anger subsided—anger at the thief for taking my bike, and anger at myself for relying on such a flimsy chain—two competing concerns darted around in my over-sugared brain.
First, I was sad to say goodbye to an old friend, my Giant OCR3. I bought the bike with my tax return during my first year of grad school. During my first long and lonely winter in Spokane I used that bike to shake off the winter blues by pumping those pedals.
I bought a bike rack, installed it on the back of my friends Honda Accord, and drove that bike to Pennsylvania to a summer job and my first Olympic triathlon. At the end of the summer, I stashed it on top of my friends Prius and it slowed down our gas mileage past Mount Rushmore and through the Badlands on its way back to Spokane. I didn’t own a car, so it served as my primary form of transportation for nearly five years. It was my commuting bike, race bike, and cruise-around-town bike, all in one.
My second concern resembled a hyper-privileged existential crisis. Now that I was starting over, what kind of bike would I buy, and what kind of cyclist would I become?
I decided to dabble. First I bought matching yellow vintage touring bikes that had been stashed in a couples garage for 20 years. I loved the way they looked, but I didn’t like how heavy they were as I lugged them up and down the stairs at work. Plus I could never totally eradicate the squeaks no matter how many parts I cleaned.
Next I purchased an ultra-flash tri bike at the 2018 Bike Swap. A year later, it’s still in my shed, too aggressive and pro-looking for me to even shop for the pedals I need.
Finally, after way too many Craigslist sessions, I saw it— the Trek One, an entry level road bike, in my size, in good shape, and cheap. It’s light. I can afford to replace it if it ever gets stolen. It’ll race in a mediocre way, which is all I need. It’s nothing fancy, and its just what I need: two wheels and a light aluminum frame.The whole experience reminded me that the best bike isn’t determined by what the bike is designed for, be it road, gravel, trails, hills, or cruising. The best kind of bike is the one you like enough to climb on the saddle again and again and ride.