Well, this first week has brought me good news and bad news. The good news is that I’m surrounded by some truly great people who wasted no time in donating money to my quest to support Make-A-Wish Michigan through the Wish-A-Mile Bicycle Tour. I can’t thank you enough! Selfishly, when I signed up – and by signed up, I mean finally gave in to the peer pressure from Jason and Andy – I was only thinking about myself. Could I ride that distance? Could I find the time? Could I do the training? I had overlooked the real purpose, which is to help children suffering from critical illness and to bring a little joy to them and their families. I am thankful to those who appreciated how important this is.
But that takes me to the bad news. Now that I have put it out there and started getting donations, I guess I really gotta do this. I won’t lie, when I signed up on New Year’s Eve I was still not 100% committed. My neighbor, Jason, exploited my love for adventure. He may have also exploited my decision-making abilities after a few drinks. Either way, as much fun as I knew it would be, there was still a part of me which thought I would say yes to stop the nagging and then maybe ghost them later. But now here I am. Being supported by great folks who donated their hard-earned dough. I can’t say no to that. Plus, I have now made it my personal mission to find a bike and the gear necessary to do this. Because if there is one thing I love, it’s buying gear for a new hobby.
In the week since my first post, I think I have made some real progress. I mentally committed. I registered on the Wish-A-Mile fundraising site. I got donations. I even went out and found my first official biking shirt. Now, it isn’t full-on spandex, but it is a tight-fitting shirt that I can wear during cold weather training rides. Well, that is, I could wear it if I had a bike. The bike is the one thing I don’t have yet. And from what I am learning, it would seem to be one of the more essential pieces to successfully completing this ride.
Shortly after signing up for the Wish-A-Mile, I found out that Performance Bike was closing all of its stores and liquidating. Unfortunately for me, I was the last of the vultures to arrive at the nearest location. Bikes were picked over. They had gotten down to selling off the actual shelves, individual sprockets from used bikes, and the size smedium long-sleeve shirt mentioned above. As you may have read in previous posts, my used bike search was not going so hot. January in Michigan doesn’t seem to be such a great time for bike buying and selling. So it was off to a real bike shop (that wasn’t going out of business) to see what I could find.
My first, and so far only, stop was to the local bike shop in town. These guys are great. Since moving to this small town, we have bought at least five bikes from them. From that time in 2007 when The Wife and I decided we needed bikes because we were going to be hip, active, young people, to the first training-wheel bike we bought for our son, to the mountain bike he now rides, and the lovely purple cruiser our daughter enjoys, these guys have been our go-to source for bikes. The only part I was not looking forward to was going in and admitting that I needed something - but didn’t know what. You see, I hate not knowing stuff. And I really hate admitting it. I love spending money on new toys, but I like to feel as though I know what is out there, what I need, and what I want. Road biking fits none of those categories. I mean, sure, I will probably spend some money, but I still know nothing about what my options are or what I need. I have been getting a slow education, however, from the interwebs.
I met with one of the shop owners and explained that I needed a bike for a three-day charity ride. I described what I thought I wanted, and then gave my price point. While the owner was nice enough to not actually laugh in my face, he made it clear that what I was looking for did not exist at that price point. Bad news? I’m not likely to ever find the bike I want. Good news? I may end up riding an actual unicorn for three days. He gave a brief rundown of different styles of bikes and suggested he have one of the other employees follow up via email. Being the full-service business they are, I got an email with more specific information and recommendations within an hour or two.
The one thing I thought would not come into play during my bike shopping (or this whole charity ride, for that matter) was politics. But, as The Wife has pointed out for nearly 15 years, I was wrong again. It would seem as though tariffs and Chinese trade issues have affected the bike industry especially hard. So even if I find the right magical bike in my price range, it may be difficult to actually locate because of delays in shipping and trade. Awesome. I considered going to China, buying a bike, and bringing it back with me. But, again, The Wife pointed out just how wrong I can be. So for now, it may be back to the used market. In my job I see reports of stolen bikes all the time. They have to be resold somewhere right? Kidding. Mostly.
At this point, I have plans to hit a few more shops to check other brands and perhaps see if they are willing to trade a decent bike for a really charming 6-year-old who never stops talking. But in the meantime, I have come up with a new theory. We do still have the bike trailer from when we used to pull the kids around behind us. I think if I keep working out and get into really good shape, I can fit into the trailer AND have room for a case of beer. Since Neighbor Jason is in such good shape, I will let him pull me on the ride. I think between the beers I can offer, and my super-awesome motivational skills, he will do just fine. And technically, I think it still qualifies as me biking.
In all seriousness, I assure you I will find a bike and ride this thing. Even if it is a 1980’s era Huffy. I hope you will please consider donating to the cause. You can click here to make your donation to this wonderful charity. Please check back for updates as I finally get a bike and start to train.