City Desk

Gear Prudence: Am I Cheating on My Hybrid With a Road Bike?

gearprudence

Gear Prudence: I’ve made a terrible mistake. I’ve been in a three-year relationship with a sturdy hybrid bike that’s met all my urban bike commuting needs. Or so I thought. On vacation I decided it might be fun to try something new, so I rented a high-end road bike and went for a 20-miler over some hilly terrain. Sweet Mother of God, riding this bike was like a religious experience. The efficiency with which power was transferred from my legs to the pedals was a revelation. I didn’t know riding a bike could feel this way. As a good Catholic girl, I assumed biking, like all worthy pursuits, must involve pain and sacrifice. The hills are the penance I pay for all my daily transgressions. Now I look at my trusty cycling partner and wonder if I can remain faithful. I don’t want to succumb to the materialistic desires of the flesh but I’ve been forever changed. I’ve asked my cycling friends for help and, of course, they just lead me into the temptation of acquiring a more expensive bike. What am I to do? —Resist Or Accept Destiny By Idealizing Kinetic Energy?

Dear ROADBIKE: Your vacation fling found you with a powerful new sensation between your legs. Now as you longingly recall your time away, you can’t help but project what could be. Maybe there’s white wine and wistful sighing and bubble baths involved. But what does it mean for your current ride? While three years with a bike is a solid commitment, most bicycle relationships aren’t lifelong. Maybe it’s time for you and your hybrid to go in for some counseling—with a trained bike-shop professional. A tune-up or some upgrades (new wheels? a new drivetrain?) could help rekindle the spark. Though probably not. Most of the time, a bike is what it is.

But before you slough off your sturdy steed, put foremost in mind your more quotidian needs. Most days aren’t for carefree 20-milers through rolling hills. What about your regular cycling life? Will you need to alter the new bike (slow it, even) with a rack, fenders, and a new seat to make it suitable for your daily commute—thus robbing it of the sleek splendor that drew you to it in the first place? Will you be afraid to introduce your new bike to your friends for fear of raised eyebrows and behind-your-back whispers about your mutual suitability? Will you need all-new cycling attire, so that when you’re out in public you look like an appropriate couple? New partners bring new complications.

My advice: Ditch monogamy (and guilt, too). Keep the hybrid, but add the road bike. (You might want to clear this with any human partners you have first). Society has long since come around to the idea that one bike can’t fulfill all of your needs. There’s nothing wrong with an open-wheeled open relationship. —GP

 

Gear Prudence is Brian McEntee, who blogs at talesfromthesharrows.blogspot.com and tweets at @sharrowsdc. Got a question about bicycling? Email gearprudence@washingtoncitypaper.com.

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