We’ve established my Ready, Fire, Aim personality and the caveats that may entail. Don’t worry. We are just getting started.
For this one, we have to go back in time. Back when I commuted a very long time to work in a sea of cubicles and wanted a bike for weekend fun. This is five or six years ago, and I got a “road bike.” At the time I didn’t have any beef with REI and didn’t really know what “road bike” meant; it was a previous year’s clearance so price was nice, it would fit my frame, and it was aesthetically pleasing to me. That was truly the extent of my needs at the time.
Is it cool just to stroll into a bike shop and start asking questions?
Back then, which seems like so long ago now, I went into Sellwood Cycle Repair and got a U-lock. Really nice crew, they actually did quite a bit on kids’ bikes for me and the U-lock was just something else I needed. The guy at the time said something about liking the mid-size model because it easily fit around bike stands and it still fit in his back pocket. To be honest, I was only half listening. Momlyfe requires 50% of all brain activity to be working on other issues during any conversation. You want me to remember something? Put it in writing. It’s not a legal request; it’s an efficiency request.
Apparently, I lost the U-lock bracket mount at some point. It didn’t matter back when I got it. I had always thrown the lock (and water bottles and full size air pump and all snacks and blankie and…you get the idea) into the Burley trailer when we had it. We’d do the weekend thing on trails and rarely ever hit a road unless briefly enroute. Now that I can bike around solo and my needs have changed, I tried putting the lock around my bike in various places. Nope. I tried putting it in my back pocket. HAHAHAHA. No. The backpack option isn’t the most ideal in every situation, so I dropped off my youngest at school, and headed over to the closest bike shop expecting to find a bracket, best case scenario, or worst case scenario I’ll have to buy a new lock.
Ok, first question…
“What’s the protocol here? Is it cool just to stroll into a bike shop and start asking questions? Can I just walk in and get whatever I need done, done?”
So far, I feel I have had really good luck in this department, but I’m not sure if I’m doing it right. I’ve only been snubbed at a few places, one of which, rightly so. I mean, let’s face it, no, I’m not buying a $5,000 Italian bike. That’s totally cool. No hard feelings there at all. This time I went to Kenton Cycle Repair, and Rich literally spent hours helping me right then and there. Which is why I’m asking – is that cool? To just go in, and take up hours of his time without making an appointment first?
I hear you. Hours for a lock bracket? Ok, well, they didn’t have any that fit my Abus. Rich offered to order one; but after hearing my story (I left out the part about the FBI), he asked if I was getting a bike rack at any point and showed me how the lock can thread through a rack. That was so cool. I honestly had no idea. The bike rack and bags was all stuff I was already researching, so when 2-3 hours later I had a bike rack and two panniers, I feel like I came out winning. Time saved, some poor guy had to listen to my 100 questions, even another worker, Claire, got roped into helping at some point. Money well spent, and now I can get groceries!
And that’s my second question.
“How are you getting groceries? Do you get delivery? Shop every 2-3 days? Have fewer children so don’t have to worry about it as much?”
While I respect the possibility the last of those questions may apply to you, I can’t put mine back, so I’m going to have to find some solutions here. I have found the max capacity of my tiny waxed canvas backpack, and I’ve found that my backpack + two panniers can work pretty well for some things. I have managed to fit quite a bit and not lose balance, but I’d love your input and advice. We don’t eat out; I’m an avid cook. I even make our weekly bread from scratch. Like I’ve said, many of you have been at this longer, and there may be more like me out here lurking, or maybe some that are curious and haven’t jumped on board yet.
Note from author: This is not an ad, native advertising, nor paid endorsement. Rich/Kenton really was very helpful, as was Sellwood, Block Bikes, and most other shops I’ve been into; I like to shop local as much as possible.
— Becky Jo, @BeckyJoPDX
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Becky Jo lives in North Portland with her husbeast, four children, two cats, and has packed more fabric into their modest house than anyone will ever know. While she knows her way around a sewing machine, cycling is new, filling her with great wonder, confusion, and occasionally panic.