Friday, March 28, 2008

There are bikes, and then there are bikes

When I was a kid, I grew my way through a few bikes, but they were all of them practical. They had fenders to keep off the mud splatters, and they had baskets. I did not consider myself properly set up unless I had saddle baskets as well as a handlebar basket. The saddle baskets were rigid wire like the regular basket, but deeper, and straddling the back wheel as they did, they had a lower center of gravity. I could carry an astonishing amount on a bicycle. My violin posed a problem. On my way to lessons, I had to carry it on the handlebars instead of in a basket, but otherwise, those baskets could handle pretty much whatever I wanted to carry.

In Japan, I likewise had a practical bicycle. I was visiting a friend over there, and she happened upon a couple of bikes that had been thrown away, that she thought could be fixed up easily. So she brought them home, and with a bit of elbow grease and ingenuity, we were set. We horrified our Japanese acquaintances, by the way. "But those bikes are gomi," they said. Trash. Garbage. Rubbish. Something someone has thrown away. "So?," we crazy Americans cheerfully said, "just call us The Gomi Sisters." At that point I think several of our friends decided that they would never understand Americans.

But anyway, my recycled Japanese bike was sturdy and had a basket, and it made my life easier. Where we were was well set up for using a bicycle for going to the grocery store, and it was customary to shop daily. Considering the kitchen in my friend's apartment, and its lack of storage space, it was also along toward necessary to shop nearly every day, by the way.

So, the last few years, I have been looking, without success, for a similar bike, with which to do my grocery shopping these days. Does anyone around here carry a sensible bike? No. I can buy a bike and a trailer to go with it, by which fancy and somewhat expensive set-up I can use the bike for shopping, but, so far at least, I have not been able to find a basic, one-speed, workhorse of a bike, with fenders, and with baskets. There seems to be a horror of baskets these days. And of fenders, for that matter. Sigh.

You would think, with the cost of driving a car being what it is these days, and the push to use less fuel, that stores would be crawling with practical bicycles, ones that you can use on shopping trips. But, no. At least not around here.

While on the subject of bikes, this is interesting. And fun, albeit in a slightly wacky way. But I can't see how useful it would be, if you had groceries to pack home, etc. The Hyperbike (aka Body Rite) official website is here. What they tell you at the official site, but might not be clear from the television interview, is that the bikes shown in the videos are prototypes.

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