Saturday, March 21, 2015

A New Bicycle, A New Approach, and Vera

I ended up purchasing a bicycle yesterday.

It all started when I drove down to Target (one of those big box stores) in Steelyard Commons, a shopping central area just immediately south of Downtown Cleveland. I got my monthly paycheck and I wanted to get a couple of new utility carts and maybe a sweater/zip-up hooded sweatshirt.  I went inside the store, and started to browse.  I will say this: their selection of plus-size (or what I call "Verasize") clothing for big folks with female anatomy is sorely lacking.  Get on that, Target.

Meanwhile, after looking around, I asked some store clerks to help me find those "little buggies that you would use at the West Side Market" (because I didn't know they were called utility carts until afterwards).  And that selection was sorely lacking as well.  Get on that too, Target.

To my dismay, I turned my head and saw some bicycle helmets, hanging on hooks in an aisle shelf.  And a thought hit me at that moment.  I want a bicycle.

(Sidebar: the last time I owned a bicycle was in 2006. In 2005, I purchased a bicycle from, ironically, Target, but at the city where I was living at the time, Elyria.)

So, I spent the next 20 minutes trying on bicycle helmets.  Now, I know I have a big ol' head, but these damn devices didn't have to fit for non-Verasized heads (99% of these helmets were too small for me). However, I did find a helmet that actually fit. I didn't care how fugly it was; I found me a mother fucking bicycle helmet!

My next approach was to see if I could actually find a bicycle.  And lo and behold, there she was. Or he was.  Or they were.  I wonder if bicycles have gender or not.

This gorgeous piece of metal and leather was just waiting to be purchased.  This one gentleman shopper even looked at it, asking how much it was.  I looked for a price for this machine, and there wasn't any price listed.  Heh, free?  I found a new store clerk and asked for the price, and by the time the clerk went to investigate the price of the bicycle, the other shopper moved on.  The store clerk was like, "it has no price; it's on clearance.  It used to be $189.99."

Cha-ching!  Sold to this pain in the azz!

A second new store clerk came by to help the first new store clerk with the pricing.  She said: "well, this doesn't have a price, and it was $189.  I can sell it to you for $150."

Bite me, I'm buying this bicycle.  And this helmet.

I ended up buying the bike, the helmet, a tire inflator pump, and a security device called a "U-Lock."

So I was a happy Vera.  So I was.

(Sidebar: when I purchased my first bike in 2005, in Elyria, the bike could not fit into my car at the time, a 2005 Toyota Echo.  A good Samaritan stranger loaded up my bike in his truck and drove it back to my apartment.  Yeah, I don't recommend doing that.)

The first new store clerk carried my bike outside while I pulled up my car to retrieve.  The clerk and I had a problem; the bicycle wouldn't fit into my 2005 Toyota Echo (yes, the same one as the sidebar. You would think 10 years later I would have figured this out, but no.).

Then I came up with a new approach.

I told the clerk, "I'm going to drop off my car at my apartment and take the bus back here to pick it up."

Are you out of your damn mind? Why in the unholy hell would anybody take the damn bus to pick up a bicycle?!

Because I'm Vera Didenko, and I can, that's why.

I drove home with all of my goodies sans (or except) my bicycle.  I dropped everything off, grabbed my transit pass (it's good for both buses and transit trains to which locals call the "rapid"), and headed back down to Target.  I then went inside the store, showed my proof of purchase, and walked out with this glorious manual machine.

And then the fun would begin.

First, the bus came by.  The first rule of riding on public transportation in Cleveland is that you can not board your bicycle onto the bus (or coach).  So, where the hell is this bike going to go?  Luckily for me, this (and all other) buses have bike racks, located in front.  Unluckily for me, I had to learn super quick how to actually use this bike rack, for fear of grumpy passengers trying to get to work or something.  Since the bike rack was not being utilized, I pulled it down first. Then, I had to figure out where the bike would stay put, because each rack post had stickers labeling where the front tire of the bicycle would go.  After I figured that out, I then had to figure out how in the fuckamole is this contraption going to stay put without flying off this movable bike rack?  Each rack post has this arm device, where you manually activate it to sit over the front tire of your bike.  It's more of a security measure to make sure your bike stays in place.

After all of 90 seconds (which seem like 5 minutes for passengers, heh), I was able to board onto the bus.

Going through the different neighborhoods, including the construction torn area of Slavic Village, and the very busy North Broadway areas, the bicycle stayed secure on the bike rack the entire trip.  I was impressed.  I boarded off the bus and dismounted the bicycle off of the bike rack.  I also had to return the bike rack to its original position because there were no other bikes being utilized.

Second, I had to take a rapid back to my apartment.  This is where it gets a bit tricky, because there are two types of trains; heavy rail (Red Line) and light rail (Blue Line and Green Line).  Since my neighborhood is on the light rail system, I had to board onto the rapid using 2-3 stairs (the heavy rail is a straight platform, no stairs at all).  Yeah, I also forgot that the strength of my arms were the equivalent of cooked spaghetti noodles.  I was fortunate enough to have a passenger assist me with boarding onto the rapid.  I had a second passenger advise me on how to keep the bicycle from rolling around the rapid while I went up to pay my fare.  I was so excited and happy that these folks took the time to assist me with my very apparent and obvious clumsiness over this bicycle.

After the quick train trip, I made it back to my neighborhood.  I was able to exit the train with the bicycle, and walk it back to my apartment.  All in one piece.

And that was my exercise for the day.  I had no idea how out of shape I was until I got back home.

So, what am I going to do with this device?  Well, after I properly inflate the tires and get some guidance on how to adjust the settings on this baby, the 1401 (fourteen-oh-one, the name of my bicycle), will be ready for exploring.  And in the meantime, I can get my own self settings adjusted by utilizing the stationary bike in the apartment complex's gym center.

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