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Biking a la Jay
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Bicycling in Brownsville


Biking a la Jay

The bicycle is probably the most efficient mode of transportation as long as the people you are going to visit don't mind you smelling like a goat. I've used the bike wherever possible since I was about six years old. I used to get in trouble for going too far, but I never thought anything about riding 7 miles into town. After all, when you're a kid you have plenty of two things — time and energy.

I still maintain that philosophy and ride to work. Since I'm a tightwad and a devout nonconformist, I haven't purchased the skin tight wardrobe you see on most weekend bikers. I always get a kick out of people who spend $1500 on a bike frame and then garage it 71.4% of the time (that's 5 out of 7 days for the decimally challenged).

In college I had a butt ugly, orange Huffy 10-speed because that's all I could afford, but when I was in graduate school and had even less money, I upgraded to a 1984 Raleigh Olympian. Raleigh advertised this bike as a lightweight (29 lb) sport/touring model. It's been a good bike and has given me very few problems.

Later in life I decided to try sitting upright and bought a 1994 Specialized Cross Roads. Outfitted with a mirror, fenders, a rear rack, lights, a frame bag, a lock and a pump, it weighs 35 pounds. Sitting up has its advantages. You can see cars very well — too well.

I'm now 47 and I got the bug up my butt to shop for yet another bike. I spent a weekend on the net shopping first for a touring bike, then a cyclocross bike. I like the style behind the cyclocross bike. It's a “do everything” kind of animal. Then I discovered how much these things are. You can't touch 'em for less than $800 and most are above $1000. For that kind of money they ought to pollute the atmosphere.

So, I decided that these things wouldn't weigh that much less than my Raleigh which has been hanging like a bat for the past two years. I pulled it down, cleaned it up, slapped some new $3 Wal-Mart tires on it and it performs beautifully. Screw the Continental Top Touring purists. I'll buy these Cheng Shin specials all day.

Aside from getting from point A to point B, the bike provides good exercise. I'm currently riding a half hour in the morning and an hour at night. You can read specifics about bicycling in my town by clicking here.

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In the words of the great philosopher, Groucho Marx, “I donít care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.” I generally avoid “belonging” to any organization and usually ride by myself, but here is a link from the Texas Bicycle Coalition that contains some useful information. You can print out the bike laws and pull them out of your pocket to show rude drivers or even policemen if you really have chutzpah. I realize that laws vary from state to state, but Texas does cover about 10% of the contiguous United States.

Unless you've never ever performed a search for anything bicyclitic on the web, you would have heard of Sheldon Brown. This is some of the best bicycle humor on the net and there are a host of instructional pages as well.

I recently performed a search on Google for 'bicycle reviews' and found some sites that actually offer bike reviews. I've listed a few of them below.

If you're shopping for a mountain bike you might want to check out bikereviews.com. The site has loads of ads and pop-ups, but you can read some poor schmuck's review of a bike.

You can also go to bicycle.com if you want a real waste of time. The last time I was on there, it looked like the web designer was a little HTML challenged. I put 'Fuji' in the search page and there were no results—huh?

For my money, roadbikereview.com has decent and honest comparisons. However, you have to remember that most of these guys think $1000 is an affordable sum for a bike.

Finally, for my view on the wisdom of motor vehicle operators, click here.

Share the road!!
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Last revised 2001.09.03