I have not owned a bicycle since my first year in middle school. Sure, I have ridden on bicycles during that time. Yes, Ashley has a bicycle that I have occasionally taken for a spin in the past. However, I have not had a personal bicycle since then. To be honest, I am not even sure what happened to the bicycle. I remember having one and, suddenly, do not remember having one. I believe my last bicycle was green. Until now, that is. Now I own a touring bicycle, the color I will affectionately call “Dad’s thermos”. Say “Hello” to my new bicycle: the Surly Long Haul Trucker.
Let us rewind for a minute. Ashley and I recently moved back to Nashville. As part of this move, both of us are now working out of a home office. Suddenly, our two car situation is a bit ridiculous. The car that I am leasing has set in our garage without moving for over two months now. We talked and decided that it is a bit foolish to waste the money on two vehicles. Since both of us have home offices, we rarely have need to be in two places at the same time. After crunching the numbers, even if I were to buy a used car outright, the cost of maintenance and insurance alone is not a small sum of money. Additionally, our new home has a one car garage with limited parking space in the driveway. Not exactly two car friendly.
When we chose our current home, we chose it because of the neighborhood. The home is beautiful, but our first concern was location. Our home is located in a neighborhood that is nestled in-between two high traffic areas. These high traffic areas have great restaurants, coffee shops (side note: it feels wonderful to be within walking distance of good coffee again), and grocery stores. After realizing that two cars is a bit of overkill for our situation, I started to consider another option: a bicycle.
My requirements were quite simple. I wanted a bicycle that was comfortable to ride (with the option of doing more long rides in the future if I desired). I wanted a bicycle that could be fitted with racks or saddle bags to haul items (from the grocery store, for example). Luckily, we have a neighborhood bicycle shop: Halcyon Bike Shop.
I visited the bicycle shop over the course of two days. During that time, I took six bicycles out for a test ride. I felt all were nice, but there was one that I just could not get out of my mind: the Surly Long Haul Trucker. It was love at first ride. I rode it both days and enjoyed each ride. I made the leap and purchased it. Since then, I have taken the LHT out for a few spins. The weather is starting to get colder and there has been quite a bit of rain in the forecast, so my time on the road is limited. However, a few observations:
- There are some routes that are great for bicycle traffic
- There are some routes that are awful for bicycle traffic
- Nashville has more hills than you think, some of them very subtle
- My longest ride has only been for a few miles; I am not in riding shape for long distances, regardless of how regularly I have been to the gym in the past year
I am not sure if riding a bicycle to most places in Nashville will work long term. I figure it would be a good time to try though. I would assume an increase in bicycle traffic will lead to expansions of bicycle lanes, which would be a welcome improvement moving forward. Plus: it is fun.