My Darling Husband, who is just the best at giving gifts that are perfect and surprising, did something rare this weekend. He told me what he was thinking of getting me for our anniversary. He said it was early, and he didn't want to spoil the surprise, but there was a great sale at The Bike Gallery, perhaps the best bike store in all of the nation, or at least in Portland, OR. He had one he thought I'd like, but he wanted to run it by me first.
When we walked into the store on Friday, I was as excited as a little kid. My first bike was a red Schwinn. It had a white basket, and my mom wove yellow plastic flowers into the weave. Taking the training wheels off of that bike was one of the happiest days of my life. I was in second grade, and suddenly had the freedom to ride all the way to the top of our block, and eventually, all the way to the other end of the block, stopping only to show off my bike to admiring neighbors or put treasures (rocks) in my basket.
I've had lots of bikes since, and the one I've had for the last 15 years has served me very well. But I haven't served it well at all. I've ridden it to work a few times, and have trudged along on family rides, bitching all the way about the gears slipping. Have I ever had it serviced? Mmmmmm? Maybe once in fifteen years. But I honestly wasn't looking to replace it. I loved my bike. I loved bitching about it. But my darling husband, who rides his bike almost every day to the train station has been walking in the door looking jubilant and refreshed and fabulous. It's helped his stress, and he's healthier with every mile he puts on it.
So, he convinced me. Plus, did I mention it was a sale? Even a lapsed Lutheran can't resist the irresistible lure of frugality. And this bike.... he'd already sort of picked it out. He'd looked over a few, and showed them to me, but this is what he showed me first, and I didn't even need to look at the others. This was it. It was creamy perfection, with just the right amount of fru-fru embellishment. It had a super comfy wide leather seat and those beautiful matching handlebars. But it wasn't until I took a test drive that I fell, hard and fast. So smooth, with enough gears to get me up the hills I'll encounter every day on my way to work. Add to that the fact that the bell, kickstand and bottle holder (plus bottle) were all included, and the fenders I'll surely need for rainy NW weather, plus the rack on the back to add my panniers for trips to the grocery store were added there in the store for a pittance, and I'm just swooning.
I can't say enough about the service at the Bike Gallery, too. Most of the staff have been with them off and on for years. As our lovely sales guy Nicko said with a big grin "You can't ever leave for good. They just keep pulling you back." He himself had worked there for years, now working full time at another fabulous Portland institution, but coming back to work sales on weekends, because, well, I think he just really loved it. You can tell they treat their employees well - everyone there just seemed really content and happy. Even the uber-hip Portland types broke into a grin when you spoke to them.