Legend: BLUE-open, RED-closed, GREEN-by donation
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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

i went green today

it's been in the works for some time now. and finally, i've made a big step towards going green.

for the past few months, i've been vowing to drive less for the same reasons as everyone else -- spend less on gas, avoid parking fees, burn more calories, and of course, save the environment :)

i've already been taking advantage of the local big blue bus line #1 which has been taking me from my home to many destinations on the westside: the village in westwood, the third street promenade in santa monica, and main street in venice.

the only thing missing was my being able to get to locations that required either a long walk from the nearest bus stop or a long wait for a bus transfer. the best option was to reach those by bicycle. so as extra incentive to make that cycling plan more likely to happen, i decided to buy myself a new bke.

it took me a while, though, to figure out exactly what kind of pedal-powered two-wheeler i wanted to get.

since i'd been spending a lot of my spare time on or near the beach, i initially coveted a single-speed beach cruiser. you know, something simple but cool. maybe something in a eye-popping color with unusual graphics. bright pink, bright blue, bright green, bright something. stars, flowers, squiggles, maybe even polka dots. whatever it was, it had to be something i could easily identify in a sea of bikes, whether it be at the beach, the farmers market, or even outside a yoga studio.

i picked up a couple of catalogs from some local bike shops and started thumbing through their pages. there were so many choices, so many options! nirve offered cruisers with sunflowers, crocodiles, and hello kitties. electra had models with names like hawaii, daisy, and pj party. they also had what sounded to be a perfect match for me: karma. yes, the purple fade bicycle with the gold paisley design and streamers looked and sounded really yogic. so i searched high and low and finally tried it out at a bike store... then promptly suffered through a case of buyer's remorse before i even bought the bike :(

sure, the bike was cute. and definitely unique. but was its cuteness and uniqueness worth its over-$400 price? i took it for a test ride. it was clearly a beach cruiser built for slow leisurely rides along the bike path; it had a solid steel frame, built for comfort more than for speed. the more i thought about my future plans for the bike -- like possibly using it in conjuction with buses and trains to commute to work or to meet up with friends -- i realized that i definitely had to take the bike's heft into consideration. ok, so maybe i really need to do more weights at the gym, but right now it would be a struggle for me to lift a heavy bike to place it on a bus's bicycle rack. yes, i had to get me a lighter bike. carbon fiber was definitely out of the question; something aluminum was more in line with my budget.

so now off on a different tack, i checked out hybrid bicycles. the more serious cannondales and treks and diamondbacks. and while their lightweight frames and multi-speed gearing made cycling a breeze, they were more money. much more. and fairly boring looking. sigh.

almost an entire month had gone by, and i still couldn't figure out what i wanted. by now, steve, my uber-cyclist officemate, had made it a habit to drop by my cubicle on a weekly basis to check in on the progress of my bike search. just get the beach cruiser, he'd say, as he reached to grab another handful of peanut m&m's hidden away in my desk drawer. hmph. easy for him to say, mister i-can-pedal-up-any-hill-on-a-single-speed-bike-without-breaking-into-a-sweat...

what i needed what a bike that looked like a beach cruiser but rode like a hybrid. or close to it.

finally, i think i've found it. i'm almost positive i've found it. in fact, i'm so sure that it's the bike for me that i actually found myself pulling out my credit card earlier this afternoon to pay for it: a lime green ladies' electra townie 3 (pictured here on page 17), complete with a detachable wicker basket and a green "i love my townie" bell . very girly, very fun. easy to ride and easy to carry. and while my legs and butt would probably go numb if i rode it 30 miles or more, that wasn't the intent, anyway.

my inaugural adventure will be to yoga class on friday morning. quite appropriate, don't you think... announcing my independence from my gas-powered vehicle on the 4th of july...

so if you ever see someone on a bright green bike toting a yoga mat on her back, trying to stuff an oversized beach towel in her handlebar basket, or standing at a bus stop as she waits to load her bike on the rack at the front of the bus, wave and say hi. it could be me, or someone else who is also trying to go green :)