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A recent bike shop experience

December 31, 2012

I got out of the kiddie pool and jumped into the deep end.

I’ve been fantasizing about three bikes for the better part of a year, a Rivendell Sam Hillborne, a Velo Orange Campeur, and a Tern Verge S11i. Each is for a specific niche of riding and I had daydreamed ad nauseum about how I would use each. The Sam for long wandering hills through the country, the Campeur for barreling down unpaved and double track fire trails, and the Tern for zipping around the city in search of good coffee. A few problems with these scenarios though. First, all my proposed niches were already filled (Bridgestone, Trek, and Dahon). This severely limited my convincing fuel. It would predictably always dead end at sure I want it but I don’t need it. Everything considered, the Tern would probably be the “wisest” purchase of the three based on where I live (city) and how I get to work (train on most days). Fantasizing persisted.

Over the long holiday weekend, I convinced the Mrs with the prospect of Tyson Corner’s malls to come with me to Bikes@Vienna. Bikes@Vienna specializes in recumbents and folding bikes and they have tons of models to try out. I had no little intention of actually purchasing a bike on this day. No, really. In fact, a few months ago I test rode a Tern Verge Duo (a cable-less 2-speed with coaster brakes) I had been admiring. I wasn’t smitten. That fantasy faded and I was once again a mostly normal-functioning human being. I believed something similar would happen on today’s test ride. Plus, bringing the wife along would ensure I at least slept on it.

I arrived at the little shop to find the large display of bikes that normally sit outside were not there. Instantly bummed, I realized they must be closed for the holidays, I… oh, never mind, they’re open! I ran towards the door like a little kid running to the gates at Disney World. My wife sprinted behind me (though because it was freezing cold and windy).

The shop was packed with bikes normally reserved for the parking lot. Too windy, the mechanic explained. Unable to get between the bikes, I timidly inquired if they had the Verge S11 in stock (This crept into my mind: I want a Red Ryder carbine-action, two hundred shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time). They had one ready to go. Strapping on the shop’s helmet (and realizing I have a small head), I was off…

Holy. Crap.

It was instant. This bike was unlike anything I rode before. It was not like other Dahons, or the Brompton I tested, or even the Verge Duo from a few weeks ago. To give you an idea of how it felt, sit on a comfy stool, move your legs in tiny circles in the air (and then travel down the road really fast). It was smooth, easy, and natural. I rode the bike for a bit up hills, through traffic, over gravel with quick stops. Really, the only thing on my mind was figuring out how to leave the shop without giving the salesman my credit card.

Back at the shop, my wife (who I brought along for control) was on her phone. I gave her a big thumbs up and a goofy smile. She continued her conversation. I was all alone. I told the salesman how great it was and then quickly tried to steer the conversation away. Oh, so do you have any of the titanium Bromptons in stock (I really had no desire for a Brompton at that moment).

Somehow, I made it out and headed back to the car. I debriefed my wife. Then she said, ok do it! I tried to respond but my shock produced only a whimper. She went on, “You’ve obsessed. And researched. And obsessed. If you don’t get it today, you’ll be back in a couple of months. Why wait?” Reverse psychology, of course. Somehow the keys made it into the ignition but, it was impossible for them to move anymore than that.

This back and forth went on for a while. Then she said, “well I don’t want to hear you keep obsessing if you don’t buy it today.” Oh! So I would be doing her a favor. Well in that case.

New bike!

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Obligatory bike shot in front of DC landmark

PS: Despite itching to pedal home, I still had a prior commitment I made with the Mrs. Bike conveniently stored in the car trunk, it was off to the mall. Ugh…

PPS: Thanks honey!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 31, 2012 8:59 pm

    Congrats on making the leap to a Tern! I really like the look of your Verge– it looks like a combination of my Dahon and my Tricross bike.

  2. December 31, 2012 10:27 pm

    Congrats…nice bike and story.
    What did the misses get at the mall?

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