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On The Road in Florida Cruising | Scenic Routes | Speed Traps | Cool Places To Visit | Interesting Experiences in Florida

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Unread 08-23-2014, 01:57 AM   #1
Rich Z
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Crawfordville, FL
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Name : Rich Zuchowski
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Default Bicycles!

Connie and I bought some el cheapo Walmart bicycles a while back and we have been taking them to St. Joe State Park here in north Florida when we would rent a cabin there. Also cleared up our trail a bit and been riding that as well. We both seemed to be really enjoying riding bikes, so when I discovered that the crank on my bike was wobbling like hell, and the shifter cable on the rear gear set was broken at the connector, I figured maybe we just needed to get some better bikes.

So Thursday we went to a local bike shop to take a look around.

Yikes! Seriously? Someone would pay over $7,000 for a bicycle? Even the cheapest bikes there were 6 to 8 times what we paid for the Walmart bikes! And all of them, regardless of price, are still made in China anyway.

Well, we talked it over before we went out there and figured that if we got GOOD bikes, hopefully they would just last longer than the el cheapo brands. I guess we can only hope that there is some sort of quality being put into something to make them much more expensive.

Anyway, we were first looking at what is known as a "hybrid" bike, in that it (I think) is best suited for a combo of flat paved roads and some minor trail riding. But when I looked at them, those skinny tires just didn't give me any confidence at all. Not too long ago we went to St. George Island and rode from the last pavilion all the way to the pass. That was a trip of five miles one way, which I will admit I was quite astonished that we could do. Of course, we nearly died of heat prostration and dehydration, but that's another story. Anyway, that trip was on a road that was pretty much just compacted sand, with some areas being soft sand. And those larger tires we had on the Walmart bikes had trouble with the sand. So I certainly didn't think those skinny hybrid tires would be worth considering.

Sooo, they had some mountain bikes there that had some 29 inch knobby tires that were around 2 inches wide and they looked much better for what we wanted. The way I figured it, a mountain bike can certainly handle paved roads well enough, but a road bike sure as heck won't handle off roading like we were planning on. I think the models we got are the Specialized Rockhopper 29ers. "Specialized" seems to be a pretty good brand name from what I have learned on the net, so hopefully they will hold up. These were 2012 models and made in Taiwan instead of China. Not real cheap, but not a severe blow to the chin, neither. As usual, I figured out the tops I wanted to spend and wound up spending twice that.

We took them out for a test ride. They only had two, one black and one red. Connie HATES red, so I got the red one. Color doesn't matter to me as long as it's not hot pink or purple. Anyway, the bikes rode so much better than the Walmart bikes that it was ridiculous. The gear shifting was completely effortless and the bikes were obviously much faster even on that short stint on flat roadway. From the smiles on Connie's face I could see that she was enjoying the bike too, so what was I supposed to do?

So we put them into the bike carrier I bought for Connie's truck and brought them on home, with a much lighter credit card. We also bought some pretty funky helmets and a few other odds and ends. People on the bike forums talked a LOT about "crashes", so I presume this is a common thing. Heck, I "crashed" the Walmart bike once myself at St. Joe and scraped up my knee in the process. Didn't notice that broken off asphalt (meaning "hole") where my foot was supposed to rest when I stopped to look at something along the road, and over I went. So maybe having something to help from clunking your noggin against concrete or asphalt is a good thing.

Been riding around our path and we can go the entire route (surprising for this neck of the woods, our path is actually a little bit hilly) without keeling over once or twice. With the Walmart bikes it was much more of a struggle to ride the path. Still really gets our hearts a pumping, so I'm hoping this will be good exercise rather than a death wish. I'm thinking that there just might be an age reached where it isn't really exercise any more, just stress testing the heart till you fail it.

But bike riding IS a lot of fun. Having a good bike is likely going to be a whole lot MORE fun. If I live through it, of course.
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Last edited by Rich Z; 08-23-2014 at 04:28 AM. Reason: Corrected model name
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