What I need is a bike that I can ride from my house on the South Hill down to the Plaza, lock to a rack and leave there all day, and then ride it back up the hill at the end of the day. It needs to be relatively efficient on pavement, but it would also be nice if it had a little off-road capability so that I can ride up or down the the trails off High Drive on occasion. And of course it needs to be able to haul a little freight so I can do errands on the way home. It needs to be ugly enough so that nobody bothers it at the plaza and double-ugly enough so that I don't get attached to it, in case they do anyway. But if it could have just a hint of charisma amidst the ugliness, that would be cool, too.
So I decided that the bike for the job is an older rigid-fork mountain bike. There are quite a few around, so finding one shouldn't be too tough, and shouldn't take a lot of cash. I started my search with Craigslist. Too far to travel looking at bikes. Then, yard sales. Colossal waste of time. Next, pawn shops. Mostly front-suspended, over-priced Chinese bikes with no character. I was starting to think this was going to be a little tougher than I thought. But then, out of the blue, Ken over at the Cycling Spokane forum posted about an old Specialized Hard Rock for sale at the VOA thrift store for $60. (Thanks, Ken!) I knew it was the bike for me when I read that it was a "Gloriously god-awful shade of green." Due to my superior bargaining skills, I was able to talk them all the way down to $55. ;-)
Here she is on the day I brought her home, in all her glory, complete with mis-matched knobbies. The picture doesn't do it justice, but trust me when I tell you the saddle is hideously non-anatomical.
The weird roller-cam rear brake that Ken mentioned.
Color-coordinated stem with pass-through brake cable. Sweet.
Over the last couple of weeks I've been goofing around with her, going through the bearings and whatnot, shaking her down on short trips around the neighborhood. She's quickly become the short-trip, jump-on-in-your-flipflops, errand-running bike of choice. I don't wanna carry any kind of tool kit, so I had to get some Armadillos. I love Armadillos, but these are seriously ugly. I can't believe I bought them. I can't believe I spent more on them than on the bike. They should be perfect.
She's a work in progress, but we're off to a good, ugly start. She's ready for her first commute tomorrow.
I'm know I'm not supposed to get attached to this bike. She's now ugly enough that only a mother could love her. I call her the AquaVelva. You can call me mother.