Determined to find a bike, I rode today to a shop that was right across the street from where I used to work. I walked in and browsed while the barely legal staff helped other customers.
I saw a bike that looked like it was winking at me. It sat there, and it looked somehow smaller than the others. The cross bar looked lower, too. I didn't get my hopes up, because my ability to judge these things by eyeballing them is not great. I looked at the price tag, steeling myself as I usually do.
It was on sale. Not only that, the original price was a good three hundred dollars less than the original price of the other bikes I'd been shown. A further one hundred fifty dollars had been knocked off.
"Man, you are seriously flirting with me," I murmured. The bike gave me a sassy Daniel Day-Lewis sardonic smirk. Bastard.
I stepped away from the bike and looked around, feeling the bike's eyes boring into my back, knowing the smirk was still on its face.
"Have you been helped?" a young man asked. I explained my situation and what I was looking for.
"I'm throwing myself at your mercy," I said. "I mean, I know that there are differences among components, but I couldn't begin to define them. So I need you to help me find a bike that's right for me."
He was sweet and helpful, and while not overly masterful a la the retired old contractors at Home Depot, he was not condescending, and the information he gave me allowed me to feel that I was making an informed purchase.
"There's this bike here," he said, pulling out The Bike, which at this point swapped the smirk for a smug casualness. It was a Marin Fairfax, dark blue.
"Do the aesthetics of the bike appeal to you?" he asked. I adored him.
"As long as it doesn't have flowers and bumblebees on it, I'm fine," I said.
He adjusted the seat and I took it for a test drive. It was great; the bike abandoned its attitude and was all business, all response. I was flying. There was a lot more vibration that I'm used to, but I'd already planned to buy another gel seat. I returned and he had me take out a Trek road bike, which was nice, but not as nice as Smug Bike.
Returning to the shop, I was amazed at how easily I could maneuver the bike with one hand. Ditto being able to just pick it up with one hand. Another shop employee was walking by. "You buying that bike?"
"I think so. I really like, it. I've been having trouble finding a bike that fits me."
"Yeah, I wish this fit my wife. That is a great deal on that bike."
My guy, L---, came over.
"It's like riding a Turbo Q-Tip," I told my guy. "I think this is my bike."
I picked out a gel seat and pedals that allow you to ride either with bike shoes or without. They're going to put those on the bike for me, swapping them out for the factory-installed ones. Even with the seat and pedals, the total came to almost four hundred dollars less than the other bikes I'd seen. I was pretty pleased.