Back on Track

I recently got back on the bike path and it felt like, whatdaef took me so long?!
 
I was supposed to be back to the Philippines, but life happened so I’m still in Taiwan as of typing this. It was a long winding serious decision, and part of the decision-making process made me say goodbye to biking. Since I thought I wouldn’t be able to bike in Pinas as much as I do here, I decided to sell my foldie before leaving Taiwan for good. Besides, I thought I could do with public YouBikes if I’d really need a bike while outside.
 

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And a friend’s hand-me-down utility bike might be enough if I need to carry heavy stuff or just go from one point to another on a bike.
 
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But recently, and I suspect it’s because sweltering summer’s ending, I’m seeing lots of bikers, speeding along the roads and sidewalks in full bike gear, or heaven help me, waiting by the traffic lights beside me. It’s like a non-verbal cue of what could’ve been if I choose to relive my cycling days. God, I missed that pumped-up feeling and focus you get from biking. If you’re a biking afficionado riding for the journey and experience, you will know that a 3-speed bike nor a utility bike won’t suffice.
 
So one fateful Sunday, I decided to forego reasons plus the paranoia of leaving a bike locked outside, and went with my heart. *cue some teledrama music* I ended up with a new bike and paved a new beginning in this biking life. Meet Grace Kellys.
 
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I know this sounds weird but I get the same feeling as I do in bookstores when I’m confronted by rows upon rows of bicycles–it’s an excited kind of calm, it’s probably what world peace feels like. Haha. I know what I want and I rely on gut feel. I’m more practical than technical and I ask lots of questions. I consider myself a leisure biker, definitely amateur, so I guess my purpose reflects my bike choices. I never buy anything that I didn’t personally get to test first.
 
Here’s my shortlist whenever I check out and consider buying a bike. Please note that these are based from my experience, which is pretty much amateur, and they aren’t pro advice. Might help you too anyway, if you’re a beginner:
 
1. Price shouldn’t exceed 15,000 NTD – I don’t see myself spending more than that amount because (1) there are bike discounts here in Taiwan and (2) I’m not going to go on a bike race or marathon. My most expensive bike so far was my Merida foldie, which I got for 10,000 NTD.
 
2. Bike must have a step-through frame – Most bikes for women are made with this type of frame. You’d know it’s a step-through frame when the cross-bar is almost perpendicular or slanted as the down tube. I’m not sure why most men’s bikes don’t use this. I mean, they have bulkier stuff to protect, don’t they? Or maybe not? Haha (trails off awkwardly…)
 
3. Get a headlight and a tail light – I often bike ’til the sun sets, and I love night-time biking because Taipei’s riverside bike paths lit up amazingly with colorful dancing LEDs. I choose a tail light that could be lit either steadily or blinkingly and I often set it to the latter while biking on roads or pedestrian lanes for better night-time visibility.
 
4. Make sure the shifters and derailleur are from Shimano. – If you go on long rides (10 km minimum) or bike on slightly elevated areas, shifting gears would be a godsend. I think any biker can live with an 8-speed bike excellently if the gears are from Shimano. This brand is top-grade and I’ve encountered lots of chain/crankset mishaps that made me realize it’s the real deal. When you’re in the middle of nowhere, with a faulty bike chain, your shifters and derailleur would safely guide you home.
 
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5. Get a water bottle holder – A bike’s fuel is water, and its motor and tank is none other than you. You’ll need at least a 300 ml arsenal of water out on a 5 km ride. Since every bike frame’s got a couple of holes, or sometimes even two pairs, you can always conveniently attach a bottle holder to your bike.
 
6. Experience the saddle. – An easy way to distinguish a woman’s bike is via the saddle. It’s often wider and chunkier than its male counterpart. From my experience, the slimmer ones may look good and feel lighter but if you’re a woman with big thighs, your lower area will hate you for choosing it.
 
Seriously. Like you went through some hazing or something after biking for an hour, especially if you’re just starting to bike. A good saddle doesn’t uncomfortably poke around your sit-bone. Also, take note of how it fits and slides between your legs. I mount/dismount a saddle while testing the bike to see how comfy and limber it lets me be.
 
7. Buy a bike helmet! – With those things in mind, I picked Grace Kellys. This time, I decided to go for a hybrid bike (in between a city bike and a mountain bike) because I discovered it’s got something essential for me—front suspensions. While foldie bikes may be nimbler and easier to take anywhere, and a utility bike fitted with a basket for loading anything that fits it, both can be a bumpy ride on unpaved roads. Suspensions make me feel that life is beautiful, even while traveling on stones and rocky roads. It also helps me save lives as I choose to jump off a sidewalk rather than run over a pedestrian so engrossed with their smartphone. Heavy-duty suspensions are found on most mountain/hybrid bikes.
 
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There really is nothing better than being able to relish the experience of biking along the rivers here in Taipei. They just beg to be visited and they are smartly interconnected that you can bike to New Taipei or Taoyuan in less than 12 hours. And back, if you’re that much of an adventurista. If you love biking, it’s just one of those things that you MUST experience while here.
 
Plus, I guess you can always take the bike out of the biker, but you can never take the biker out of the bike…huh? Well, yeah. Something like that.
 
And views like these are just too damn hard to resist revisiting.
 
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