On the road again, with a bicycle: Where green is the new black

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A glam shot, before the mud and rain and salt water turn it into a real mean green machine. Taken on the way home from picking up my new bicycle at Costillo's Hardware, the place where we bought similar bikes two and a half years agoo.
A glam shot, before the mud and rain and salt water turn it into a real mean green machine. Taken on the way home from picking up my new bicycle at Castillo’s Hardware, the place where we bought similar bikes two-and-a-half years ago.

It was time.

I’ve been waiting since March for Mario to return my bicycle and here it is mid-July.  I don’t think it’s coming back.

Not that I was expecting to see it again.

Mario used to work for the complex where we live. When he started showing up for work on foot I was kind of surprised and concerned. I knew that he lived over behind the airport and that is a bit of a hike to be taking twice a day.

It turns out that his bike frame had rusted in half.

Posing like an impertinent show pony, the Big Green Machine shows a coy side.
Posing like an impertinent show pony, the Big Green Machine shows a coy side.

It happens a lot. We’re an island surrounded by salt water. Nothing metallic survives for long. Walk down most any road and you can count the number of rusty broken bike chains, coiled like withered snakes off to the side. They rust. They snap. They drop off and are abandoned.

You see a lot of the especially on either side of the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge, a modest grade but the steepest on the island, demanding just enough exertion to bring a corroded chain to the snapping point.

Calvio’s — conveniently located just south of  the bridge — can throw a new one on your bike in under 10 minutes for about $15. I wasn’t the first person to snap atop the bridge and coast down to the bike repair shop for a new chain.

Rust, and its evil twin, mold, are your enemies.

Even inside homes, rust settles like the morning dew on the most-delicate components inside computers, telephones, toasters, televisions, light fixtures and cameras. Unprotected, they can go dead in a matter of months. I recently bought a water- and dust-proof camera because I thought it might last a few months longer than a traditional one. We’ll see.

Back when I loaned my bike to Mario, I was recovering from surgery and knew it would be months before I’d be pedaling again. Better that he get to use it than watch it sit and rust like some kind of avant-garde art project.

Then Mario got fired.

And he was gone. With the bike.

“OK,” I reasoned. “He’s going to need that bike to find a new job and get himself re-established. Let it go.” Despite the insane explosion of golf carts and vehicles on this island, most people still bike or walk to work.

Besides, we have Old Moncho’s 59 to get us where we need to go.

I ran into Mario in early June. He was walking. He still has the bike and he’ll get it back to me, he assured me immediately, and without any prompting. I assured him that wasn’t foremost on my mind.

Last month, obviously feeling much healthier,  I began window shopping for a new bike. While the cheap and clunky Chinese beach cruisers still dominate the hardware store showrooms, more and more, a Huffy hybrid mountain bike is showing up like the most muscular puppy in a new brood. And I reveled in the prospect of riding something on which you actually change gears.

For about a minute. (How much revel can a guy take?)

Who on the island can fix a 12-speed bike, I wondered? And what would I do with all those gears? This island is the flattest thing since pancakes.

It also occurred to me that a basket would look pretty silly on a mountain bike. And you need a basket. More than you need gears.

The main point is, I missed riding a bicycle. Golf carts aren’t all that much fun here. Not any more. Traffic is nuts and maintaining one of these bolt buckets is even nuttier. A bike is healthier, saner and not so expensive to fix. (This is not to say I am rejecting Moncho 59. Far from it. I love the beast, in my own way and cherish its companionship while driving home on many a dark and stormy night.

So, I decided to go with China’s finest: the traditional Golden Cycle Hurricane, base price $298 BZD.

Business kept taking me back to Castillo’s Hardware, the place where Rose and I bought our first bikes. (She is still riding her’s, by the way — refurbished once or twice by the grease-daubed techs at Calvio’s.)  Bikes seem to move in and out of Castillo’s rapidly. Twice last month I saw grinning Dads carry out shiny new miniature Golden Cycles for their big-eyed tykes. Complete with training wheels.

For the last month or so, I’d joked with Karla, the store’s bike tech, about how close I was to buying one. Every time I walked in, she would ask, “Is today the day?”

“Almost there, Karla!” I’d reply. “Have you got black?”

“Sure thing,” she’d say. “Just say when.”

Last week there was a stack of bicycle boxes in front of Castillo’s, looking like a deck of giant playing cards.

“New shipment of bikes?” I asked.

“Yes, Mr. Bob.” said Karla. “Are you ready?”

“Almost.”

The next day, it looked like Christmas in the bike section. There was a sleek Huffy mountain bike — with gears! And a Huffy beach bike with enormous tires, a butterscotch-colored frame, a cute little basket and a cup holder! And an assortment of the old standby men’s, women’s and kids’ Hurricanes in reds and silvers and greens.

Out back were about a dozen bikes still in boxes, waiting to be assembled.

“I think I’m ready for that black bike, Karla.”

“OK, Mr. Bob. A 26-inch, right?”

We walked back to the cartons where Karla studiously check the packaging labels.

She stood up. And smiled slyly.

“OK, Mr. Bob. Do want green, red or silver?”

“Not black?”

“Not black.”

I wanted black for a reason. In bicycles, I crave the anonymity black gives you. It is just like the scores of other bicycles sitting out in the bike racks all over San Pedro.

A bright colored bicycle? To me that just says, “Steal me.” And lately, that has been a huge problem. Proportional to the rise in bolt cutters, I imagine. A hard working young man I know just went through two used bicycles in less than a week. The first he left unlocked for an hour. The second …  the lock was cut through like it was butter.

The other reason is that as an intrinsically shy person, I try very hard not to stand out in any social situation. I get referred to as “Mr. Rose” if not completely ignored. Most everything I own is a muted shade of blue. I’m not the life of the party. And you’ll never see me leading the parade. Black just blends, in my mind.

So. Not black?

“Not black.”

And that is how I ended up with a green-framed bicycle ($298), with chrome alloy bumpers ($25) and a gray plastic-coated basket ($35) on the front. And a Bell lock & cable ($22). Um, plus tax. It all came out to about $207 USD, not so bad for my main mode of transportation.

A friend who saw the mean green machine immediately offered this observation: “Well, if it gets stolen, it sure is going to stick out.”

Real helpful.

Oh, well. A few days of rain and mud and it is going to look like every other bike on the island.

Just a brighter shade of green in places.

 

 

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14 thoughts on “On the road again, with a bicycle: Where green is the new black

    tacogirl said:
    July 14, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    Good looking bike. If you like high handlebars for a more upright ride, Harmouche sells them.

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 14, 2016 at 4:26 pm

      Thanks, Laurie. I’ll check on them. I think they would be a good addition for a 6’2″ guy!

      Like

    Emily said:
    July 14, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    I like your new bike! Always partial to green — or blue! I have never, ever wanted a black bike as it just seems way too boring. Then again, I am a gurl. 🙂 I hope your bike never gets stolen. We made it for 18 months with neither of ours being stolen, but we were lucky. Ours were both a darker shade of blue, so not too flashy.

    Liked by 1 person

    Susan said:
    July 14, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    I remember one of the first posts of yours I ever read, it was about you going to get water on your old rusty bike! You had me laughing out loud reading it. You’ve come a long way baby!

    Liked by 1 person

    woof4treats said:
    July 14, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    After getting my shopping tote stolen last week wonder what my odds are on a new bike? Luckily we have an outside storage closet. Love the color. Last look I would have been stuck with buying “Pink”.

    Like

    Gerry said:
    July 14, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    Come ride that green machine with us Saturday July 23rd. Please check, milesformarcie.com for more information. We will be starting at W.O.D. cross fit in SanPedro behind Island city, riding north to end of payment and back. time to be determined. It cost nothing to participate. The ride is created in the memory of my wife Marcie. She got to enjoy 15months on this beautiful island before being diagnosed with brain cancer (GBM) . I have friends riding all over the States to bring awareness and hope for a cure to a very nasty disease. We have met more then once and know a few of the same people. Hope to see you there. I will update you in a few days, when starting time is determined. Rose and all your your friends are invited too.

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 14, 2016 at 8:51 pm

      Thank you, Gerry. It will be an honor to ride with you. See you July 23. Thanks for letting us know!

      Like

        Gerry said:
        July 14, 2016 at 8:53 pm

        I look forward to that.

        Like

    Dawna Roy said:
    July 15, 2016 at 5:56 am

    Hi Robert- I like your new bike! I am not sure if you remember me or not but I was the woman Rose and you met at the Pirate Bar when you first arrived to San Pedro. I had just bought a new bike and it was stolen the very next day. I am coming down on the 28th for 1 week to look at property and would love meet Rose and you for a drink and hear more of your life in San Pedro since I am considering the move myself.
    Thanks for your blog it keeps me in touch with island life- cheers Dawna

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 15, 2016 at 6:29 am

      Hi Dawna,
      I remember the bike and talking about your cabinetry business in Canada! You will not recognize the old Pirates Cove when you see it! Let us know when you arrive!

      Like

    Dawna Roy said:
    July 15, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    Just sold the cabinetry business and real estate that went with it! Now its time to make the move to San Pedro. I will reach out when I get into town- cheers!

    Like

    Gerry said:
    July 17, 2016 at 6:03 am

    9:00 am Saturday July 23rd. W.O.D. ZONE. I believe you are familiar, it’s next door to Zen Arcade. Look forward to seeing you there.

    Like

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