There is nothing that makes me happier than being back home in Upstate New York. But the one thing that always sucks is that when I visit Upstate, I’m never able to take my bicycle because it’s not allowed on the train during afternoon rush hour. I’ve been trying to figure out which bike to add to the family in 2014 because I will soon be in a position to buy a nice new bike. At first, I was thinking about getting a roadie because I would like to participate in RAGBRAI and triathlons.
Yet common sense won out on me. Yeah, it would be great to finally own a roadie, but that’s not going to solve my problem of not being able to ride a bike when I visit upstate. While I’ve had extremely kind offers from my friends who let me borrow their bicycles while I’m in the 518, it makes things a little awkward because it means that they can’t ride with me and then you have to make plans of when to pick up and return the bike. At my parents’ house, everyone is taller than me so borrowing a bike is not an option.
I’ve always heard amazing things about Brompton bicycles. They are folding bicycles, and while they may look like a toy, they are extremely durable. The writer of my favorite cycling blog, Lovely Bicycle, sold me on them when I read about her adventures cycling through Ireland and speaking the praises of how well it handled the terrain.
Riding in Upstate New York is not a one size fits all experience. I grew up riding mountain bikes because of the hilly terrain near my parents’ house and it wasn’t until I moved to Albany that I saw while my mountain bike was more than capable of getting me from point A to point B, it wasn’t as fun as riding my ex-boyfriend’s hybrid, which was much faster. Even though I was able to build up the muscle mass in my legs and endurance to keep pace with him, I wanted to ride something that was zippy in the city but still capable of absorbing the shock of hilly terrain of rural New York. In 2012, I purchased a Raleigh Alysa FT2 and I’m so happy with it. It fits all of my needs, except the ability to travel with it.
I refuse to let another summer go by without riding Upstate again. Brompton’s website lets you build a bike to your specifications, which I am a huge fan of because I’m really picky when it comes to the specifications of my ride since I need it to handle diverse terrain.
The bike, when built, will actually be 24.2 pounds. The travel bag adds 5 pounds bringing the total carrying weight to 30 pounds. While the price is steep at $1751, excluding tax, I see buying bicycles as a lifetime investment. As long as you take great care of your bike and ensure that your renter’s insurance will cover it if stolen, you won’t need to buy another bike again unless you want to. After I buy my road bike in 2015, I think I’m done for buying bicycles. I also don’t own a car anymore, and considering that I used to pay $1,800 a year for car insurance in Upstate NY, I don’t see it as a major cash setback.
I will be purchasing the Brompton at Downtube Bicycle Works in Albany. I can’t speak enough about the service at Downtube. They are so nice and truly make an effort to know their customers. I promised that I would buy a bicycle from them. When I purchased my Raleigh in 2012, I was working on a campaign in Florida and while it was an absolute pleasure working with the great folks at J&S Cyclery in Melbourne, Florida, I felt really weird about not getting it from Downtube. I purposely made the colors red, white, and black because I love The White Stripes and they happen to be the colors of SUNY Oneonta, my undergraduate college, and Rutgers University, where I am a MPA candidate. The bike’s name will be Erastus, after Erastus Corning, who was the Mayor of Albany for 42 years and is the namesake of my favorite bike path in Albany. The Corning Preserve may be 9 miles, but it gets the job done if you’re looking to get a quick ride in and leads to the gorgeous Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail.
I haven’t wrote a blog post in a long time but it felt really good to concentrate on this instead of writing a quick Facebook post. I still can’t truly define the purpose of this space, but it feels great to devote 1,000 words to something that is not academic.