As we were heading toward home from our ride Saturday morning, and both of us were wincing due to significant pain in the rear from our bike seats, Richard said "Do you think we might want to get better seats before tomorrow?" And considering what we have planned tomorrow, I agreed.
We rode again this morning, striking out on a few of the back roads around our town. We saw hot air balloons in the sky, which helped to distract us from the fact that it was getting a bit windy (as usual), and also from the fact that our butts were killing us. We then made plans to go to the local bike shop after lunch in search of new seats.
The bike shop in town was closed, so we got both bikes onto the rack on Richard's car (bike racks, I might point out, are not built to handle women’s bikes, so loading my bike is always a feat of physics and faith) and headed off to Davis. We walked in, wheeling our cheap little Wal-Mart bikes amid the rows of more expensive varieties and the sales guy took us back to the bike seats. He pulled down a pair of strange looking seats from the wall for us to examine. They were hard and didn't look at all comfortable, but they came with cutouts in the middle that he swore would conform to our sitting anatomy. Since the biking books we've both been reading suggest that all avid cyclists will eventually need this sort of contraption, we shrugged and agreed to try them out. He took our bikes to the back to put the seats on so we could see how they felt, and we began to wander the shop, for lack of anything better to do. This, of course, was our downfall.
We only went in there for bike seats, I swear. We had no intention of getting anything else. The problem was, we started wandering among the rows of bikes and I made the mistake of mentioning out loud that these things were a *lot* less expensive than I had been expecting. Richard looked at me. I looked at him. And then we both zipped back to the back of the store and said "uh - before you put those seats on...."
Richard's is an aluminum frame, and bright silver. Mine is a blue-gray, steel framed and so a bit heavier, but I prefer the control to the weight issue anyway. The tires are slightly larger and thinner than our cheapo bikes, and there are 21 gears instead of 15 - gears which switch with a mere touch of the thumb instead of having to figure out the exact combination of clicks on both sides in order to avoid the chain falling off. The wheels pop off with a flip of a lever (as does the seat). The brakes don't squeak. The seat is soft and squishy and conforms nicely to my sitting anatomy (we did try out the ergonomically correct ones, but we both liked the squishy seats better). We test-drove the bikes up and down the street outside the store. The sales guy didn’t have to do any selling at all. They were ours the moment he took them down for us to touch.
Hedwig (mine) and Norbert (Richard’s) are sitting downstairs in the garage now, waiting tomorrow’s big ride (yes we *are* Harry Potter fans. Why do you ask?). We took them out for a quick five-mile spin this evening because we were so excited, but only after we hooked up the odometers because I am all about the miles.
I am blown away by how much nicer the ride is. I never expected that there could be such a difference. We can’t stop gushing about our new bikes. I think we’re in love.