After a crazy few weeks, between my wonderful trip to Ireland and my terrible dealings with my old mechanic, I was both feeling like a ride would do me some good and feeling like I had seen enough of biking to last me a few weeks, if not several months.
However, duty calls! I knew I just had to abandon my children to The Amazing Man I Live With and go for a ride, or I’d be neglecting my 12 Loyal Readers (sort of like 12 Angry Men, only not angry). There’s nothing like “I have to please My People!” to serve as an excuse to get out of the house for a bit.
Given that my lungs are still only partially functional after my bronchitis, and my time was limited, I decided to stick with that old standard, the Cedar River Trail. I didn’t want to leave My Darling Guy alone with the three kids for long. Though he is an excellent dad and wonderful partner, he is a Guy with a capital G. Strange, sticky spills occur when he’s allowed to supervise anything for too long (oh, get your minds out of the gutter. I don’t mean it like that). This is the man who once related the following story to me: “I had the hardest day today. I ran into the house to get something and the girls managed to get spray candy all over the car while I was gone.” Now, as a woman, several questions naturally arose for me from this narrative: 1. You bought The Girls spray candy? 2. You let them open the spray candy in the car? 3. You left them alone with the spray candy in the car? 4. They actually make spray candy? But as a Guy, he just didn’t anticipate this disaster. So you can see why I didn’t want to be gone any longer than I had to be.
The sun was low in the sky by the time I worked up the energy to head out the door (to be fair, The Above-Mentioned Guy practically shoved me out of said door to give me a break after a record ten days in a row taking care of my beloved child all day, all the while dying of Terrible Bronchial Distress). This low light makes taking pictures more difficult, but when they come out, they have a certain magical quality that only happens in the evening.
Yep, that’s The Viva you see there. This bike is so lovely that after a month of riding ugly and/or dirty, broken bikes (sorry, Raleigh, but it’s true), I found myself eagerly gazing at my beautiful cream beast of a bike. Though lifting it onto my car rack almost gave me pause in my plan.
The Viva is actually prettier than it is comfy, I have to admit. Like a beautiful pair of shoes that are just slightly too tall to really be practical, this bike keeps seducing me with its looks and then disappointing me with its performance. It’s very, very heavy. Did I mention how heavy it is? And I’ve decided that I don’t really like the albatross-style handlebar width. I feel like I’m riding with my hands up on a table. I might try rolling them down slightly to see if this helps, but I don’t know how adjustable the handlebars actually are, given this bike’s geometry. I’ll have to fiddle with this when I feel more up to that sort of fine-tuning. Perhaps slight adjustments will help to compensate for the weighty feeling as I ride.
That said, once I get going and stop comparing The Viva to the far more sprightly Raleigh in my head, it’s not a bad bike to ride. If I lived somewhere really flat, and I didn’t know how glorious The Raleigh is to ride, I think I’d find this bike perfectly adequate — perhaps even exciting. It has a mellow smoothness (listen to me: I sound like I’m describing a good Colombian coffee) that is a pleasant change from the “roadiness” of The Raleigh’s rattling. Those Fat Franks just absorb road noise like nobody’s business. I could roll over a live mouse and not even feel the bump.
And frankly, every time I stop, someone comments on how gorgeous this bike is and I get that flush of satisfaction that comes from owning something others envy.
The Cedar River Trail has a splendid late summer feel right now, from the plump red-orange hips on the rose bushes along the highway…
… to the folks tubing in the warm evenings on the river’s easy flow.
Note that the dog has his own tube, as he should.
While I love photographing The Raleigh, The Viva is sort of a show-pony, isn’t it?
Did I mention that I bought a wee tripod, and that’s vastly increased my ability to take clear photos in low light? Here’s a rather ponderous self-portrait.
Must think more about “elegant feet” next time.
Once I’d ridden about five and a half miles, I realized that two things were true: first, I was truly tired, and second, I needed to get home before we ended up with half a 2-liter bottle of Coke mysteriously spilled behind the couch or something. Before I left for Ireland, and acquired The Evil Lung Disease From H-E-Double-Chopsticks, I wasn’t content to ride less than 20 miles, but all that has changed. I just needed to get home and rest. So, eleven miles it was (round trip).
One last salient point to note here: The Viva has a new tail-light. A Spanninga SPX that Dutch Bike attached to the rear fender. It works rather well. As it is not their more expensive, dainty “Pixeo,” it fits the gargantuanness of The Viva rather well, I think.
I find the light perfectly adequate for my needs, though if I were commuting, I think I’d want both brighter light, and a “flashing” feature, which this model doesn’t have. As it is, I don’t mind the steady glow, and I don’t really ride in the dark or on city streets much anyway. I think it’s a big improvement over the reflector that was there before, in terms of safety, and the looks aren’t bad at all either.
Before I ride it again, I think I’m going to try to adjust this bike to fit me better. I’ll keep you all posted.
Next up: The Boy and I visit the Velodrome! Stay tuned…