"Right." said Fred

A new bicycle shop opened in Philadelphia, Performance Bike, on Columbus Avenue at Reed Street. The weather today was kind of iffy, I wasn't sure that I could get in much of a ride. Instead I opted to make it a more useful day by shopping for a gym and some new bike gear. I checked out a gym in my area, getting in a tiny workout on some of the exercise machines. Loath as I am to spend money on a gym, I know I have to join one and start training NOW for the triathlon. I have 4 1/2 months to get ready for this insanity so I have to make each day count. I'm fairly certain I'll join this gym, it's convenient to my neighborhood and the hours are flexible. Plus, it has a pool - a small one that will suffice for getting myself ready to swim half a mile downstream in the Schuylkill River. AGH! What the heck have I gotten myself into? Swimming in the Schuylkill? Running 3.1 miles? The only part of this triathlon I am sort of capable of completing is the 15 mile loop around the Art Museum, and that takes me an hour now. I've got to shave off at least 15 minutes off my riding time just to be sure I'm not dead friggin' last in this race.
After my moderate success with my gym shopping, I rode down to Performance Bike, where I found it difficult not to become a total Fred - a person who buys all kinds of cycling gear and looks the part of an avid rider but is in fact, a phony. There are quite a few Freds pedaling around town. It's hard not to get a little gear-envy when I see gorgeous clothes and helmets, cool team jerseys and jackets, nifty shoes and tricked out bikes with the latest bags, GPS and odometers. Are these folks actually riding or just posing for the JCrew version of a bicycle fashion spread? Susan Hill and I were riding hard trails Friday, and we didn't need much more than muscle, determination and our helmets to keep our noggins from getting jostled. What does having a bike full of bags and gadgets have to do with exercise? The bicycle magazines, as a lot of consumer publications do, push the feeling that you need to have this stuff in order to be a better bicyclist. My wallet just can't justify the expensiveness the hobby. Most of the time I do see how impractical all of this "stuff" is. I have one body, one head, one pair of arms and legs, etc that can accommodate one article of clothing helmet at a time. I sometimes get so caught up in wanting to look the part of a bike rider, that I'm not riding enough. It's hard not to succumb to my baser consumer urges. To satiate this hunger, I trolled the bike shop for about an hour, eyeing up all the new bikes on the block, inhaling the heady scent of new rubber tires. I innocently fondled pumps and tools, and I felt compelled to costume myself in a new pair of tight bike shorts and a sexy jersey. It was bicycle therapy, allowing me to role play in order to develop my skills as a cyclist and see where I "fit". Playing in the bike toy store worked, I could fantasise about what I want and buy what I actually need. My list of need to have bike gear items is reasonably small and it won't turn me into a poor Fred. I bought some reasonably priced items - a new well-fitting helmet; sunglasses with changeable lenses for different lighting conditions; lights for when I ride in the dark. Absolutely necessary items for my safety and well-being. As my friend, Susan, reminded me on Friday, you just don't need most of this stuff, just get out and ride. She's so right. I don't want to be a Fred.


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