Keith Snyder
Door always open.

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In October or November, I was riding home from Long Island City, and my rear wheel felt wobbly. I stopped at the bike shop. They were closing and their mechanic was out sick. They said to come back tomorrow.

In December, I finally found a spare hour and walked it over.

They were closed.

In January, I found another spare hour, and called to make sure they were open before walking it over.

No answer.

In February, I stumbled over another unexpected hour and started walking it before I'd even called. I called on the way. They were only there for 20 minutes because they were sick.

Yes, they'd wait for me. But I think a "You've got to be kidding me" slipped out before that became clear.

Diagnosis: Broken axle. The only thing holding the wheel on was the quick-release. I picked it up a week ago. But now I'm working a new job, and not bike-commuting.

I'm now 15 pounds heavier than I was in November.

Well, okay, it's not 15. It's 10. But because I lost all my bicycling muscle, it might as well be 15. Yesterday and today, I came up with two possible ways to resume commuting:
  1. Pay for a bike parking space in Manhattan
  2. Buy a folding bike and keep it under my desk
My main concern isn't actually logistics; it's whether this is too soon at the new job for me to advertise myself as an eccentric. Walking into an office out of rain or snow, wearing street-spattered tights and a helmet with a blinky light on it, doesn't project quite the same image as simply showing up in a pressed shirt and looking like the guy who can handle whatever they throw at you.

A few months ago, I signed up for another century ride in May, and I bought some ankle weights because last year's training strategy (tossing a couple of barbells into my panniers) resulted in a dozen broken spokes over a two-month period. And they were the extra-strong spokes I'd had the local bike shop replace the stock ones with when it became clear previously that I was overloading my panniers. I'd rather spend $60 than clean them out.

If I'm going to actually do that century ride, I have to get started again now. My old commute was 5.5 miles each way. This one starts out on that same route, but when I get to Long Island City, instead of stopping, I head out over the Queensboro Bridge, and then spend another 3 miles screaming at taxicabs in the city. Old round trip: 11 miles. New round trip: 18 miles and change.

I like 18 miles and change. It's a pleasant figure. I figure it'll take about the same time each way as the subway commute: An hour. But now I have to figure out how to visit the supposedly bicycle-friendly parking garage I found online, which costs $206/month. The visit will probably entail overtime to the babysitter and missing an evening with my boys, and who knows if the online information is even accurate? And it may only be a temporary solution: I don't know whether I'll still be working at this location after March. So rather than spend $600 on a folding bike, carrying case, and accessories now, I'll drop two bills, try not to wince about it, remind myself I'm saving $80 in subway fares, and worry about longer-term solutions when April comes.

This will all be taken care of tomorrow. That's the theory. Pretty, isn't it?

I'll be very happy and surprised if I'm breaking my butt in again by next week.

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