You Say Coke, I Say Caine

Tara and I bought new bicycles over the weekend.

I hadn’t been bike shopping in a long time, so I was a bit surprised by how much had changed. (And by “how much,” I mainly mean price. These things ain’t cheap)! What can I say? I own a ten-year old Huffy. I’m hardly a two-wheel connoisseur, and considering the fact that Portland is sometimes referred to as America’s Bicycle Capital, this puts me squarely at odds with much of the populace.


When I first decided it was time for a new bike, I figured I’d find a decent one for oh, let’s say a hundred bucks or so.

If you look up the word “delusional” in the dictionary, you’ll find a picture of me.


The first thing I learned was, a good bike can set you back thousands of dollars. This was news to me! I assumed there had been some sort of technological revolution and bicycle manufacturers had added features like motors and roofs and doors, but then I realized those things already exist and are called cars. Seriously, who pays that much money for something that has a bell and a banana seat?

“The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine.”

The second thing I learned was, bikes no longer have bells and banana seats. Instead, they’ve got Shimano shifters and carbon cranksets and front-suspension forks and dual position hydraulic disc brakes. Hell, even the pedals are described as “Sirrus, 1.5mm Varus angle, nylon body, symmetric alloy cage, low profile bearing system, toe clip capable” on one website I was looking at.

You can’t just buy “a bike,” either. Nowadays you have to choose between various types of bicycles. There are road bikes, mountain bikes, comfort/hybrid bikes, utility bikes, cruisers, Cyclocross bikes, fixed-gear bikes, and so forth and so on. When I was a teenager, there were kid’s bikes and ten-speeds, and that was pretty much it.

Suddenly, I had to do actual research, and the whole bicycle-buying experience went from “fun” to “work.” But I did my due diligence anyway, and decided I wanted a hybrid bike. It seemed like the best of both worlds: a compromise between a mountain bike and a comfort bike, with a lightweight aluminum frame, upright sitting position, and medium gauge wheels. Hybrids are made primarily for paved roads but can also handle dirt trails. I also decided I did not want to spend thousands of dollars, which meant I was shopping for a Schwinn instead of a Specialized.

After checking out no fewer than six or seven retail outlets, I finally found what I was looking for: a Schwinn Trailways Hybrid/Comfort bike with 28″/700c tires, front suspension, spring-loaded cushioned vinyl seat, 21 gears, and a bunch of other specs that mean nothing to me but that I’m sure are impressive. Best of all, it only set me back $249.99. (Funny how I now consider that inexpensive for a bike. A month ago, it would have made me cringe).

“It’s the first machine we master as children and the one we abandon when the seductions of the automobile take over.”

Tara chose an aqua blue, vintage-looking 26″ Schwinn Delmar Cruiser. Not only is it totally retro, it’s really comfortable, too. Most Cruisers have only a single gear (no shifting required) and come with curved handlebars, padded seats, balloon tires, and coaster brakes. Hers cost less than mine. Well played, wife of mine. Well played, indeed!

So now I guess we are “bicyclists,” whatever that means exactly. We went out for a ride last night after dinner, and are even talking about commuting to work by bike now. Once in awhile, anyway. Maybe. You know how they say “it’s as easy as riding a bike”? That makes me laugh. Because figuring out gears, pedaling against the wind, and having to deal with that little seat are not exactly easy. At least not when you haven’t ridden a bike in years.

Why did the banana seat disappear, anyway? My first real bike back in the 70s had one, and that thing was comfortable. I’d be okay with bringing it back in style. I’m just sayin’.

Learning curve aside, I have to admit, riding the bike is fun! I’m glad I took the plunge.

Anybody want to buy a used Huffy?


Our new bikes.
Our new bikes.

Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

14 thoughts on “You Say Coke, I Say Caine

  1. OMG…..Tara bought the adult version of my bike! I love it! I’ve been having a blast on my new bike. But seriously, Mark……how are you going to stand that seat?

    My friend bought a Townie, if you know what that is. You should see how many old timers flock to that bike when we park somewhere!


    1. I have heard of Townies, yes. I love that bike manufacturers are moving in the direction of the retro look lately. Tara got a bunch of stares just wheeling her bike out of Target.


  2. You can thank all of those tour de coconut butts for the disappearance of the banana seat! We have an on again off again enthusiasm for bike riding. My husband purchased a cruiser a couple of years ago during one of our “on again” phases. Yeah, he’s been on it three times! Happy trails.


    1. I’m hoping we ride these things pretty regularly. Then again, once November rolls around, it’s dark before work, dark after work, and usually raining in between. We’ll probably have to keep our kickstands down more than up during that time of year.


  3. Expensive is right! My husband just bought a fancy mountain bike for almost $4k…I know nothing about it-except it cost more than a lot of cars we’ve owned. I really like Tara’s bike! It’s so cute!


    1. Daaammmnnn! That’s a serious investment. My Huffy is a mountain bike, but I never took it anywhere near the mountains. If I paid that kind of money for one, I think I’d have to move to a cabin in the woods just on general principle.


  4. Mark, the title of this post is HILARIOUS! You crack me the hell up, man!

    Hey, GREAT-looking new bikes!

    God, I haven’t had a bike since I was in my teens, so I have no idea what they presently cost. My first bike was a Schwinn as well. It was black. New. And think it cost my parents maybe $50.00!? And back then, in the 60’s, that seemed like SUCH a lot of money for a bike.

    Congrats on your new set of wheels! Happy trails to you and Tara!


    1. Thanks, Ron. You would not believe the discussion Tara and I had on the title of this post. She thought the reference was way too obscure. I said, that’s why I like it! Even if nobody else “gets” it, I do. Hence, it’s perfect!

      Schwinn has been around for something like 120 years, so I’m confident they know a thing or two about bikes.


  5. I love Tara’s bike. This is what I want and am considering getting. I have heard there are trails here in Dallas, but 100 degrees and bike riding don’t seem to me a good match.


  6. This is on my bucket list! The boy and I are always looking for ways to stay active and I want to take up riding a bike. But as you say, it is pricey! I don’t love forking out money just to tire myself out.


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