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Old 04-01-07, 10:29 PM   #1
planetary
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A bit of Amsterdam in Silicon Valley

Hey, everybody.

My employer recently put out a bunch of cruiser bicycles for us all to ride around the campus. Nothing expensive -- just simple single-speed Huffies with baskets (large enough to hold laptops and small bags) on the front and those thin white flexible poles with triangular orange flags. However, I've been riding them for the last week, and it's been amazingly fun.

I went to college at UC Davis in the early 90s, and biking was by far my primary mode of transportation. The bike was... hell, I don't know. Something cheap, heavy, probably a mountain bike/road bike hybrid thing. I was never an enthusiast, and I'm still not. I remember getting this first bike. I just went into a bike shop, found something that looked good in my price range, and rode off. Thousands of other students did, too. I rode it almost every day for 5 years, and then got into my car and drove to silicon valley, and hadn't been on a bike since.

...So when I was riding around Mountain View, CA on the corporate cruisers, I had a reaction which really reminded me of those halcyon days, when I was in better shape. I've been riding these bikes every day. Come the weekends, I was *missing* riding around to get coffee, to go on errands, and to get exercise.

I consulted a couple trusted, non-fanatical rider friends, and told them what I was looking for -- something not too fancy, not too expensive, something suitable for riding around town, and, above all, something fun! I got a few recommendations which steered me toward the Electra Townie. The price was right, and the feature set, better-than-base quality level, and flat foot design, looked (on the web) like just my style.

Then I started reading about the Electra Amsterdam. The whole package was brilliant, and after reading everything I could about it, I felt compelled to go into a shop and take a look. I walked out having bought one. The appearance & details were less cool and more cultured, than the Townie, but it was the feel of the bike that really sold me. It just made me feel at ease and totally comfortable. Should be here on Wednesday!

Long story short: for the first time, I'm really excited about a bicycle!

Anyway, that's my story. Hey, everybody! ;-)
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Old 04-01-07, 11:57 PM   #2
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Excellent! Those Amsterdams are a lot of fun to ride. You'll find info. about bikes like these split between a bunch of forums. Try Commuting, Recreational & Family, and General. Classic & Vintage has quite a bit on the bikes that are the "ancestors" of the Electra Amsterdam. Although long, you might enjoy this thread. Welcome!
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Old 04-01-07, 11:58 PM   #3
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Hey, planetary! Nothing like a new bike to get you excited. I hope you recapture those Davis days.

Our daughter went to Davis and resisted getting a bike until her senior year. I let her "borrow" my Specialized Hard Rock because I wasn't riding it anymore (I found out that I'm not a mountain biking fan). Six months later it was stolen. She felt worse about it than I did -- it meant I didn't have to feel guilty for not riding it.

That's all changev now. Anyway, enjoy your new ride and welcome to BF!
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Old 04-02-07, 12:40 AM   #4
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Thanks, donnamb, for the forum pointers. This place seems great. The regional NorCal forum seems fairly active, but probably for people with harder cores than I. I'll still poke my nose in, though. :-)

Red Rider, Davis is a great little town. It seems a bit more strip mallish these days (and with a Division A football team, apparently... yeesh), but still very bike-friendly. I love how most of the campus is bike-only, how bike lanes are all around the town, and how even the downtown was friendly to cyclists. I used to listen to city hall meetings on community access television (yeah, yeah - total dork), and it seems like every year there was an attempt to seal off the downtown to be bike-only, just like the UC campus.

I remember stolen bikes being a problem for a lot of people. I guess it helps avoid the thieves if you're riding a piece of crap like I was. I don't know bikes that well, but I know enough to recognize the brand name of your daughter's bike. The deck was stacked against her! And, also: how she waited until senior year to get a bike I have *no* idea.

I have fond memories of riding my bike late at night, after working a long shift at the library, and feeling the cool, fresh breeze in my hair. You know, it was the weirdest thing... I hadn't remembered what cycling was like, hadn't thought about it for 12 years, and within 5 seconds of getting back on, it all came back to me in a flood. It was visceral. And here was this $150 Huffy that was actually not too bad (except, it kindasorta is, in comparison to the Electras and others I sampled). Not something I'd actually buy myself, but I realized that this *style* of bike is what I wish I had all along.
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Old 04-02-07, 01:35 AM   #5
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Part of my daughter's problem was that she was rejecting everything I did -- I was a fitness instructor/personal trainer for about 20 years. Until she saw the need to have a bike for transportation she wanted nothing to do with it.

Still, the bike I lent her was about $500, so others obviously saw the value. She had a decent lock; never anticipated anyone wanting that bike more than she.

I've moved on since then but I still love Davis -- the shops, the quaintness, the vets -- I like to think that whoever stole the bike needed it more than she.
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Old 04-02-07, 03:31 AM   #6
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planetary,
Welcome back to the fold Davis is an excellent cycling town and puts forth much more effort to keep it that way, more than I can say for a lot of cities I have been in. That Amsterdam is a beautiful bike! I am what I consider to be a utility/recreational cyclist. I ride to get places and just for the pure enjoyment of the ride. It sounds like you may have made your choices just in time for the rising gas prices... I hope you live close enough to work to be able to cycle commute Come join us in the Living Car Free forum, we aren't quite as radical as some of the others like A&S or Commuting (though good information can be found there too ) BTW you don't have to be car free to enjoy that forum, just be interested, working on it, or ??

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Old 04-02-07, 05:36 AM   #7
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Hello planetary, lots of folks have stopped by to say hello, and I'll just add my voice to the crowd. You don't have to be hard core to enjoy the Northern California regional forum, there's a lot of really nice folks over there, including more San Josers than I can count on two hands and feet .

Welcome to BF!

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Old 04-02-07, 06:16 AM   #8
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Many congrats from Ohio!

Boy can I relate to your story. It is fun to use a bike for transportation--especially one that is well equipped for it like the Amsterdam. I learned this as a kid and paperboy, but lost it in colleage with my 10-spped, which wasn't very practical.

Many congrats on your new bike--I hope you love it and rely upon it to get from point a to b as much as practical. I do that, and it has changed my life in a profound way. After awhile, you'll wonder why folks go to fitness centers and get on machines that go nowhere!

My bike is similar to the Amsterdam, which looks like a great bike. I trust you'll enjoy it for years. My dream is that when I retire, I just want one car between my wife and I, which is just used for trips.

This kind of bag is particulary fun to use when shopping. You need a rack to use it.
http://www.lickbike.com/productpage.aspx?PART_NUM_SUB='3657-00'
This kind of bag is one I use daily for my commutes. I keep my lunch, change of shirts, and rain gear in it.
http://www.lickbike.com/productpage.aspx?PART_NUM_SUB='3648-01'

Enjoy!
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Old 04-02-07, 09:32 AM   #9
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planetary,
Welcome to the fold. You are getting a good bike. Town/City bikes, like the one's you like, are also my favorite style of bicycle.

I'm curious about the name you picked, "Planetary", do you work in the aerospace field?

Enjoy,

--A
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Old 04-02-07, 06:18 PM   #10
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Nothing like we San Josers! Welcome aboard, Planetary...I just got here myself! And I love the term corporate cruisers...very nice!
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Old 04-02-07, 09:40 PM   #11
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Thanks for the kind welcome messages, everybody! Bit of a bulk reply, to keep things sane...

Red Rider - I sure know what you mean about kids being contrary. I was a little bit like that, too. And now that I've got kids -- triplet boys, in fact, 2.5 years old! -- I fear those days myself. :-)

wahoonc/thdave - Thanks for the pointer. I'd steered clear of the Living Car Free forum so far, thinking it was home of people much more dedicated than I can afford to be right now, but I'll definitely take a look. I'd love nothing more than to shed the 2nd car and have just the one, exactly as thdave mentions. (And thanks for the links to the panniers! I was wondering what the name for those things was...)

East Hill - I'm definitely watching the Northern California forums. I really appreciate the forum pointers and interest/effort that you folks are putting into pointing us newcomers to the right places. It's really appreciated, and makes one feel genuinely welcome.

AllenG - Amateur astonomy (visual, not photo) is a hobby of mine. I previously worked on a NASA mission run out of Stanford called Gravity Probe-B for a few years. It was a ton of fun in some ways, and definitely governmental in some others. :-)

TheHercules - Totally. I'm actually very proud to work for a company that is trying this kind of experiment on a large-ish scale! I see you're also in SJC. Awesome. :-)
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Old 04-03-07, 01:31 AM   #12
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Planetary, I do enjoy trying to get our new members to places that will be of interest to them. I confess that I do have a fondness for the Bay Area folks. Not only did I spend a considerable amount of my young life in San Jose, but my relatives still reside there. Additionally, many of the Classic & Vintage forum people are from the Bay Area, and they are some of the nicest people on the board (of course, I am prejudiced--everyone in the Classic & Vintage forum is wonderful).

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