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And so it begins....

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And so it begins....

Old 12-07-15, 08:43 PM
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Mako Jak
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And so it begins....

Hey there folks.
I'm sure this is a common story around these parts, but I wanted to share my experience here.

As some of you already know from my introduction and carfree living posts, I recently got tossed out after 25 years of marriage, way down on my income (lowest income since I was 16) and getting slammed for child support and medical coverage (even though I have him covered much better elsewhere since he has a terminal illness), facing certain loss of vehicle this upcoming Sunday and probable loss of roof over my head within a month or two, I was scrambling to go car free fast. I have no money, so that posed a dilemma. I need stable wheels on an extremely tight budget, this posed another dilemma. I need something I could carry easily up and down these apartment stairs while I am able to live here at least. I am out of shape and heavy. I have not been into bikes since 20" BMX backyard quarter pipes in the 70's / 80's.

My saving grace, aside from forums like this one, is that I am mechanically inclined. My father was a welder before he passed, for his entire life, and also taught me how to rip a car engine down and put it back together the right way, with the right tools. Also motorcycles from the ground up. TV's. everything. If it could be taken apart and reassembled, he taught me how. So I have that going for me... not afraid to get my hands dirty and have a somewhat basic grasp of things mechanical.

I had roughly $150 - $200 max to spend right now, after saving for a while... we're talking coins here too... I was saving pennies here as well.

Due to needing some assurance that I was safe in what I was about to purchase, at least somewhat, I decided to forgo quality (my father just rolled over in his grave) for the ability to return/refund without question. Yep, big box store. I read the reviews, I read the forums, I read everything I could for as long as I could (month or so of constant reading at 3am!). I saw all of the advice here. But still, what was I going to do? I had a buck fifty and everything I could find in LBS and Craigslist was either out of my range or big box bikes being sold for more than the retailers wanted in the first place...

Off to Wally World I went... 2 weekends ago. Spent 4 hours cruising 4 Walmarts, 2 targets, a Kmart and a few sporting goods stores. Then 6 more hours yesterday. YIKES!! and ouch. I thought you guys/gals were exaggerating a bit... but you were so not. The welds on these things are bubbly mush! I could actually push a paperclip through some of the air holes in the welds on some Huffy's! Some of these bikes are so heavy I couldn't even get them off the rack, let alone carry them up and down these stairs everyday. The assembly on these things was the most disturbing though, I thought part of the housing was missing from some quick trigger shifters on a Max Air, until I realized the handlebars were mounted upside down
I'm sure there's some gems in there somewhere... but I'll be damned if I could find any. And that left me very sad... and very scared... as my deadline with my car approaches fast. I have some rooms for rent I'll be looking into, but at 6 or 7 miles out, I really needed a bike fast in order to carry on trying to survive.

This morning after pouring over Craigslist for hours before work, I found it. I know I overpaid. They would not budge. I walked at one point. I truly believe them that they did not want to part with it... and when I tried offering even a bit less than asking price, it was a very easy "no way" for them. I was only trying to get a lower price so I could afford the rack I need for the rear (gotta grocery shop)... and the must have accessories, a few tools, pump, light, etc...
But for the same price (or a bit less even) than I was about to pay Wally for a 40 lb slab of vocational school 'what not to do' sample... did I do so bad??

It's a Giant Iguana. Late 90's maybe, haven't searched the serial # yet, will soon, just got home. It seems to have better Shimano parts than the stuff on the BBB's. It's SOLID. Garage kept. Never left outside. Not a spec of rust anywhere on it, few if any scratches. Grips are like brand new and I think they're the original. Looks like original everything actually. Need tubes I think, kinda low on air but it's freezing out and he said he has not pumped them up in a long time... so maybe they're ok. QR front, back and seat. Looks like all the mounts are on the frame for cages and pumps and racks and everything... all emblems still there and still look new. I can tell the crank is better quality than most of what I saw at the BB's... same with the derailleurs. Tires look brand new, although they're knobby and I will will be doing mainly pavement traveling (looking forward to some light nature trails though!). Rims are MUCH higher quality. Paid $150. Offered $125 as I really needed that extra money for accessories... but they said no way and I was going to walk! I was! But then I lifted the thing... and I went weak at the knees and a tear rolled down my cheek. This thing seems weightless compared to most of what I lifted at the big retailers. So I flipped it and spun the wheels. Another tear. First perfectly true wheels I had spun out of 50+ this past week! I threw the $150 at him. I cried with joy. I popped the front wheel off with the QR in a second and had the thing in my my back seat for the ride home. I pulled over twice to get out and kiss the frame. It's old... but it has to be 100 times the bike that I would have got for that same money at the store... and when I carried her up my steps tonight, I knew she was home.

Thank you all for the advice, it was really hard wrapping my head around how I would follow it... but my dad taught me enough to know that I needed to try. I'm SO glad that I did.

Last edited by Mako Jak; 12-07-15 at 08:47 PM. Reason: typo demons
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Old 12-07-15, 08:58 PM
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It sounds like you found a low mileage cream puff. I'd say you did well as long as it fits you.
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Old 12-07-15, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
It sounds like you found a low mileage cream puff. I'd say you did well as long as it fits you.
Thank you. It's smaller than I thought I would need, but it seems ok so maybe I was just wrong in my thinking prior to this? It's got 26 inch wheels with a 16 inch frame and I thought for sure I needed an 18" at least for being 5'11". But my inseam is only 29 inches. I'm to the hip with the seat at only about 1/2 height on the post, my legs seem almost fully extended at the bottom, so possibly ok fit. I wont know for sure I guess until I get some air in the tires and take her for a real good spin.
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Old 12-08-15, 07:44 AM
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I think it's a 96 SE from everything I could match... could be wrong. Here she is as purchased. Needs to be wiped down of cobwebs and lubed up... and some air, otherwise solid and clean.


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Old 12-08-15, 08:24 AM
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Looks like a perfect urban commuter/off-road fun bike. When you can afford a rack, lights, narrower, slick tires you will be set for years.

If you ride urban mostly, a couple super-cheap watch-battery blinkies will do you fine for lights. And without a rack, there are always knapsacks. You made a good choice as far as I can see.

Post the parts list sometime if you get a chance please.
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Old 12-08-15, 08:35 AM
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That's great to hear! Thank you! I will definitely post the parts asap. I'm off to work now but tonight I should have time. I see Shimano Alivio all over it... it all seems a little bit better than the Shimano stuff I was seeing at Walmart and such...
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Old 12-08-15, 08:45 AM
  #7  
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I'd say you picked up a great bike.
I'm of similar proportions (5'11" 29 inseam) and I find that I am more comfortable when I go down a frame size from what was recommended for my height so your 16" should work out great. You may be all set on the tubes. They naturally leak air over time, once you pick up a pump you will know for sure.

If you live near a bike co-op they will be able to help you out if you ever need some of the specialty bike tools or if you need inexpensive replacement parts.

Good Luck with everything that is going on. Keep us posted on how it is going!
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Old 12-08-15, 08:47 AM
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I see that you are getting close to time that you will be riding only the bike. Might better get out and ride that thing soon so you can start getting used to it. If I read correctly, a 14 mile round trip per day without having ridden in the better part of 40 years is going to be rough as hell. Might also suggest you check into and do a test run with possible public transit options along the way, loading and unloading the bike, until you get some miles in your legs.
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Old 12-08-15, 08:49 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by Mako Jak View Post
I think it's a 96 SE from everything I could match... could be wrong. Here she is as purchased. Needs to be wiped down of cobwebs and lubed up... and some air, otherwise solid and clean.
Check the numbers on that crank, they'll still send you a new one.

CPSC, Shimano Announce Recall of Bicycle Components | CPSC.gov
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Old 12-08-15, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Mako Jak View Post
I think it's a 96 SE from everything I could match... could be wrong. Here she is as purchased. Needs to be wiped down of cobwebs and lubed up... and some air, otherwise solid and clean.


That is a great find, from what you say and from these pics, Mako Jak.

Question: do you have the saddle set roughly the height you used to make your fit comments in post #3 ? If so, I'd say you really lucked out here re. fit as well. If the frame is marked "16" keep in mind that that dimension is probably centre-to-centre (centre of b/b to centre of intersection between top tube and seat tube). That's what it looks like in the pics.

My point is that your Iguana is in fact what would be called a Medium (19, measured centre of b/b to top of seat tube) by Giant today. In other words, my 2005 Giant Rainier, size 19/Med, is the same size as your '96 Iguana 16. If you are 5'11" with a 29 cycling inseam, you could ride a current Giant Medium easily, so your Iguana should work perfectly well. It will be slightly shorter in reach than is typical of today's mtbs in that size, but that shouldn't be a problem.
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Old 12-08-15, 01:37 PM
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Sounds like a good bike. Plus you have to love the name. Would be interesting to work it into the conversation.

Y "I have a giant iguana"
P "How big is it"
Y "Its big enough to ride"
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Old 12-08-15, 02:18 PM
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That's a pretty sweet ride considering it's approx 20 years old. Looks like an Alivio crank, but it's hard for me to tell exactly what level the other stuff is. I doubt the shifters are Alivio; probably the cheaper Gripshift stuff but if they work that's all that matters. Back in the day Alivio was right underneath the racer-preferred (LX/XT/XTR - depending on what level you raced at), so pretty good stuff especially if you're going to commute with it.
+1 on the other guys advice regarding adding components. Should give you many years of good riding, as long as you take care of it.
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Old 12-08-15, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by rex615 View Post
Sounds like a good bike. Plus you have to love the name. Would be interesting to work it into the conversation.

Y "I have a giant iguana"
P "How big is it"
Y "Its big enough to ride"
We all Say "Lol" but this actually made me laugh out loud.
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Old 12-08-15, 07:12 PM
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Thanks so much everybody! So glad to hear that I did well. The more I go over it, the more solid it seems.

Originally Posted by MR BIG STUFF View Post
Check the numbers on that crank, they'll still send you a new one.

CPSC, Shimano Announce Recall of Bicycle Components | CPSC.gov
Wow! Thank you! You guys rock. I saw your post and confirmed I do have a recalled crank set. I called Shimano and left a message, I also called the LBS and they said yeah bring it in and they'll swap it out for me no problem! Thanks so much for letting me know about this!


Originally Posted by badger1 View Post
That is a great find, from what you say and from these pics, Mako Jak.

Question: do you have the saddle set roughly the height you used to make your fit comments in post #3 ? If so, I'd say you really lucked out here re. fit as well. If the frame is marked "16" keep in mind that that dimension is probably centre-to-centre (centre of b/b to centre of intersection between top tube and seat tube). That's what it looks like in the pics.

My point is that your Iguana is in fact what would be called a Medium (19, measured centre of b/b to top of seat tube) by Giant today. In other words, my 2005 Giant Rainier, size 19/Med, is the same size as your '96 Iguana 16. If you are 5'11" with a 29 cycling inseam, you could ride a current Giant Medium easily, so your Iguana should work perfectly well. It will be slightly shorter in reach than is typical of today's mtbs in that size, but that shouldn't be a problem.
Thank you! Yes, the seat is at my hip in those pictures, maybe a tad high, might need to drop it a mm or two, but real close to where it needs to be. My weight it now my main concern, but this bike and rims seem like a tank to me. I was 325 and I am down to 270 now, stress and running on the old treadmill for 6 months, watching what I eat too. Hopefully this speeds things up and my weight becomes a non-issue for the bike soon... before it buckles hopefully.

Originally Posted by rex615 View Post
Sounds like a good bike. Plus you have to love the name. Would be interesting to work it into the conversation.

Y "I have a giant iguana"
P "How big is it"
Y "Its big enough to ride"
LOL!!! I called the CL seller from work yesterday and asked if she still had the Giant Iguana for sale, my coworker from the next cubicle over slid back and looked at me like I was insane! bwahahah! Good stuff!

Originally Posted by Red Tornado View Post
That's a pretty sweet ride considering it's approx 20 years old. Looks like an Alivio crank, but it's hard for me to tell exactly what level the other stuff is. I doubt the shifters are Alivio; probably the cheaper Gripshift stuff but if they work that's all that matters. Back in the day Alivio was right underneath the racer-preferred (LX/XT/XTR - depending on what level you raced at), so pretty good stuff especially if you're going to commute with it.
+1 on the other guys advice regarding adding components. Should give you many years of good riding, as long as you take care of it.
Thanks! Definitely will be adding a rear rack asap, and panniers. Some light fenders too so I don't arrive at work with a trail up my back. I just picked up a real cheapo box of accessories to get me through a couple of weeks... pump, gauge, lights, lock, etc... for the price I expect it to barely last a couple week but it'll get me by until next pay period hopefully and I will look for a co-op and/or flea markets in the meantime. Yes, it's an Alivio crank (recalled per a previous post, not sure what they'll replace it with), says Alivio on the rear gears too (cassette? is that right?) and on the brake levers and brake mechanisms as well. The shifters are Gripshift brand, yes.

Thanks again everybody, massive wealth of information and advice on here, all of it is very much appreciated! I ended up with this bike because of the advice on here to buy used quality for the same price as new junk, so I already owe everything I have and know about bikes to you guys and gals! I will be reading, learning and chatting a lot here
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Old 12-08-15, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Mako Jak View Post

LOL!!! I called the CL seller from work yesterday and asked if she still had the Giant Iguana for sale, my coworker from the next cubicle over slid back and looked at me like I was insane! bwahahah! Good stuff!
This is an excellent story
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Old 12-08-15, 08:37 PM
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wow! I deflated the tubes completely to straighten the valves out... having no idea just how long and hard these little teeny pumps are to inflate a tire from scratch! By the time I get these tires inflated, I will be down another 100 lbs! lol. Last bike pump I used was a big ol 70's stand pump made of heavy steel. That thing could inflate a tire in like 5 strokes. This little thing I got tonight... it's been 1/2 hour of pumping and I'm not even sure it's working. Everything is tight... there's no leaking that i can tell... lol I'm a wimp!!

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Old 12-09-15, 12:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Mako Jak View Post
wow! I deflated the tubes completely to straighten the valves out... having no idea just how long and hard these little teeny pumps are to inflate a tire from scratch! By the time I get these tires inflated, I will be down another 100 lbs! lol. Last bike pump I used was a big ol 70's stand pump made of heavy steel. That thing could inflate a tire in like 5 strokes. This little thing I got tonight... it's been 1/2 hour of pumping and I'm not even sure it's working. Everything is tight... there's no leaking that i can tell... lol I'm a wimp!!
Most mini pumps are only made to get you home in an emergency and are generally not good to be used as the primary pump. Often they won't pump above 50-60PSI, where suitable for your needs, will still work the heck out of you.
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Old 12-09-15, 12:23 AM
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Originally Posted by punkncat View Post
Most mini pumps are only made to get you home in an emergency and are generally not good to be used as the primary pump. Often they won't pump above 50-60PSI, where suitable for your needs, will still work the heck out of you.
Ok, thank you. I didn't expect it to be easy, but this one never pumped anything... I pumped for 3 hours and it never worked. I made absolutely sure that i was using it correctly, it was locking onto the valve, it just would not work. I had seen my neighbor had one on his frame so i asked if I could borrow it. It's almost identical, I used it the same exact way, his pumps fine. Definitely more of a workout than I thought, but at least after 5 minutes the tire was firming up. Going to return mine tomorrow and get a different brand, as well as invest in a floor pump so I only have to use the mini for emergency as suggested above.
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Old 12-09-15, 12:27 PM
  #19  
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7 miles each way should be about 30-36 minutes once you get used to it and with smooth road tires. Will probably be 40-50 min with knobby tires to begin with. I keep inexpensive floor pumps at home and the office. When I use my portable mini pump I use what I call "the Charleston" method. I hold the pump with one hand cupping each end and them put a knee against Tyne outside of each hand and squeeze with both hands and knees. It really helps. It looks funny, but it works. Good luck worth your riding...I hope it contributes to further improvements in health both physical and mental...it does for me.
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Old 12-09-15, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by punkncat View Post
I see that you are getting close to time that you will be riding only the bike. Might better get out and ride that thing soon so you can start getting used to it. If I read correctly, a 14 mile round trip per day without having ridden in the better part of 40 years is going to be rough as hell. Might also suggest you check into and do a test run with possible public transit options along the way, loading and unloading the bike, until you get some miles in your legs.
I'd also suggest that you try to sell the car, and get a little bit of money out of it versus it being repossessed. Now, if you're upside down on it, then that's another story.

GH
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Old 12-09-15, 01:50 PM
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Nice bike, I'd say you did well. Best of luck to you sorting everything out.
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Old 12-13-15, 10:36 AM
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Thanks everyone!

Update on the bike, I took it to my lbs and they swapped out that recalled crank. I think the new stuff they used is lower on the Shimano quality list, but I'm not sure I would ever really notice something like that without reading about it. They used Altus components. I did end up with a new BB, crank set, chain and fd, so I am not complaining at all Thanks so much again for the heads up on the recall! And thanks to Shimano for standing behind it almost 20 years later! Kudos to the lbs too, an hour drop off to pick up, friendly, funny staff and a shop full of great bike that I will certainly be back to look at someday.

update on my situation. She got the support and medical order reversed! I may actually be able to keep my current apartment. I will still be car-free as of 12:01am tomorrow morning, but I am 3 blocks from work instead of 7 miles. Got my Topeak Explorer back rack on it's way, some commuter fenders and a couple good locks and light kit. Should be good to go for a bit now.

Yesterday I took my son out on his bike which is a little too big for him but it's what we have to work with... he never learned to ride and was terrified of trying after several nasty falls previously while learning. I found an amazing article/blog that touted a 30 minute learning exercise that seemed to have an extremely high success rate. We followed it and 30 minutes later he was riding on his own with no issues! Even on some tough terrain later in the day! Crazy stuff. Psychology. His confidence is through the roof right now.

I got to ride a lot too yesterday, all day pretty much. Loving this bike!! Even at my current weight, it seems to be fine which is very surprising to me. Another big positive, I've been sleeping an hour per night at best. Stress and crunching numbers, etc... taking it's toll. BP up. Weight up. Just bleh. Well after riding all day yesterday, I came in around 8pm and collapsed into bed within an hour... 10:30am I woke up! This is going to be so good for me.
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Old 12-13-15, 10:45 AM
  #23  
Mako Jak
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Originally Posted by ColaJacket View Post
I'd also suggest that you try to sell the car, and get a little bit of money out of it versus it being repossessed. Now, if you're upside down on it, then that's another story.

GH
I so wish I could. It was on a chapter 13 that is 5 years old, there was only 10 months left on it and I would have owned the car. The BK payment was low enough for both of us to split and manage just fine. I could not afford it myself though. I could not afford the car payment either, outside of the BK, when combined with the insurance. Because we're separated and all that was left being paid on the bk was my truck, she opted to file 7 and get out of it. It cost her almost as much to file 7 as it would have to finish off the 13, but she wanted me to be without a car as that helps her in the custody battle... I guess. I can't wrap my head around any other reason for this... Anyway I tried to work with the courts and the finance company (Well Fargo) and nobody would budge at all, so I eventually had to jump on the 7 with her and get out from under it as well. I had to surrender the truck in order to do that since I could not reaffirm the debt as Wells was demanding the original payments be made and it was way over my current ability to do so. It's going to work in my favor though. I am going to get fit due to not have a car, and I am going to never fall in love again due to being shafted after 25 years of being with who I thought was my best friend. People change, I know, but this split is full of insanity like this bankruptcy move, things that make no sense at all but hurt everybody involved in some way... the good news is I think she's starting to realize that now. Too late to fix some things, but never to late to start making positive decisions. Life is too short. Let's ride
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Old 12-13-15, 12:11 PM
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Looks like an excellent choice. You really did your homework. Congratulations.
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Old 12-14-15, 05:31 AM
  #25  
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Sorry to hear about the personal drama; glad you're getting a handle on it, though. My first split after 14 years, so I can relate. Second taught me that you just never know, so I'm no longer bothering, either. Surrounded by kids, so my time isn't going to waste.

You DID get a good bike; Giant is a good brand, the Iguana is sturdy. Enjoy it, and your journey into fitness!

Sounds like you also have an opportunity to make things simpler for yourself. That might be the biggest change, but relish it. 80-90% of what I own fits in a 10x18 room, where I sleep, read, surf the web, and watch football.
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