So you dust off the old bike and fill the tires - or - rush down to the mall and roll out that red beauty after absorbing the wise words of the 18 year old sports department clerk who is actually from the tropical fish department but recently killed off a herd of guppies and got transferred to somewhere he could do less damage...to fish.
For a month your 'a bike is a bike' theory works like a charm. The old/new ride is perfect. It gets you where you want to go, which at this point isn't very far. It hasn't broken down or even gotten a flat. Those high priced bike shops are a real rip off, imagine $500 for a bike. What a joke. Barnum was right, there's one born every minute.
And then one day you're riding along and you decide to stand up and push a little bit harder. If you are lucky like I was, you are already in the process of sitting back down when the pedal snaps clean off at the crank arm and you don't land jewels first on the top tube. If you're not so lucky you speak with a lovely falsetto for a week as you tend to your wounds and then vow never to put your leg over another bike, assuming you regain that ability in the future.
-Or- you are riding along one day and you feel something strange. The pedal feels loose, the pedal on my 6 week old bike is loose, how can this be? So you return to _____ (fill in your favourite name for the department store now, bet its different) and are told the bike guy only comes in on Wednesdays after 2, and its Thursday. Wednesday rolls around and you return to get the bike that was tied up for a week. The clerk disappears for 15 minutes into the storeroom full of bikes and toys and pampers and coffee makers and everything under the sun except your bike apparently. He returns wheeling a shiny pink ladies cruiser, too bad you brought in a black full suspension mountain bike cause it is kind of cute. “Are you sure this isn't your bike Mr. Yamamoto”? Since none of your relatives, living or dead, have ever stepped foot in the land of the rising sun, you just smile. Eventually he comes back with your bike.
A week later you have entered your first race, a charity relay event and only 12 miles but they clock it and you are pumped to test yourself and your new ride against others. During the week you purchased a tool to do your own repairs to the crank arm that continues to cause you grief. No sense taking it back to _____ (you know what to do here) since they can't fix it and anyway it's Friday. Off you go in your first race, somehow knowing you are out of place in your football jersey, shorts and running shoes. Funny, your bike is the only one with a kick stand. And even funnier than that, halfway into the race the crank arm falls right off the bike and you end up pushing your new bike up the hills and then rolling down the other side. You try beating it on with a rock the size of a softball but that only works for a few yards and then it all goes wobbly again, but it does vent some of that frustration as you pound away.
And then the revelation. Our hero from the local bike shop that is sponsoring the event appears with a bike on the roof of his car. He pulls it off with ease, lowers the saddle and says simply 'finish'. You hop on and you are dumbstruck. The machine feels like it has a motor of its own. It climbs the hills and roars down the other side as you flick the gears up and down. You sprint the last 4 miles. The wind in your face has you realizing why your dog loves to put his head out the window of your speeding car, it just feels so damn good. You are so dead last the organizers cut your team mate's 3 mile run down to 1 mile so they can pack up and leave to go to the party, but you still feel so good. Until you remember that your 'bike' is on the back of that pickup over there, the machine is back with its true owner. People hear your story and tell you to take the bike back and get a real one. You have seen the light and that's exactly what you do, but you still don't spend $500. Now you realize you get what you pay for and spend $900 after absorbing what the guru at the bike shop tells you. He's about your age and more importantly about your weight, he doesn't have the life of even one guppy on his conscience, and he knows stuff.