I'm in business! I was walking around Upper Queen street trying to figure out where to top up (refill) my bus pass card with more credit because someone had mentioned that a particular chain of convenience stores would have that capability. Not finding one quickly, I got distracted and entered an interesting looking secondhand store. And just inside the door were the bikes! All the bikes I've seen in the paper and in stores like Pennyfarthing and T. Whites have been crazy expensive, from $400 up to $5000. Not kidding. Even the rustiest clunkers on trademe, a kiwi version of craigslist cost $150 at least. Forget that. I got really lucky and scooped up a winner for $65 bucks. It's a Merida Albontech 870, apparently a real old model.
It needed a little work so I got some guides (from the library) and set to work yesterday. I cleaned some of the rust, adjusted front and rear brakes and got the front gear shift to work by adjusting the front deraileuueur. The rear tire had a slow leak, so I managed to get that apart and fixed the teeny hole by just covering it with some silicone. I'll probably need to get a proper patch on it, but it seems to be holding for now. Marianne generously let me borrow a gel seat cover which will really save my butt. I bought a bike lock and a light which together cost as much as the bike itself, but at least I'm road ready now. I asked the folks at the bike shop about Critical Mass, but they thought I was some kind of weird missionary. The Auckland CM website is vague and uninformative, totally in line with the "spontaneous" and "leaderless" rides that take place on the last Friday of every month. I can't wait to hang out with the fixies around here.
I went for a long bike ride last night to celebrate my new found transportation capability. Along with a satisfying workout and the thrill of being back on a bike, I got a keener sense of the geography of Auckland. Possibly due to its volcanic history, there are places of incredible steep inclines and declines surrounded by long, gradual slopes. Nowhere is Auckland flat. On my ride, I came across a burger and coffee joint that you could sit at or drive through. Here's a slightly Nighthawks-esque scene from the place.