Shadowfax

Trip Start Sep 17, 2011
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11
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Trip End Jul 19, 2013


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Flag of Taiwan  , Taiwan,
Monday, September 26, 2011

Yeah, I give my bikes nicknames.  Yeah, I named a previous one "the Enterprise."  I will not be judged for this. 

After a few days of near-death experiences at the hands of runaway scooters while strolling along Jhunan's largely sidewalkless streets, I was done walking here.  It'd still be over a month before my first full paycheck arrived and my savings until then were thinner than I'd like, but I ran the math and figured I'd be okay with a bike purchase.  The additional sanity provided by having my own set of wheels would be more than worth a few more 7/11 budget meals.

Right around the corner from my apartment was a Giant-brand bicycle shop.  They're a Taiwanese company and their slick fancy chain stores can be found all over the island, Jhunan alone had at least two if not more.  I'm not sure how they all stay in business considering it's not often somebody needs to buy a new bike, but I'm glad they exist.  I wandered inside and perused the selection.

There was a single column of cycles running up the middle of the store, divided into folding bikes, "regular" bikes, and really-really nice bikes.  Nowhere to be seen: fixies.  I skipped over the rows of folding mini-bikes which are really popular here.  It'd be easier to transport one of these as they fit in a bag and none of the trains or buses have bike racks like those in the US do, but it'd also be slow as hell on the road.  The second or third cheapest road bike caught my eye.  It was dark grey with black trimmings, sleek without being ostentatious and had a pair of shocks in front.  Also the fact that it wasn't the absolute cheapest was a bit of a plus, I figured after a few years of going through rickety used bikes like 24 went through presidents, it was time to invest in something a little more lasting.  I beckoned over the cashier who thank goodness spoke English and was quite friendly too.

"With bicycle, you can also pick these:"  He motioned to the wall of accessories.

Me in my head: "...'with' bike? Oh wow, I get some accessories for free?? Great!"  I picked off everything and the kitchen sink: lights, a bag, a helmet, an air pump, a U-lock...  The other salespeople (the store always seemed a bit overstaffed) quickly got to work fixing the equipment to the bike while Friendly English Speaker Cashier rung up the bill.

It was like twice what (I thought) it should have been.  

"I thought those were free??" 
"lol not free."  

I apologized for the misunderstanding (it sounded like they'd be free... though in hindsight this was a really boneheaded assumption) and explained I couldn't buy all that stuff after all.  I kept the helmet, the lock and the mini-pump.  The rest would have to wait.  The workers unstrapped the bag and lights as quickly as they put it on.  I felt a bit bad and silly making them do that but it's not like they were booming with traffic that day anyhow.

I paid up and was on my way.  Shadowfax was clearly a worthy steed and could carry me far into the countryside beyond Jhunan.  The travel itch was cured again.

A History of Past Bikes:
- The USS Chafa ("cheap" in the slang of my LA students):  Wrecked thrice around USC, fixed and eventually abandoned in the bike racks of Cody's apartment. 
- Ninja: destroyed, both wheels stolen while locked up at Pershing Square, gutted frame sold for scrap metal
- The Enterprise:  stolen off the rack of a 33 bus on the way to work.  a sad day :-(
- Mongoose: seat stolen outside Wheeler's apartment, shocks & brakes wrecked by Koreatown's crumbling gutters.  Fixed & sold before leaving to Taiwan
- Shadowfax the Strong:  still hasn't given me a problem.  I feel like I'm the only paranoid nut who actually bothers to lock up his bike here. :-o

 
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