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Beauty is in the eye of the banana seat's beholder

POSTED: March 27, 2010 10:00 p.m.

On the first day of spring, before the snow returned, I had visions of grandeur. As I have in years past, I dreamed of becoming physically fit.

The photo that accompanies this column doesn’t adequately illustrate that I am not a medium, either in size or the ability to talk to folks in the great beyond. I’m a large. OK, extra large. Depending on what third-world country an item is made, sometimes I am an extra-extra large.

I thought about how I would go about my new mission to become fit.

I was walking through a store and saw a treadmill. I have used a treadmill in the past. It works on the same principle as the conveyor belt on the checkout at the grocery store ... only faster. I also thought of my friends who own treadmills. Most of them have found that the nice handles on each side of the walking space of the treadmill make a dandy place to hang up items that need to drip dry.

Then, like a bolt of lightning it hit me. I will buy a bicycle.

When I was a kid, Santa acquired bikes for us from Sol Cohen’s bike shop in Atlanta’s West End. I remember the smell of the bike shop. It smelled like rubber bicycle tires. Sol had bikes of all shapes and sizes. One year, Santa, in his arrangement with Sol, brought a Schwinn Stingray to our house for Christmas.

There wasn’t a Schwinn dealer in Social Circle. The only choices were the ones they sold at Western Auto.

I thought I was hot stuff riding along the sidewalks of Social Circle with the Cadillac of bicycles.

I digress.

So I decided to go to a bike shop.

I walked in the door and the smell hit me. I closed my eyes and I was back at Sol Cohen’s. I was home (or so I thought).

Bicycles have changed a bit since I bought my last one. This was a place that sells the kinds of bikes that Lance Armstrong would ride. They are sleek, have skinny tires, and are so lightweight you can pick them up with a single finger.

These bikes cost more than my first car. No, they cost more than the first three cars I owned, combined.

This place also had a vast selection of spandex bike pants and tight-fitting shirts. For the sake of time, I refer you back to paragraph two.

The saleswoman, who was very nice, quickly figured out that I was looking for bikes with big tires and big seats.

Not cheap, either.

I walked out dejected. Sol Cohen is probably in that bicycle shop in the sky and I’m destined to join him.

I did what all working Americans do. I went to one of those big box stores.  They have bikes literally hanging from the ceiling. The only one that was the right height and price was purple and had a silver design on it.

Two things I know: I don’t wear spandex and I don’t ride purple.

I don’t know where you find a plain old bike in a muted color with a seat made to accommodate a wide load.

I’m looking.

Harris Blackwood is a columnist for The Times. His column appears every week in Sunday Life.



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