On buying a bicycle (it’s complicated!)

 

my bike

Please support my journey by donating towards the cause I’m cycling for (200dhs+ gets you a postcard! Details here).

 

I finally bought a bike over the weekend so I can start training for The Great Asian Cycling Challenge. The last time I owned one was over 20 years ago in Melbourne; my dad bought it for me from a garage sale and it was green and it was awesome. I was very sad to leave it behind when we moved…

 

Anyhoo…the key word here is ‘finally’, because after browsing, researching, and consulting with cycling enthusiasts for about a month, I’ve yet to wrap my head about all of the information. But here are 6 key things I learned about bicycles:

 

1. There are different bikes for different riding purposes. Honestly I thought there were just mountain bikes, kids bikes, and the ones with the slanted triangle for women. Apparently there are road bikes (very light with slim wheels), hybrids (light and versatile), mountain bikes (the heaviest and most durable), fat bikes (scary wheels). Then there are the gear variations, suspensions, brakes (disc vs hydraulic) etc. for each type. The permutations and combinations are endless, and as a result prices can start from 500dhs all the way to 12,000dhs+!

 

2. There are sizes. Again, I thought it was like one standard size for adults, and kiddie bikes. Apparently frames range from XS all the way to XL, like clothes do, except it’s based on your height. I bought a size S; the one time I’m a small size and it’s not because of my waistline *sigh*

 

3. There are different wheel sizes. The ‘traditional’ size is 26″, and then you have 27.5″ and 29″. The 27.5″ was apparently developed after a lot of pro cyclists requested this from manufacturers, and is now more common in the newer bikes.

 

4. The seats are awful all-round. If you’ve ever gone to a Flywheel class then you know how painful it is to sit on one of those for 45 minutes. I bought a gel padded seat cover, and it was still painful. I will now be looking for a saddle that I can also take with me on the trip, because 8 hours of sitting on that thing every day for 6 days will be torture. I’ve started reading up on this, and apparently there’s a lot to consider here as well.

 

5. Buying the bike is only the beginning. Then there are all the accessories, like the helmet, gloves, padded shorts, the bottle cage, the bottle, special sunglasses (for day rides), the blinker lights (for night rides), hydration packs (for long rides), the car rack (to mount it). I only have the first two as they’re the basic essentials, but I’ll have to get the rest soon. I never realised cycling could get as expensive as photography!

 

6. Bikes need servicing. My first bike may have gotten its tires inflated, but that’s about it. Apparently it is not that simple. My bike is due for its first service in two months. This is starting to resemble owning a car…

 

The one I finally bought was the Liv Alight by Giant (pictured above). It is designed for women and considered an entry-level ‘fitness’ bike. It’s closer to a road bike than a hybrid (the wheels are slimmer than the usual; I’ll be riding a hybrid on the challenge), which is good enough for training and getting used to cycling. It cost me about the same amount it would if I kept renting a bike over the next 6 months, but now I can ride whenever I want. Coincidentally, it is also green just like my first bike! I’m still thinking of a name for it, so if you have any ideas let me know!

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On cycling for a cause

Postcards and Bicycles
Image source: Etsy

This year I will do probably one of the toughest things in my life: cycling 450km from Vietnam to Cambodia. I am both excited and terrified; 450km is a lot of ground to cover, and I’ll be cycling for about 8 hours every day over 4-5 days. I have not owned a bicycle since I was a kid, and the last time I cycled was in Downtown Dubai for like an hour (which barely counts, with all the starting and stopping). I’m doing this a few reasons (in no particular order):

  1. It will force me to commit to my fitness habits and push myself further, because this will be a physically challenging journey.
  2. It’s for a good cause, and especially because it’s for kids. It kills me to see them suffer, because they’re collateral in all the conflicts waged by grown ups. I was lucky to have a great childhood with many awesome memories, so this is my way of giving back.
  3. I get to visit that part of Asia without my parents freaking out (I’m still a little girl in their eyes *sigh*). I’ll be traveling with 28 other colleagues and the challenge is organised by Gulf for Good, who have done trips like this a bunch of times; that’s as safe as it gets!

 

My fundraising goal is 17,000dhs (which is approximately US$4629/ A$6064/ £3102/ €4249). The money will go to two charities:

 

The challenge is taking place at the end of October over 6 days, but I need to raise the money by mid-September.

All donations go straight to the charities and are not part of funding this trip (my company is covering that part, and I’ll be buying my equipment for the challenge).

 

As of writing this post, I have reached 14% of my fundraising goal (thank you to all my early supporters; it means so much!). To make it a little more fun and interesting for everyone, I’m launching an initiative called Postcards & Bicycles.

 

What is Postcards & Bicycles all about?

For every donation of 200dhs (US$55/ A$71/ £36.50/ €50) or more, you will receive a custom, personalised postcard from me while I’m cycling in Vietnam/Cambodia!

The postcard is my way of saying thank you for your support and generosity.

 

The idea was inspired by a documentary- On The Bride’s Side- that was crowdfunding to complete production last year. I received my postcard (and digital download of the film- a must-watch by the way!) from them a couple of months ago and it was awesome to get something in the mail that was not a bill or bank statement!

 

How this works

Once you’ve made a donation on this link https://www.justgiving.com/nagham/ (please make sure you enter an email address when you donate), I will add you to the list! You will then get an email from me asking for your mailing address so I can send you the postcard in November when I’m on the cycling challenge.

 

If you’ve already made a donation of that amount or more, you’re already on the list and will soon receive an email from me on next steps.

If you’ve already made a donation less than 200dhs but would like a postcard, you can make another donation with the difference and I will add you to the list!

 

I will be updating this blog often with progress on training and other challenge-related stuff over the next 6 months, so stay tuned!

Please donate, and share this post with your friends and through your social networks to spread the word. Every little bit helps. Thanks for your support!

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