Bike Friendly Richardson

I Bike Richardson – Jenny Rilling

Posted in I Bike Richardson by dickdavid on June 15, 2011

It’s time for another installment of the I Bike Richardson series, where we put a face on Richardson cyclists. We’d like to introduce, Jenny Rilling, who shares her story about getting back into biking, finding the right bike and becoming confident on the road, while riding in Richardson. Enjoy:

My Cycling Journey

Back when Mark Wahlberg was Marky Mark, I used to ride my little blue single speed coaster brake bike almost every day. The bike was indestructible and easy and fun to ride. However, I outgrew it, and as a teen I wasn’t interested in mountain biking or comfortable with “ten speeds” with drop bars, or BMX. I felt very physically awkward and un-athletic as a teenager in the era of “Xtreme” sports, so anything that looked like it would take a lot of skill or balance to ride was intimidating, and I didn’t see any adult sized city bikes or cruisers around at the time, so for a long time I didn’t think there was anything out there for me.

A few years ago, during the 2008 spike in gas prices, I decided to try to get back into biking, for health and recreation if nothing else. I bought a hybrid / comfort bike from Target. While it was fun to be on a bike again, I had no idea which of the 18 gear combinations I should be in at any one time, and the bike probably weighed about 50 pounds. I started riding it to the DART station one or two days a week, until one day it was stolen from the bike rack at the station.

As a replacement, I got a 1970’s steel frame Huffy internal gear hub 3-speed from a thrift store. Vowing to never again leave a bike locked up all day at the station, I started taking the Huffy onto the DART train with me and leaving it in a corner of the office at work. The Huffy really brought the joy of cycling back to me and kindled my interest in vintage city bikes. The low maintenance hub, chainguard, and upright North Road style bars were perfect for my commuting needs. There were a couple of drawbacks though: the bike didn’t have fenders, and the fork was so narrow that I didn’t think fenders would fit. So if I wanted to ride the bike to work, I was limited to days where the road was dry and it wasn’t going to rain in the morning. I commute in my work clothes, so getting mud on the back of my pants isn’t acceptable. The Huffy was also quite heavy – I could just barely manage to lift the Huffy onto the bike hanger in the Light Rail SLRV car. So, I decided to look for another vintage bicycle for myself and give the Huffy to my aunt for her to use for recreation.

My search for a lightweight, affordable bicycle that could be set up the way I wanted let me to Craigslist, where I scored a 1970’s Follis mixte frame made in France for an excellent price. Now that I knew I enjoyed cycling as an adult, it became very important to me to set up the bike with the components I thought essential, and to do all of the work myself since a new bike with my preferred specs was out of my price range. I stripped the old paint from the frame and in between new coats, I immersed myself in Sheldon Brown’s website and the Lovely Bicycle blog. Freshly painted, the mixte was set up with a Shimano Nexus 3 speed internal gear hub with a coaster brake, and front caliper brake. I also installed Wald fenders, a Brooks saddle, vintage Wald chain guard, North Road style bars, cork grips, a Porteur Double Kickstand from Velo Orange, and a Soma rear rack.

During 2010 I gained a lot of confidence in riding. I went from riding through the crosswalk at intersections to taking my place in the traffic lane when necessary, though I prefer to use bike infrastructure that keeps me separated from cars. In this respect, I believe that living in Richardson really facilitated my getting back into cycling in a way that few other areas of the Metroplex could, and I’m grateful to live in a city that is so bike-friendly. This year, I joined in the Bike Friendly Oak Cliff 1 day a week / 52 weeks per year challenge to get around at least one day every week without using a car. It hasn’t always been easy to stick to the challenge, but it has been a very rewarding experience. It’s inspired me to go further and do more on a bicycle, and I’ve even got my husband interested in adding panniers to his bike now that he’s seen me working on my grocery bike.

Because the mixte goes in the train, I wanted to keep it from getting too bulky, so I once again went back to Craigslist for a bike that I could bolt big baskets to. My grocery bike had to be inexpensive and sturdy, and I found a Raleigh USA step through bike from the early 80’s that would do fine. The price was right, but many of the components were in rough shape. I replaced the crankset, tires, a fender strut, the seat and grips, got a new old stock trigger shifter + cable, replaced the brake cables, and scrubbed off surface rust. The finishing touch for this bike will be a set of Wald baskets so that I can use it for groceries and bringing home bags of dog food. We’ve already started doing small errands on our bikes in the evening, instead of getting in the car. Thanks to bikes, all sorts of formerly routine things have become fun and new as I experience them in a different way.

We want to thank Jenny, for inspiring us with such an awesome story. We’d also like to extend an invitation to any cyclist who lives and/or rides in Richardson to share their story as well.

2 Responses

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  1. […] » Daily Texas Bicycling News Roundup June 15th By Rick Ankrum, on June 16, 2011, 12:06 am I Bike Richardson – Jenny Rilling by dickdavid    Bike Friendly Richardson It’s time for another installment of the I Bike […]

  2. […] Assault friend Jenny had posted these on Facebook. They’re a fantastic glimpse of what cycling was like in […]

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