Saturday, April 2, 2016

A "New" Bike

So, it's snowing out today:

This is dumb, because it's April and I'm running a race tomorrow.

But I'll stop complaining now and get to it:
A few weeks ago I schlepped more than half way across Cook County (and back!) to purchase bike I found on Craigslist. It ended up being pretty fun, so I thought I'd share here.

First up, the bike was not for me. To back this story up:

I really struggle with knowing what to get my brother when it comes to gift giving. Normally I get him tools (he does car things for a living), and I couldn't bring myself to do it again in December. This past Christmas I really had no clue what to get him. We've never been best-friend siblings, so I got to thinking that what I really wanted was a way to build our relationship. I've become a huge fan of building relationships through mutual participation in physical activities (ie Cam and I work out together, I got my mom to start doing yoga, etc), and I thought that would be a good way to tackle this. I actually spent a lot of time thinking and crunching numbers, and I ran it all past my mom to see if she thought it was a good idea...

And my final decision was to buy my brother a bike.

When he was in high school and college he did a lot of bike riding, but then he stopped...and I thought it would be good to reignite that spark, especially since I have to train for this triathlon! What a great way to fit in my training and our relationship building!

I'm not some loaded person though (I bought my own bike using savings bonds I cashed in a few years ago), so I decided to I would buy a "Like New" bike. This lead to me perusing Craigslist a lot.

And this is how Craigslist works:
Three quarters of the ads are for bike shops, because they'll post identical ads day after day. Of the remaining 25%, about a third of those are for crap (or stuff that could very likely be stolen), and the remaining 15ish percent are decent deals. Of these sales, a bunch may be old ads, or right on their way out the door.

To give you some demoralizing examples: A few months ago I found a bike that looked great, and the seller was close by. I contacted the him and setup a meeting for the next day. He backed out a few hours before the meetup through a (poorly written) email. Jerk. Two other sellers I contacted had already sold their bikes, and another didn't respond.

But last Friday was my lucky day. I found an amazing deal for a Specialized Crosstrail Sport - the upgraded version of the bike Cam has. I thought at first it was the same bike, but looked it up later (it had disc brakes, which Cam's didn't have, and that's why I looked) and this little misunderstanding has only made me happier about the purchase. It was the exact bike I wanted to get for my brother. This model is nearly $800 new, and although this model was a few years old, the asking price was more than fair (it was WAY less than half the original cost).

I texted the seller right away asking if it was still available - it was! I told him if he would hold it until I got off work, as long as it was in good condition I was willing to pay an extra 15% on top of his asking price. He was more than willing to meet up (and mentioned he'd only had people low balling him in the 14 hours since he'd posted), so I high tailed it over there after work to check things out.

Pause for a funny story about meeting the guy:
I don't like the idea of meeting up with randos from Craigslist - for obvious reasons. Because there was a time crunch to secure the sale, I wasn't able to wait the extra hour+ for Cam to get home and go with me, so we strategized beforehand instead. About 5 minutes out from this guy's house I called Cam so he could hear everything that happened through my Bluetooth headset.. When I got to the house, I tucked a knife in my pocket (along with the money), and the sale commenced. Cam was on the phone the whole time (including when I took my test ride) and he was not amused that the sale took so long :P

It's funny now because the guy was really friendly and talkative. He was selling the bike because he has two road bikes and just got a mountain bike to better handle the trails by his house, so he no longer needed the hybrid. He said he didn't have a ton of miles on the Crosstrail either, and aside from the wheels being a bit muddy (on the treads) there were no other signs of wear:

And check out all those pop tabs in the backround! #TeamRMHC!!
(Also...the drive from work was 45 minutes. The drive back to my house? Over an hour and a half. Joy.)

Anyways! The bike was in excellent condition and I was more than happy to fork over the agreed upon money. After feeling a bit dejected about not being able to find the bike I really wanted to buy him for so long, it was pretty awesome to end up finding exactly what I wanted (in the right size). It was also nice to surprise him with the bike the day he got back from a trip to Alabama.

In addition...
I also excited, because part of this whole gift thing is that I told James I'd take some days off during the summer so we can go for rides together. He usually works weekends, and I tend to have more flexibility with requesting time off, so I reserved 5 days for the purpose. Not only am I excited for the rides - I'm looking forward to having a couple of long weekends and days off mid-week to just hang out and cruise. I mean...who wouldn't want that??! It's definitely one of the perks of my company's PTO arrangement.

So there you go! How to buy a new-to-you bike off Craigslist. The bottom line?

Perseverance and patience!

Have a great weekend, and I'll be back with my workout updates and a race recap next week!


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