Thursday, December 9, 2010

An Ode to Artemis

After three years of subjecting my beloved Artemis [1] to some of the worst conditions that a bicycle could possibly expect to endure, I finally brought her in for her first Cambridge tune-up: new tires (exchanged mountains for hybrids), new chain, new cassette, and a general sprucing up (though in Cambridge I prefer my bikes decidedly unspruced - less tempting to thiefs). I have ridden Artemis in snow, heavy rain (including an eight-foot-high semi-truck puddle tidal wave!), wind and hail (the ice chunks were bouncing off my helmet like ping pong balls). She has been locked up all over Cambridge, inside, outside, often overnight, and is scrappy enough to never get stolen.

I must admit, my reluctance to bring her in earlier was mostly due to a disdain for (and slight intimidation by) the type of snooty hipster fixie fanatics who work places like Cambridge Bicycle. Artemis is a modest bike - a light blue Specialized Hard Rock mountain bike with a tiny frame that my dad bought for me for my twelfth birthday. She has traversed nearly every bike path in Minnesota (plus quite a few country roads to boot), gave me the freedom to explore my adopted city, and kept me close to one of the most amazing people in the world (my dad). But, those shiny high-class road bikes and oh-so-hip lime green fixies staring out the windows of most bike shops don't know this. They look down at Artemis and only see her chubby tires, too-high seat, and think "what a loser." (No I am NOT being paranoid! I can see it in those judgemental handlebars . . . )

But, things were getting desperate. The mesh around the rim of the rear tire was disintegrating, the tube pushing through and deforming the wheel like a tumor. I could feel it as I rode, little speed bumps. Biking home at 2 AM in the 20 F windy Cambridge weather with the clunky chain was turning into an exercise in endurance. My friend Nicole suggested a small bike repair shop in East Cambridge called HubBicycle, which is run by a nice woman named Emily and her one assistant. Emily was listening to "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" when I walked in, and declared it her favorite show (okay, that is still hipster, but NERDY hipster - my homies!) and her assistant recognized my Minnesotan area code and had a Minnesota cow (not a Minnesotan but married to one - more homies!)

Mug shots: before and after
 My bike was not judged by hipster fixies, I was not forced to buy random junk, and now I have her back, shiny and better than ever. As I pushed down on the pedal to pull away from the shop, I said, under my breath, "These gears feel like butter."

I took a bike ride for fun today, in the 20 F cold. Oh yeah, I am just that hard core.

[1] My bicycle, named after Artemis (the Romans called her Diana), greek goddess of the hunt. Her symbol is the stag. Statues of her were some of my favorite during my visit to the Louvre last November:


  1. I have heard great things about the non-snobbiness of Hub Bicycle. I think I will be going there for all my future bicycle needs.

  2. glad you had a good experience at the bike shop!
    my bike is jealous that yours has a name and it doesn't...I'll have to think of one