Friday, 26 September 2008

Reeling in a Marlin

We have my mom's car this week as she's off walking in the clouds. We finally found a use for it: use it to go buy a new bike! Meet my new mountain bike. It's a 2008 Gary Fisher Marlin. But I won't bore you with the technical details of it (unless you beg me, or make the mistake of the slightest suggestion you might tolerate me going on for hours about it).

The short story is I've been trawling various sources looking for a suitable mountain bike for many, many months now. I've been looking mostly at used ads. But a few days ago while doing some searches on the specifications of some used bikes that looked interesting, i came across the bike above on sale (most bike shops have stuff on sale at this time of year) at a bike shop north of here. It was a great sale price; nearly a quarter off the normal price (also there's no PST on bikes under $1000 in Ontario). It was slightly more money than I'd been thinking of spending; but the components were just about an exact match for what i'd been looking for for so long. "And just think of all the time i'll save if i just buy this, and stop scowering the internet every day for a decent used one!" was my line to Selena.

Anyhow, I was working from home today, and we have the car. So it seemed like, since Selena gave me permission---and almost even encouragement---to get the thing, and since we had the car, it was just too convenient. Jump in the car, go get the bike. And the months and months of searching is over!

It turned out not to be quite that short and simple.

The first minor complications was that the web site asks you to print out it's online price list and bring it in, because the specials they post on their web site are not always tagged in the store. When doing this I noticed the sale actually ended yesterday! A few phone calls later we confirmed they still had the size of frame I wanted in stock, and that they'd honour the expired sale price posted on the web. So that was a little annoying hurdle, but it turned out okay. Yay!

So, we all set out for the car. I'm not really sure why Selena and the kids were coming with me to drive up to Steeles to look at, try, and probably pick up a bike. But they were. Moral support, i guess. I wasn't complaining.

We got to the car. Selena was busy putting the stroller in the back. Emeth and Istra were playing on the sidewalk as we readied the car. Somehow Emeth ended up with the car keys somehow. We let him hang on to them to to keep him distracted while got things organized. Selena finished putting in the stroller and closed the back. I finished doing whatever I was doing in the backseat and closed the back passenger door. And Emeth finished whatever he was doing and by the front passenger door and closed it.

Selena notices that the doors are locked. We both notice that Emeth no longer seems to have the keys. AhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhHH! Emeth! It seems Emeth had, while we were distracted, been playing with the "buttons" on the door. He loves buttons. He'd managed to lock all the doors, and close the last open door, and he'd put the keys down on the front passenger seat.

Happy hippo, survived unimaginable horror.
The simple little trip to the bike shop was suddenly extremely complicated! Emeth! Emeth!!!! First he flushes the pink hippo causing us to have to get a plumber (it seems I never posted that story from many months ago, nor the picture of the rescued hippo). Now this!

We didn't know what to do. We called Anne to see if she might have some suggestions to help out somehow. She has CAA, and more experience dealing with this sort of thing. She quickly came up with a somewhat complicated scheme to get CAA to come and help us out. We went along with it not knowing what else to do. We had no keys to do anything, and everything else seemed even more complicated. Maybe if I had a coat hanger or something I might be able to figure something out, I thought. (The door was still open a slight crack, because Emeth wasn't strong enough to close it completely.) But I had nothing.

But just as I got off the phone with Anne, i looked down at the ground and sitting right there against the curb was a straightened coat hanger, with a small hook bent on one end. It was a bit rusty: left by someone long ago who had also locked their keys in their car? How convenient!

Got to be some place to ride down there...
Well, it wasn't exactly convenient, but it was something. It was actually extremely hard to do anything with it. It was hard to get the coat hanger bent around as needed to snake into the car. Once it it was in, it was extremely hard to control with any precision. And worst of all it turned out to be too flexible to be able to apply much pressure to the extact places needed to save us, so it was extremely frustrating. I tried getting it to press the unlock button the door. It just wouldn't quite work. I managed with the hook to flip the keys on the seat over and tried many times to get the thing to press the unlock button on the keychain. No luck. So close! But no.

I finally realised that I'd been using the end with the little hook, because that's the end that makes the most sense as a tool, right? Well, maybe if you're in 1974 trying to pull up the knobby-button on your door. Maybe the coat hanger had been sitting in the gutter there since 1974?!

I pulled the thing out and with more difficulty managed to get the slightly spiraled and pointy-ish end wormed into the car. It was still quite difficult and frustrating with many close calls. But the pointy end of the coat hanger eventually gripped enough onto the door lock button that i was able to gently wiggle the wire until just enough pressure got through and... Bingo! We'd suddenly broken into our own car.

We called Anne back and got her to quickly cancel the more elaborate plan.

By this time it was later in the afternoon than anticipated so the traffic was getting pretty bad. But nevertheless we braved it and made it up to Bayview Cycle... and in short order I was test driving my new bike in the parking lot. The guy dutifully (but graciously) tried to up-sell me a few models... nice bikes indeed, with significantly better components... I'd already tried to up-sell myself to one of them online... but I knew what I wanted and why. Ended up walking out with the very bike I'd been test riding, and slapping it onto the back of the car to take home.

Now... someday I'll have to get out and ride the thing. It's beautiful bike. Very plain and nondescript looking, a bit better than entry-level decent components, it feels and handles great (at least based on a few circuits around parking lots and hitting a few speed bumps and curbs).

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