This last week we went to one of two Bicycle centers for the city. It is about 3 blocks long with one bicycle shop after another. You can get anything and everything you want and they can even build a bicycle to your specifications right on the spot. There are probably 20 bicycle shops in this area. I had some pretty specific needs. Because of the pedestrian traffic that gets itself into the particular bike route that we will be using to go to work, I needed a bicycle that I can stop on a dime and get off of the seat and stand between the seat and the handle bars (stradling the bike but with both feet on the ground). I don't have time with the kind of traffic we are in to get my leg over the seat and completely dismount on one side. That presents a problem. I needed to have bike that fits my body (rather wide in the middle), I also wanted good Shimano parts, brakes, gears, and good tires (wide not skinny like our road bikes). We need wide tires for the rough parts of the road and for the handling. We were taken to the bike area by a wonderful guy who works with us but who has absolutely no understanding or knowledge about bicycles. I thought I was going to die as he tried to negotiate for a bicycle for me. My spanish is bad but the kid at the bike shop where we were shopping could tell that I knew what I wanted and the guy that was doing the talking didn't know much. I looked at him and he looked at me and we both rolled our eyes at the same time. At least Darwin and I got a look at where the place was. It was only a couple of miles from where we work. Walking is nothing in this city so we didn't buy anything on the first trip, but Darwin and I went back (walked there) on Wednesday of last week and met with the same kid again. He really did have a good selection and he and I matched up a frame for me and then we fitted it with good parts. The frame was cheap and so are the handle bars and I may have to replace them because the hand grips are a little short but over all it is good bike for what we are doing here -- basic transportation and some exploring on saturdays. Below are some shots of some of the bike shops we were in. We will get a shot of us on the bikes later. Getting Darwin a bike wasn't nearly as hard as getting me one because he doesn't have the body geometry problem that I do (what a nice way to say that he isn't obese). Our bikes cost us about $200.00 a piece- a little less I think.
They had to have a day to build my bike so we picked up our bikes on Thursday. Of course it had to be in a downpour. We live about 3 miles from work and the bike area was another 2 miles beyond where we work and not on a major bike route so we road for 5 miles in a a heavy rain. We were absolutely soaked when we got home, but happy as clams. We did our training out at the resort on Friday so didn't get to really ride for fun until yesterday. Below just above the Ecuador slide show are some shots of the park that we road in. It is a fairly small park as far as parks go in this city but it was beautiful out side and we took some shots of the facilities and activities. One of things that we have noticed down here is that people interact with each other and share open space in all the cities, big and little. There is a vitality here and joy in being together. The people here treat us like they love having us here. There is not hit of anti-american sentiment (we won't talk about Venesuela). They are patient with my stubling spanish and appreciate my efforts to learn their language. The are very helpful and want to help you learn but are willing to struggle along with you when there is a communication problem.
This was a workout station with all kinds of equipment and there were 2 personal trainers here working with people.
The bike paths are for all sizes and all styles of bikes