Bike by Numbers

Meet Ace. The bike.

I once did a project on Numerology, the mystical study of numbers, for a geometry class in high school. The teacher was pretty religious – Catholic – so I'm not sure that she enjoyed my research into pagan symbolism, but it was interesting regardless. It’s fun to look at numbers and think of what they mean. Without getting all spiritual on it, I’d like to think my numbers in France are pretty good. When I go back and do some accounting, I’m generally pretty pleased. 

Certain ones are delightfully low:

1: apartments I've lived in since moving here.
2: times I've had to go to the police station for theft
1: traffic tickets given by a traffic cop

Others are fortunately high:

11: companies I've worked for in Paris (at least)
9: weeks of vacation during my first contract
10: pairs of Converse I have imported to France

But 4 is the new number that I’m angry at, and, despite being only 3 away from 1, it’s too high. I’m now on my 4th bicycle in Paris, after damage and theft have ruined my three previous ones. I’m pretty sure my annual bike budget may soon surpass my holiday spending budget and my gelato expenditures – and neither is particularly modest.

Using sites like (French craigslist) to find a bike may be a bad idea. I don’t particularly know what makes a good bike or what doesn't  but I know that used bikes are many times cheaper than those you’ll find in any boutique. 90-120 euros is the going rate for a quality used men’s bike, which isn't too bad when you consider that you may use it every single day instead of purchasing a monthly metro pass.

Street art featuring BIKES.

My newest bike, a red Dutch racer named Ace, was far from perfect. But he was cheap. A quick tune-up and brake change at the local bike shop was all he needed to be in tip-top shape again. But the charges start to escalate when you factor in accessories. Some new numbers popped up:

5: days it took before bike began showing its age
25: cost in euros for a tune-up
30: euros paid for tune-up since bike man “had no change”
2: number of locks bought to protect new bike
70: cost of locks
6: euros for new black tape to put around handlebars
7: times it took me to apply said tape correctly
100: decibels I’ll yell at if this one gets stolen.

Here’s to a hopefully wonderful summer (and beyond) with Ace…