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How My New City Bike Transported Me to Paris

What's the difference between a road bike and a city bike? I recently found out, and in the process I magically discovered myself riding in Paris.

Let me explain.

Ann at bakeryMaybe it was the hassle of clip-in (I refuse to call them clipless) pedals or the hardness of my racing saddle after taking the winter off from riding, but this spring I found I was enjoying my zippy road bike less. An old wrist problem of mine had flared up again, and I couldn't take the weight on my hands that the road bike's classic drop-bar design accentuated. But the alternative, the more upright-oriented urban bikes, aren't cool—or are they?

In any event, I had developed a crush on a mocha-brown city bike with mint detailing, a curvy "mustache" handlebar and cork grips that felt unbelievably comfortable. I plunked down my REI dividend and then some, and came home with my new love: a Novara E.T.A. 

Lest you think my new "townie" bike is a pink step-through with a fat white seat, think again. The E.T.A. is no slouch. With 27 gears and disc brakes, this steed gamely tackles the hills of my Seattle neighborhood. It's heavier for sure than my road bike, but the beauty is, I don't need special bike shoes or bike shorts to ride. When I get the urge, I wheel the bike out the door, hop on with jeans and sandals, and I'm off (with helmet on, of course). I don't have to worry about falling at an intersection from failing to twist my bike shoe out of a clip-in pedal. Such freedom!

Mustache handlebarOne weekday morning soon after getting my E.T.A., my partner John and I got up early to enjoy the all-too-rare Seattle sun. We hopped on our bikes to ride down to Café Besalu, our favorite French bakery.

What pure joy it was to tootle down 24th Avenue NW (or was it Rue 24?), upright and grinning, reveling in the easy control of the mustache handlebars. Then a strange thing happened—I was transported to a day I spent in Paris years ago. Suddenly I was flying down bike paths in the heart of Paris on a rented 5-speed, baguette et fromage in the handlebar basket, en route to the sprawling Bois du Boulogne park for a picnic lunch. Who knew there were bike paths in bustling Paris? (My friends from London did, thank goodness.)

Cafe Besalu goodiesAh, but back to my early morning jaunt: Where was I—Paris or Seattle? John and I parked our wheels under the 24th Avenue trees and sat in Besalu's sunny window swooning over to-die-for croissants, almond schnecken and café au lait (okay, they called them lattes; this is Seattle, after all). Soon we would ride home and I'd get to work, telecommuting. But on this morning, we were living the Parisian lifestyle.

While I will still (once my wrists get better) use my road bike for longer, faster rides, for now I feel like a kid again. All I have to do to be back in Paris is hop on my city bike. And a French bakery as a destination doesn't hurt.

What's your favorite style of bike? Where has your new bike taken you?

Posted on at 3:37 PM

Tagged: Cycling, Novara E.T.A., bicycle, mustache handlebar and urban bike

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I want a bike like yours!

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