Finding my dream bike at Valley Cycles in Plains, PA

Located in Plains, PA, next to River Street Jazz Cafe.
I stumbled upon a new local bike shop on Friday, while on a job in Wilkes-Barre. We were passing through Plains when I spotted a mountain bike stood up next to a sign that read, "Valley Cycles." Well, always one to try out a new shop, I made a note to stop in on my next day off. That was yesterday.

The shop is located in the same building as the River Street Jazz Cafe, just in the next door. Inside, I passed along the rows bicycles, stood up like stallions in a stable, each eagerly anticipating a fast, powerful ride. I brought my Frankenstein's creation along with me, hoping an expert's opinion would answer my questions. Could it be saved? Would it be worth the effort and the cost? But even as I gingerly pushed it along, I was lustfully eyeing up the gallery of new bikes.

Dave, the man behind the counter, immediately started looking at several options for fixing up my bike. In the end, my suspicions were correct. I could either spend a few hundred bucks fixing up a bike that was still too heavy for the kind of riding I wanted to do, or I could invest the money into a really nice bike that would be exactly what I wanted and come with a full warranty. I decided to go with option 2, but which bike to choose?

I expressed interest in riding trails and doing some off-roading, which is why I was refitting an old mountain bike in the first place. Based on that, the first bike we looked at was a Giant Escape. It was a nice bike with 700c wheels. Just the right size, good fit and extremely light. The only downside was that it had flat handlebars. Even so, I took it for a ride, just to see if I'd like it.

Out in the parking lot, I gave the pedals a few cranks and just about lifted off the ground. I couldn't believe how nimble and quick the Escape was! It just felt... fun! Fun was the best word I could use to describe it. So light and quick, I was in love. But there was that flat bar. It seemed too wide, and something else didn't feel right. I wheeled it back into the shop and decided to try again.

Here's where I was really impressed with Valley Cycles. No sooner did I mention that I'd like to have drop bars, Dave was on the computer, looking up possible configurations to get me exactly what I wanted out of the Escape. But as I waited, I wondered, were drop bars really for me?

I prefer the lower riding position of a road bike, and even as often as I like to ride along the Lehigh Valley Gorge trail, I'm on the road about 99% of the time. If I were specifically looking to go off-road, I could always use my hybrid. It's not a mountain bike, by any stretch of the word, but it could do. Even so... I'm just more of a road bike guy, that's what I want.

My mind kept poring over my feelings when another bike caught my eye, a 2013 Giant Defy 5. At $720, it was a little more than the $500 budget I set for myself, but when the cost of converting the Escape was added to its $450 base price, I was going over budget, either way. I took the bike for a ride to see if it would change my mind any more.

Even lighter than the Escape and featuring drop bars, the Defy 5 was already everything I wanted the Escape to be. Nimble, quick, as I did sprints in the parking lot, I didn't want to come back in. How I longed for a chance to tackle the Weatherly-Plains Road, just to see what it would be like to slay that beast on a steed like this. That experience would have to wait, however -- at least until I had enough money in my pocket to bring it home. I wheeled it back inside, and let the feeling of riding it burn in my mind. That feeling is going to have to last a few months, while I slowly save up.

As I wheeled my Frankenbike out of the shop, it felt even heavier than before. The back wheel dragged, and I no longer wondered how I was going to fix it, but how I would get rid of it. It would be nice just to get the bike back in working order, just enough to sell it off, but there's no way I could get enough money to make the investment worth it, especially as I could be putting that money into saving up for the Defy.

Last night, I went to bed with visions of the Defy in my mind. Soon, my pretty. Soon.


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