01.09.07

Mobile again!

Posted in Personal Anecdotes at 3:33 pm by Benjamin Ross

Today I did something I should have done several months ago. I bought a bike. This is actually the third bike I have bought in China. The first one I bought my first week in China when I was living in Fuqing for 500 RMB (about $60 US). With ten speeds, a basket, breaks that worked, and no rust, it was the radest and badest bicycle on campus. Fuqing was small enough that I with my spiffy little bike I could get almost anywhere in 20 minutes or less. Other than the chain’s tendency to fall off at random times, my first bike served me as well as any other means of transportation I have ever owned. When I moved to Fuzhou in Summer ’05, I took my bike with me for the one hour bus ride from Fuqing. I had to buy a ticket for my bike too. I got off at the Fuzhou South Bus Station and then road halfway across the city (which still only took about an hour) to the Agricultural University where I had just started working. Ironically, this first ride in Fuzhou was to be the last ride for me on my faithful transportation companion I had now owned for over a year. Two days later when I came out of my apartment to go for a ride, the bike was not there.

While living in Fuqing I had been warned several times about bike thieves, but the best I could do was to do as other Chinese did, which was to buy an iron lock and lock it around the frame and wheels of the bike. In theory, the bike could still be stolen, but the thief would have no way to get the lock off the frame, thus rendering the bike useless. Interestingly enough, there are no bike racks to lock your bike onto in China. In Fuzhou I had done just as I had done in Fuqing, and before I could even ride it once, my bike had been lifted.

A week later I purchased bike number 2. This one a blue ten speed which cost me only 200 RMB (about $25 US). It didn’t have as many bells and whistles as the first one, but still had a cool basket in back. A friend had told me that my other bike had probably been stolen because it was too fancy, and a cheaper bike would probably not be as appealing. (This theory was disproved a week later when my friend Todd’s second hand 50 RMB bike with no pedals was stolen). Bike number 2 served me as well, but unlike the first one, I walked it up 4 flights of stairs and parked it inside my apartment every time I rode it, rather than leaving it outside.

Later that semester, my colleague/neighbor/friend Wily also had his bike stolen from below our apartment complex. After this happened, we complained to the school, and they agreed to build us a little cage below our apartments to lock our bikes in at night. This seemed like a decent solution to the problem, and I began leaving my bike downstairs again, albeit still with the iron lock inside the locked cage. My other colleague/neighbor/friend Eric had also recently purchased a 3000 RMB ($350 USD) electric bike, and wasn’t so trusting of the “cage.” Fearing another thievery he routinely locked his bike inside the cage with 5 locks on it. We all thought he was crazy and told him he was a little too paranoid, until one day he showed up at my door with a half apologetic half jokingly “I told you so” manor and told me the lock on the cage had broken and my bike had been stolen. His was still in the cage, the thieves having only broken 2 of the 5 locks. Although I was obviously pissed my bike had stolen, I was a little amused at the lengths the thieves had gone to steal it.

I was planning on buying a new bike until another day when Eric knocked on my door again, this time he was obviously quite angered. His elaborate 5 lock scheme had finally succumbed to the skill of the Fuzhou bike stealing mafia. It was at this point I gave up and just decided to walk.

As much as I enjoy riding a bike, this wasn’t so terrible as the campus of the Agricultural University was outside of the city proper, so the only bike riding I really did was in campus, mainly going to and from class, shortening my commute from a 20 minute walk to a 7 minute bike ride. I have now been living inside Fuzhou proper for 2 months and today it finally hit me. “You live in China. The weather is nice. Traffic sucks. Why the fuck don’t you buy a bicycle?” So today I went out and picked out bicycle number 3. This one is the Oscar brand, which according to the guy I bought it from is the “best quality brand in China.” I tried to tell him that the bike will probably get stolen before it even has the chance to break, so I wasn’t too concerned about quality,” but this didn’t change his mind. “The Oscar is most suitable for you.” So Oscar it was, and so far (this includes the ride from the bike store home) I am quite satisfied. The kicker will be to see if it actually will still be there next time I want to ride it. I’ll keep you all posted.

11 Comments »

  1. Josh Rosenberg United States said,

    January 9, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    Great to see you blogging and looking forward to more stories! How tall is the Great Firewall of China anyhow?

  2. Hu Jin Tao China said,

    January 9, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    “it was the radest and badest bicycle on campus”, actually it was buttfuck ugly, and my erbaiwu 250 yuan bike was just as fast and absorbed front wheel shocks better. Now I have a Wolf brand bike that I paid around 650 yuan for. The seat was too low because the Chinese here have not seemed to figure out the principle of leg extension for getting maximum power in each stroke.

    Most of them putz around slowly like shriners on midget bikes. Anyway, I got this guy to give me a seat with a high base from one the new urban foldup bikes, which are designed for train and bus commuters. The seat is super soft and with its front wheel shocks, I’ve gotta say it’s the best bike I’ve ever owned. I keep it in my living room.

    -Ben’s old neighbor

  3. Matt Myers United States said,

    January 9, 2007 at 11:30 pm

    When I was in college, I knew a lot of people who would drop three grand on a bike and then would spend another $100 or so buying duct tape and stuff to make the bike look really bad. People would think it was some old and tired bike that wasn’t worth stealing and they managed to hold on to their pricey conveyance. Wonder if that’d work in China?

  4. Elly China said,

    January 9, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    Hve you got the conditional reflex that as soon as you look at the bike first instead of the person when you see a biker?

    Once someone “borrowed” my bike when I was in Xi’an, the next day I went to the “黑车市场” (dark bike market, literally) and saw my bike there. I went to the seller: “Hi, this is my bike, I think.” He nodded his head and said: “Ok, take it.” So I got my bike back.

  5. Michelle from Hangzhou China said,

    January 10, 2007 at 8:48 am

    Hello,Ben.
    Good to see your new blog here,talking about the bike ,i have owned one cool bike too in Hangzhou when i studied at the
    Zhejiang university of science and technology ,i used to hang out to the West Lake ,shopping with my friends ,but after one semester, it was stolen and i decided to give up buying another one ,instead of it ,i take the bus everyday to univerysity(i live outside of the campus,a nice apartment ).Antil Jan,2007 i have currently garduated from the university and i have got some offers .Finally i come to this company which specilized in exporting Autoparts.it is located in HZ too,so i will properly go back Fujian Province during the Spring Festival.

    Michelle from HZ

  6. T-bone China said,

    January 10, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    I feel you pain as well as your joy in getting a new bike. Good luck with the new endeavor and I hope the bike thieves don’t get their hands on your new aquisition, although I fear it is just a matter of time. If not, I too will make a purchase and begin riding around Fuzhou with you brother!

  7. james China said,

    January 19, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    礼义生于富足,盗贼出于贫穷。

  8. mmdytgq Korea Republic of said,

    April 17, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    cool site

  9. hrqnllk United States said,

    April 29, 2007 at 2:28 am

    cool site

  10. dawarrg Chile said,

    May 19, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    cool site for my mind its very good

  11. ispewbull China said,

    August 16, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    I had 4 bikes stolen in the US within 4 years, I had 2 bikes stolen in China within 2 years, so the rates are about the same.

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