Exercise bikes come in cycles

February 04, 1994|By Kevin Cowherd

I'll tell you what Nancy and I can't talk about anymore: exercise bicycles.

You don't hear of too many couples with this problem. But when someone mentions exercise bikes in our house, it's always followed by a loud argument and someone stomping away and a door being slammed.

Fifteen years ago, when we lived in a small town in upstate New York, Nancy announced she was giving up jogging.

"All you hear about are muggers and rapists and serial killers," she said.

"There are only 14 people in this town," I said. "It's very safe."

"Let's buy an exercise bike," she said.

"Fine," I said.

I was newly married at the time and didn't want to make waves.

When you're newly married, your wife could say: "I'm thinking of getting a large pony and keeping him in the kitchen" and your reply would be: "Fine. I don't have a problem with that."

So we bought this exercise bike from Sears. It cost $185. It came in three boxes and needed "some assembly."

When it comes to being handy, I can barely work a shower curtain. I finished assembling this thing at 11:30 at night and collapsed on the floor in a sweaty, exhausted heap. My wife stepped over me to turn on Johnny Carson.

Anyway, she used the exercise bike for about three days. She likes to tell people that she used it for three months. But believe me, it was about three days.

Then one morning she came downstairs in her sweat suit and announced she was resuming jogging.

"What about the muggers and rapists and serial killers?" I asked.

"That whole story was overblown," she said. "You vultures in the media are scaring the daylights out of people."

In any event, she never used the exercise bike again. It sat there for months gathering dust. We finally sold it to a sad-eyed nun at a neighborhood garage sale.

Well, I say "sold" it, but that's not exactly what happened.

What happened was, this sad-eyed nun spent 20 minutes staring at the bike while telling me about her order's work with orphans and seriously ill children.

Finally I couldn't take it anymore and said: "Here, Sister, take the bike. Now you have to leave, because all my customers are getting depressed. And when they're depressed they won't buy lTC my Paul Revere and the Raiders albums and velvet Elvis paintings."

She thanked me and her sad eyes seemed to brighten. By the time I carried the bike to her car, she was whistling a show tune from "Oklahoma."

Heck, I'd whistle, too, if I'd just gotten a $185 dollar exercise bike for free.

Then about eight years ago, after we had moved to Maryland, Nancy came to me and said all the mugging, raping and serial killing was completely out of hand again. She wanted another exercise bike.

As I was no longer newly married, it was permissible to be bitter and sarcastic.

"Maybe you could track down that nun," I said.

I thought this was pretty clever. But she didn't speak to me for a week and the silence drove me crazy.

So we bought another exercise bike. This one was from J.C. Penney. Boy, it was beautiful. It cost $179. It had a nice cushioned seat and all sorts of gizmos.

Nancy used it for two weeks. Then she started going to these aerobics classes at the Y, where they apparently didn't allow any muggers, rapists or serial killers.

She never rode the bike again. It ended up in the laundry room with a bottle of Clorox on the seat. We sold it to our next-door neighbor for a song.

Seven years of relative peace went by. Then last October, Nancy said: "Boy, this is some crime wave. Even going to the health club scares me. Let's buy an exercise bike."

"Please," I said. "Don't even start."

But I came home one day and there was this exercise bike from Herman's or somewhere. She paid $159 for it. This time she used it for two months.

When the holidays came, she abandoned exercise altogether. She said it took up too much time.

So now we have an exercise bike that nobody uses sitting in the corner of our family room.

You can have it if you want it. All you have to do is pay me a lousy $60 and it's yours.

That's not bad when you consider what we paid for it, back when there were muggers and rapists and serial killers apparently hanging out on my sidewalk.

Think about it. It's a great deal.

Although if you're not interested right now, I'll probably be selling another one in a few years.

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