This Huffy cruiser bike is a wheel of a deal |

This Huffy cruiser bike is a wheel of a deal

As a victim of the auto disincentives handed down by transportation officials over the past several years, I have relied on my trusty bicycle to get from point A to point B.

If you think getting around Aspen is difficult in your car, try living in Los Angeles. During the five years I lived in Santa Monica, an 8-square-mile beach town on L.A.’s west side, I think I put only about 1,000 miles on my car.

I estimate that I’ve put at least double that on my Huffy Starliner beach cruiser since 2003, when I bought the bike at Toys R Us for $109.99. I named the bike after Arianna Huffington, who was running for governor of California along with Arnold Schwarzenegger during the Gray Davis recall.

Arianna has held up remarkably over the years, especially considering the abuse I have subjected her to. She has been left for days in the rain, sleet and snow in both California and Aspen. She has been vandalized by homeless people and has taken a few spills on late-night rides home from the bars.

I was forced to buy Arianna after a homeless person stole my other Huffy (it’s customary in Santa Monica to blame virtually everything on the homeless). But I went to a few bike shops and all the cruisers cost between $300 and $1,000.

Knowing how hard I am on my gear, and given the strong likelihood that my next bike could be stolen, I opted for the Starliner, thinking I’d probably ride it for a year. But Arianna has carried me to news assignments faster than any car could. Unlike Aspen, Santa Monica had actual news and my reliable bike got me to bank robberies, fires and murder scenes faster than the responding authorities. I literally passed fire engines on the way to various scenes.

When I moved back to Aspen in 2006, I shipped Arianna. She has held up well, even through the cold winter months. She has a bit of rust on the fenders and the seat has cracked, but that was easily fixed with duct tape.

Beyond serving as a practical mode of transportation, Arianna has given me plenty of good times riding along the Pacific Ocean on the famous strand that stretches from Malibu to Manhattan Beach. Now she takes me on long rides along the Roaring Fork River on the Rio Grande Trail.

I took her up Independence Pass this week but she has just one gear and bogged down going uphill. It was still a pleasant ride, though, especially considering how the serious road bikers stared as they passed me on their expensive bikes in their ridiculous clothes.

Little did they know that my bike was taken off the showroom floor next to the infant section at a toy store.

There’s a reason Huffy has been around since 1894. This bike is an inexpensive alternative that was built to last. Huffys are sold at Target and Sports Authority.

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