A pseudo bike date

Sunday night we had a long overdue date night.  I’d read about Fork & Stix, a new Thai restaurant, in one of the recent foodie magazines (don’t remember if it was Feast or Sauce), and it’s been high on my list since then.  The restaurant’s location just off The Loop meshed well with another item that was high on my to-do list: ride the Kona Ute [longtail bicycle] at Big Shark.

We arrived to a packed bike shop thirty minutes before closing time.  With no hope of getting help anytime soon, we hunted for the Ute and MinUte.  We finally found the MinUte, which I mistook for the full-out Ute, near the back of the shop.  After a few minutes of standing there drooling on the bike failed to draw any sales associates, Matthew went to hunt someone down, while I decided to take matters into my own hands.

The bike was up on a small rack, so I decided to take it down for a better look.  In the course of doing so, I discovered that the front tire was completely flat — couldn’t ride it like that.  Sensing closing time approaching, I wanted the bike to be ready to ride, so I grabbed a nearby floor pump and started attempting to refill the tire.  My do-it-yourself efforts finally drew the attention of one of the mechanics, who came over and said he’d take the bike back and get it ready to ride.  Fine by me.

After what seemed an age — I guess the tube wasn’t holding air, so he had to change it — he rolled out the MinUte, and we headed out for our test ride.

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We had a few goals for this test ride: 1) Get me on the Ute; 2) see if the larger (20″) frame would work for me, since that frame size would be better for Matthew; and 3) see how the bikes felt with weight on the cargo racks.

We were two for three on those goals.  Unfortunately, after going nowhere for over a year, the Ute sold sometime in the month since Matthew rode it, so I didn’t actually get to ride a longtail.  The MinUte (i.e., mini-Ute, a regular bike with many of the heavy-duty cargo features of it’s larger sibling) gave me the chance to try the frame size (the 20″ was fine for me).

We then loaded the bike with human cargo, each taking a turn with the other as passenger on the rear rack.  An adult human passenger (especially with no foot rests or official hand-holds) is probably the trickiest cargo possible, with a high center of gravity and the natural inclination to react to, and attempt to compensate for, the bike’s movement, instead of leaving that task to the driver.  I enjoyed being a passenger, but felt pretty unstable operating the bike with Matthew on the back.

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This really is the smaller of the two bikes.  The angle here makes it look extra long, but I really thought the MinUte was the Ute at first.  The panniers, which come standard with the bike, totally rocked.

Now, for the dinner part of the date.  Fork & Stix is a small Thai restaurant, specializing in northern Thai cuisine.  We started our meal with the vegetable tempura appetizer and an order of [two very tiny] spring rolls.

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For our main course, we shared two dishes, Khao Soi (above), a soup which is a northern Thai specialty, and Pad Thai, a more familiar southern Thailand dish (all their other northern Thai dishes featured pork, so the Khao Soi was our main vegetarian option for trying northern Thai food).

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Both dishes were quite tasty, and it was fun to try something new.  It was not the best Thai food ever (Matthew recommends a restaurant in Salt Lake City for this), but a good meal nonetheless.

I think our next Thai outing will be to King & I, a restaurant I’ve never visited, due to Matthew’s being less-than-impressed with the food on a visit many years ago.  Given recent reviews I’ve read, I think it’s worth another try.

I would have loved to cycle to the bike shop and our dinner destination, but a tight schedule that involved dropping Sir off at grandma’s, [Matthew] sneaking in a thirty-minute gardening blitz, and getting to Big Shark before they closed at five left no time for that.  In some situations you can travel faster on a bike than in a car, but this was not one of them.

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