Shoddily Shod

Yesterday I shared my latest Outside column, in which I make a flimsy philosophical argument that bikes can have souls.

Well, this one, anyway:

But while this bike may have a soul, that does not mean its rider has a brain. Indeed, this very morning I got dorked up in stretchy clothes and headed out for a post-publication victory lap astride said bike, only to find I couldn’t clip in:

This was odd. Granted, I tend not to replace my cleats on a timely basis, which means they’re generally in an advanced state of wear (you can get away with that sort of thing when you never actually sprint), but it’s never gotten to the point where the pedal flat-out rejected the cleat. So I lifted up my hoof to see what was up with the horseshoe, at which point I immediately realized the problem:

That of course is a mountain-style cleat, whereas I was attempting to attach myself to a bicycle with road-style pedals.

I’m not a complete bonehead, mind you, because I at least got one foot right:

By this time my riding window was rapidly closing. I was already outside, and while I keep my bicycles on street level, my shoes live way up in my 5th floor aerie. Had I merely worn mountain bike shoes instead of road shoes I could simply have switched bikes; however, rectifying this situation would at the very least require me to go back upstairs and change one of my shoes–or stay at street level and fit the bike with one (1) mountain bike pedal, which I briefly considered. For while nipping upstairs and pulling a quick Mister Rogers may seem like a straightforward affair, the Peapod truck was parked outside, meaning a neighbor was getting a grocery delivery and the elevator might be tied up for Lob knows how long.

Ultimately I did opt for the vertical trek, and while the upshot of all this was that my ride was a bit shorter than I’d like, a truncated ride is still better than no ride at all.

All of this does raise a fair question; namely, “Why don’t you just put mountain bike pedals on all your bikes?” This does make sense, and there was a time a few years back when I declared myself officially “over” road pedals. In fact, objectively speaking, I’m fully on board with foregoing foot retention in all its forms.

At the same time, being decisively past the halfway point of the average life expectancy for a US male, I’ve come to realize something about myself: I’m a terminal roadie. Nothing about road bikes makes any sense: the skinny tires, the stupid position, the awkward pedals…and yet I seem to revert to it just as surely as a spurned lover assumes the fetal position in order to have a good cry.

From this, I can only conclude that not only do bikes have souls, but Fredness is indeed congenital. However, while it may be congenital, I don’t think it’s hereditary, since as far as I know I have no full on Freds or Fredericas in my lineage. Perhaps then it’s better to classify it as a psychological order. Come to think of it, maybe it’s no different than reverting to the fetal position when confronting something traumatic, since the fetal position and the roadie position are fundamentally identical:


Aww, it looks like it’s holding a tiny pair of handlebars.

(Not sure about that negative Q-factor, though.)

By this same token, we can assume that those who adopt an upright riding position are fixated in the anal phase of development:

To wit:

Whilst the prone recumbent rider is simply in a state of deep and profound denial:

Note how he refuses to look directly at life, instead viewing it through a series of mirrors:

Though, honestly, can you blame him?

Lastly, only tangentially related, I figured I’d share:

He does spend quite awhile at Specialized, which at first worried me, but ultimately he did put the whole high-performance thing in its proper context. I did kind of wish he’d visited Rivendell, though a conversation between Jeff Goldblum and Grant Petersen would probably tear a giant hole in the space-time continuum and suck us all through it.

Actually, maybe all this has already happened, which would explain a lot.

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