In my previous post I wrote smugly about how I now do the majority of my riding in “regular” clothing and shoes. However, I also noted that any renunciation of the trappings of Fred-dom on my part generally precedes a Lycra bender. Well, guess what happened today:
Today my kids finally went back to school. For the last ten days, my kids’ school has been closed because someone sneezed or something. This has meant that on weekdays I could only ride in the wee hours of the morning. (I mean, can you imagine not being able to take long rides on a weekday? Talk about life being unfair!!!) Furthermore, even that sliver of time is not entirely mine anymore, since my son has acquired an affinity for early morning “Eye Of The Tiger” rides. Of course this pleases me greatly, and I know full well that it won’t be long before, instead of waking up early to ride with his old man, he’ll be waking up at 1pm and telling me to go fuck myself. So I appreciate every pedal stroke. At the same time, a semi-professional bike blogger needs to stretch his legs from time to time, and since the holidays mine have been feeling coiled up and itching to pounce, like a spring-loaded snake in a can of mixed nuts:
Someday some soigneur should totally do that with a water bottle during the Tour de France. “Why isn’t any water coming out?,” wonders thirsty rider. [Unscrews cap.] BBBOOOIIINNNGGG!!! [Rider takes out half the peloton.] HILARIOUS!*
Anyway, all of this is to say I was feeling the proverbial need for “speed,” to the extent that I am capable of it, as well as abundant miles with which to pad my Strava account. Furthermore, the weather was ideal for good old-fashioned road riding, by which I mean it was warm for January (40-ish American Freedom Degrees, give or take), and also misty but not raining, which meant the trails would be all squishy yet the roads would be quite tolerable. So I grabbed my crabon bike and even slipped on some crabon-soled shoes:
Though I made sure to temper all this by wearing a wool jersey as well as the schmatta Grant Petersen sent me at the start of The Pando:
Not only does a “compliance bandana” come in handy if I need to pop into a store for some gluten-free cookies (which I did today–$8 for four (4) cookies in case you’re wondering, not including the tip), but wearing a vestement around my neck bestowed upon me by the Godfather of Gargantuan Quill Stems himself is an ever-present reminder that I should never let myself slip too deeply into the wanton ways of Fredness. (I swear every time I shift those precision indexed Dura Ace STI levers the bandana gets just a little bit tighter.)
I am of the opinion that it’s important to own a road bike, just like it’s important to own a suit. I’m also of the opinion that, like suites, road bikes are most enjoyable when you don’t ride them all the time. It’s fun to get spiffed up once in awhile, but if you do it every day it can start to feel like work. Fortunately, since I’ve been doing very little road riding lately, I totally felt like this:
Indeed, before I knew it I’d “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”-d myself up to the
Mario Cuomo Tappan Zee Bridge, stopping only briefly to avail myself of the lavish bathroom facilities (the urinator and/or defecator is greeted by the state seal upon entering, as seen in the photo at the very top of this post), and to take a photo of the mist in which the bridge was enshrouded while ghostly vehicles whooshed by on the other side of the safety partition:
I then turned to photograph my generic crabon bicycle as it floated spectrally above the hazy Hudson:
Then I set the timer on my phone and took a photo of myself:
The resulting image suggests what you’d find if you left a camera in an ape enclosure. First the hirsute simian would gaze at it in stupid bewilderment, as you see above. Then he’d smash it, along with the plastic bicycle. Finally he’d sit in the corner nibbling forlornly on gluten-free cookies, perhaps absent-mindedly manipulating bits of broken crabon tubing with his prehensile toes.
But you’re not looking at just any old ape; you’re looking at an Old Crap Test Pilot!
Like my monkey forbears who were unwittingly launched into space, I too possess that rare combination of bravery and cluelessness. So how does an Old Crap Test Pilot rationalize riding a new crabon bicycle? Well, how can I properly analyze vintage bicycles without occasionally placing them in a modern context? Answer me that, smartass!
Anyway, I don’t know if it was the gluten-free cookies, or the Grant Petersen schmatta, or the soul-stirring yet shredded paper-evoking nature of the state motto (“Excelsior!”)–or perhaps the synergistic effect of all three–but after crossing over the bridge I danced giddily up the steep climbs above Nyack with an effortlessness I’ve rarely felt. While hardly off the beaten path for the New York City-area cyclist, I nevertheless always find these Nyack climbs quite beguiling. The road curves around rocky outcropping, there are those yellow squiggly-arrow road signs and stuff that make you feel like you’re in the country and not some stupid suburb, and with the trees bereft of leaves I had a commanding view of the more mundane terrain I usually ride when I don’t have time to go this far. Deer regarded me quizzically as I rocked my plastic bike back and forth on the steeper pitches, and I considered taking a photo of the tableau, but I didn’t want to stop and break the spell. In fact I didn’t touch my phone again until much later, when I stopped to take a photo of the spot where I once fell headlong into my own urine:
This time I’m pleased to report I managed to void my bladder while remaining upright.
The rest of the ride continued along this theme; never did I tire, and never did I grow bored of the familiar terrain. Even the handlebars of the plastic bike, which I’ve never been completely satisfied with, and which have always left my hands hurting a bit after long rides, always felt perfect in my gentle yet commanding grip. In fact there was only one solitary blemish on the whole outing, which occurred when I was nearly home:
Even that beaded off me like water on waxed canvas, and I arrived at my street just in time to greet the schoolbus.
May your ride this weekend be equally satisfying.
*Bike race crashes are not hilarious, I was being sarcastic. Please hold your complaints.