The Hard And The Soft Of It

Between the colors and the leaky sinuses there’s no denying that spring has sprung:

And so what better way to celebrate than to ride an actual spring?

I’d be lying if I were to tell you the Softride had been my first choice of bike for my Sunday ride. However, after reconfiguring the cockpit there was only one more glaring problem with the bike, that being the skipping drivetrain. And while I told myself I wasn’t going to fuss over it I did indeed wind up replacing the chain with a “new” one from my Drawer Full of Chains. As you can tell from the sorry state of both my bikes and my person, I generally take sort of a “hands-off” approach to, well, pretty much everything. However, I do have a problem leaving a bike alone until its running to my admittedly low standards, and with the skipping now cured thanks to the chain swap I wanted to put a proper ride on the thing so I could check that box with a permanent marker, so to speak.

And so I embarked upon a 30-ish mile jaunt that would take me through no fewer than two (2) mountain bike spots, as well as an ample helping of Transitional Bonus Dirt:

And no, I wasn’t drinking from the CamelBak, I was merely using it as a backpack since the Softride won’t accept a normal saddle bag. As for drinking from a tube while sitting on a beam, it’s still a little early in the season for that level of dorkitude…but I’ll get there.

Alas, my route did also require some pavement time, and with the weather now turning the bike path was replete with roadies:

I’m sure the very sight of me astride that giant lizard tongue filled them with horror, and if you look under my armpit you can see one roadie waving another around the hideous obstacle that I am:

“SOFTRIDER UP!!!,” he failed to scream, but probably should have.

My first stop was the Trails Behind The Mall, where it appeared REI were doing some sort of full-suspension bike demo:

I stopped and gave serious consideration to trying a bike–not because I wanted to, but because as a Semi-Professional Bike Blogger it felt like I’d be remiss not to do some sort of impromptu, tongue-in-cheek, Softride-Versus-Modern-Mountain-Bike shootout and then write about it. But to be perfectly honest by now I was warmed up and kinda feeling the freakbike, and switching bikes now felt like ridus interruptus:

Plus, I wasn’t wearing a helmet (deal with it) and knew that would be a whole thing what with their waivers and all, and I also didn’t want to have to remain in the confines of the Trails Behind The Mall, because the older I get the less interest I have in the riding-around-in-circles style of mountain biking; I’d much rather cover more ground, string together various parks, and take in “curated highlights” of each one. Sticking to one place on a mountain bike is really born of driving to the trail, and once you break out of that it’s hard to go back.

So in other words, screw you, all you get is more crappy Softride content–but at least it’s multimedia content!

It took me hours to train that chipmunk to hold a camera, but it was worth it.

As for the Softride…well I can’t help liking the damn thing:

Really, the most challenging thing about riding it is the steep-by-modern-standards front end and the small-by-modern-standards wheels and tires, which do not inspire tremendous confidence when it’s time to roll over stuff, and which threaten to pitch you forward when you roll across a tiny stream that’s a couple inches deeper than you expected. Otherwise, it’s snappy and enjoyably chipmunk-like, and as a resolute contrarian I do derive a perverse sense of satisfaction being seen on it, since it’s kind of like showing up to a wedding in a tuxedo shirt:

If I can eventually work my way up to riding the Softride while drinking from a CamelBak and wearing that jersey, I sincerely believe I will have attained a level of cycling enlightenment to which a precious few could ever so much as aspire.

To be clear, in no way am I saying you should run out and get a Softride…though I am saying if one wound up on your doorstep you should let it in, even if your first instinct is understandably to shoo it away with a broom. I’d even go so far as to say there are worse ways to blow $175:

Like, you could easily waste that boozing with your friends or gambling on ball sports. By the way, note the number of bids. I also like to think that this bike is being auctioned not because it was stolen and they can’t find the owner, but because it is in fact the primary conveyance of some master criminal. Drive around in a fancy car and you’ll immediately around suspicion, but there’s not a law enforcement agency in all of North America that would put a tail on that thing.

Though once you do know it’s a criminal’s bike they become very easy to spot. Between the beam and the saddle they’ve obviously got come crotchal comfort issues. So my first order of business would be to call around to all the local urologists.

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