Fly Like A…Something

If you won a pair of Redshift Arclight pedals from me they’re officially on their way to you as of this morning!

And when I say “on their way to you” I mean I mailed them, not that I’m delivering them by bike.

Then again, I was enjoying the Vengeance Bike so much yesterday I felt as though I could have ridden it all the way to Cincinnato and Sacramenti, the cities in which the winners reside:

It’s going on a year since I received the Vengeance Bike from Classic Cycle, which makes this the longest I’ve ever borrowed something from somebody without returning it–with the exception of stuff like CDs, which obviously I never returned at all. Of course CDs have since become obsolete so their owners no longer want them anyway, and the Vengeance Bike is a lot like a CD in that it seemed impossibly futuristic at the time but now looks almost comically dated. Today a CD is just a coaster, but if you’re old enough you remember holding one of those lightweight space discs in your hand for the first time, entranced as rainbows dancing upon its shiny surface surface. Then you watched as the machine silently swallowed it, and you listened as…the same low-fidelity crap you always listened to exploded from the speakers (if you listened to the same kind of music I did, that is), because crap is crap, whether rendered in analog or digital format. All things being equal, yes, obviously the medium matters quite a bit. However, when they are wildly disparate the medium becomes almost irrelevant, for the most crystalline recording cannot redeem the fundamentally inane, whereas Beethoven played even over a scratchy old phonograph is still Beethoven. Would you rather drink urine from a chalice, or fine wine from one of those little paper cups you squirt ketchup into at fast food places?

(The correct answer is “neither;” Dr. Pepper from a cold aluminum can is the very pinnacle of beverage-induced bliss–at least when you’re doing a big ride on a hot day.)

But is the rider the artist and the bicycle the medium? Or is the bicycle itself a work of art? I dunno. What I do know is that sometimes it’s possible to fall for a bicycle for reasons you cannot adequately explain or articulate. For awhile I’ve been grappling with the increasingly undeniable fact that this old plastic rattletrap (and it does literally rattle, I don’t know if it’s the internal cable guides or what, but it sounds like a can of spraypaint over rough surfaces) is currently my favorite road racing-type bicycle, and I enjoy the feel of it even more than that of the Litespeed, which was previously my favorite road racing-type bicycle. Maybe it’s some synergy of construction and components, or maybe it just accidentally happens to fit me just right in a way that other road bikes haven’t. I’ve never been particularly scientific about how I set up my bikes, I just ride them and move stuff around until it feels good, and sadly I lack the sort of keen analytical cycling mind and prehensile scranus that allows other bloggers to discern the frame angles of test bikes with deadly accuracy:

Oh please.

But yeah, on “paper” I’d never have given this thing the time of day apart to laugh at it, and yet it’s the bike I brought with me to Switzerland this past September because I decided if I was going on a week-long fantasy Fred bike vacation it was the road I wanted to ride above all others–even with a 42×21 low gear!

Weird indeed.

Of course there’s a difference between your favorite road racing-type bicycle and you’re favorite bicycle period. As much as I love the Vengeance Bike it’s quite limited in its utility; it’s not a bike you want to ride in normal clothes, or if you’re going to be getting on and off the bike beyond grabbing a coffee or taking a leak–and it’s obviously completely useless if you want to venture off-road. I don’t know if I could choose an absolute favorite bicycle, but the Homer might be my most capable, and is almost certainly my “nicest” bike in terms of both detail and ride quality–though that doesn’t mean I’m afraid to get it dirty:

In fact I very nearly took it to Switzerland, but I knew the trip would call for more of a race bike. It is however my default summer vacation bike:

Unlike the Vengeance Bike, I’m not surprised that I like it as much as I do, because it embodies the values I typically, uh, value in a bike. However, it still defies expectations…or at least the expectations of those aforementioned keen analytical cycling minds with the prehensile scranuses:

I will never for the life of me understand how anyone takes that website seriously.

But yes, this bike defies expectations, because even though the Taiwanese framebuilders who made it no doubt lack the interesting tattoos of their American counterparts, it is in no way a “lifeless pedaling tank:”

Certainly it’s no more lifeless than this bird is flightless:

I mean yeah, it appeared to be at first:

It also looked like a feathery Nosferatu:

But then it gathered itself and leaped into the air:

Spreading its wings, it left both the ground and its awkwardness behind:

What must it feel like to lever yourself aloft through sheer strength like this?

Does it feel like climbing a Swiss mountain on a rattly plastic bike in a 42×21?

More importantly, am I as badly in need of a pedicure as this thing is?

I like to imagine the answer to all these questions is “Yes:”

By the way, if any of you Ornithology Freds know what kind of bird that ugly fucker is please share it in the comments. I’m guessing turkey vulture, or maybe some kind of vampire pigeon. It’s not a Kestrel, I do know that.

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