Monday, June 16, 2008

Road bike blues




I miss my road bike. I’m thinking about buying a new one. Why did I sell my last one? I ask myself this frequently. It was a great bike—it fit me well, it was light, comfortable…all the good things. But, I wanted to upgrade my mt. bike, which I don’t regret—but I sold my road bike to help pay for it.

I miss bikes, a lot right now. When I lived in San Luis, bikes were my life. Seriously. My whole social life, my friends, my free time, all of our conversations revolved around...yup. Bikes. I hardly ever drove my car—there was no need. SLO is replete with bike lanes, and drivers are considerate to bikers (usually), so unless I was buying a ton of groceries, I rode one of my three commuters around town.

Back then, I had five bikes, which were all crammed in the kitchen/living room of my small apartment. At one point, I lived with another girl from my cycling team. Between the two of us, we had eight bikes in that apartment. It was kind of a mess. But we loved it.

For a while, one of my rides was a fixed-gear--this was before fixies were all trendy to ride in cities. Anyways, one day, my buddy Chris and I decided that we should ride a century on our fixies. Bad idea. Fortunately, we scrapped that plan after a 50-mile training ride on the fixies. We realized that knees are important in life. Fixies beat up your knees big-time because your legs never get a break.

My guy buddies and I would frequently go “street riding.” This consisted of riding our bikes around town and looking for concrete to jump off of. It often resulted in scraped knees/elbows/teeth. We also played our own version of bicycle polo. At first, we thought we were so clever—like we had invented the game. But then, I happened to be browsing the Internet, and lo and behold—it’s actually an official sport in some places, with registered leagues and rules. I preferred our rules. We used croquet mallets, and we would typically set up in a field, or sometimes, if we were feeling particularly invincible, a concrete basketball court. Goal posts were whatever we could find. Then, it was basically a free-for all. The only rule was that you had to have both feet on the pedals when hitting the ball or going after an opponent. Our version involved a lot of crashing into each other. And contusions. Beer was a great antiseptic for that.

And then there was the Beater Bash. (See pics: Pic 1: Serving of refreshments. Pic 2: Me with my protective gear. Pic 3: How we got the bikes to the top of Shooters.)The Beater Bash was an annual tradition that began after the police auction—when you could buy a cheap, trashed bike for cheap. The tradition was to drive to the top of Shooters, which is a pretty technical descent (flanked by cliff drop-offs, I might add), drink until you wouldn’t feel what was coming, and then descend into the abyss. Each year got a little crazier. The year I did it, the guys had resorted to duc-taping beer cans to their legs and top tubes—in case, you know, refreshments were needed for the trip down.
Three or four hours later, we would emerge into Poly Canyon, from Shooters. Mind you—Shooters is about a two-mile descent. Three or four hours could be considered an excessive amount of time to ride down, but considering how much alcohol was consumed at the top, it makes perfect sense. The point was to crash. A lot. And hopefully not feel it.

Some people tailgated in college. I live in the South now, where my office mates reminisce about football games and fantastic tailgating parties.

I reminisce about getting drunk and riding my bike down small cliffs.

And my dating life? Never a problem back then. The ratio was highly favorable for women in the biking world. I only dated cyclists. I'm still partial to guys with shaved legs and great calves.

So now I’m kind of a runner. My work schedule, location, convenience-issues, have all forced me to switch teams. But cycling will always, always be my first love—and, I’m hoping to re-kindle that flame by purchasing another road bike.

The Tour de France begins next month. July is my favorite time of year, for that reason. If I were President, or Queen, or whatever, I’d mandate that every able-bodied person get off his or her duff, commute to work/around town on bikes, and I’d make July an official holiday so that everyone could stay home and watch the tour.

That’s my official stump speech. If anyone asks.

1 comment:

Tamara Irminger-Underwood said...

I have a 1990 Trek carbon fiber road bike with Shimano 105 DOWNTUBE SHIFTERS!!!! for sale, CHEAP. It even has tires from 1993 on it, I'm sure you could get a few more miles from them :)