Monday, May 08, 2006


I’ve hauled an old friend out of the cryogenic freezer this past week: my fire-engine-red c. 1990 Cannondale road bike. For a long while, back there, biking was a large part of my life. At times I commuted to work or school by bike, lived car-free in Major Metropolitan Area, and rode long trips with friends or led them for kids. The Cannondale (which was my sixth bike) and I traveled from the Oregon coast to Denver via Montana, from San Diego to Santa Fe, and four thousand-mile jaunts through Colorado and Utah.

Then in 1996 road biking came to an abrupt end. I’m not sure quite why—multifactorial, I suppose. I moved to live on a succession of dirt roads (and much later, to a smallish city.) I no longer had chunks of free time in the summers. The non-profit bike-tour group I’d started had one really rotten trip, then came to an abrupt and acrimonious end-- as did an engagement which was peripherally related. I found other pursuits on snow and water. The red bike languished in one cellar after another. Now it’s been a decade since I did what used to be second nature: put a tent and sleeping bag on my bike and ride into the sunset.

But lately there’s been some bike fervor around the TurboPalace, and it inspired me to get the old nag out and see if she still could run. I’ve been riding out to the lighthouse, and around the city, and it feels good. Well, except certain areas.

Here’s what’s happened since I was last a serious cyclist:

1) They invented clipless pedals. I need to go find some of these new-fangled gadgets. Yesterday I forgot I was locked in to my toe clips, and crashed sideways from a standstill at a crosswalk. That was embarrassing and moderately painful.

2) They changed all the wheels from 27” to 700mm. And pretty much stopped making fast, high-quality 27” tires. Which may mean I have to buy new wheels in order to buy new tires.

3) They doubled or tripled the price of a bicycle. I thought maybe I’d buy a whole new bike, seeing as I was heading for new pedals and new wheels-- till I got the sticker shock. Then I looked on eBay, where I found Cannondales a year or two older than mine listed as “vintage” bicycles and got truly depressed. Where did the years go?

4) They made everything lighter. Roommate’s boyfriend has a cyclocross bike with 14-spoke wheels. My wheels have 40 spokes.

5) The gel in my gel saddle evaporated or turned to rock. Meanwhile, I lost a certain amount of padding in the corresponding anatomical region. This needs to be rectified. So I’m drinking more beer.

6) Pearl Izumi started making bike jerseys featuring Cookie Monster and Oscar The Grouch. This alone is enough reason to get back into biking.

See you out there?


Anonymous Johanna said...

You fell over with toeclips?
I can't *wait* til you get clipless pedals. That will be an entertaining time for blog readers.

5/8/06, 10:14 PM  
Blogger Katinka said... too? I already have another couple of friends telling me I need to get a bike so I can join them. But the Oscar the Grouch jersey is pretty tempting :P

5/9/06, 3:57 AM  

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