Saturday, March 26, 2011

paper bag princess

"Ronald,” said Elizabeth, “your clothes are really pretty and your hair is all neat. You look like a real prince, but you are a bum.” They didn’t get married after all. 

The prettiest cars are just a signal that someone had coin to buy something expensive. Maybe they inherited money. Maybe the husband is a big hit in finance. In the end it's just a pretty car and if the person behind the wheel doesn't show any respect the car is less than worthless, it's a liability.

The prettiest bikes are about the same. If you don't ride it, it doesn't mean anything. The ugliest most slipshod bike is a beautiful star when it's handled by a fantastic bicyclist.

I got back into bicycling in California when the Contraption Captain loaned me an old Specialized mountain bike that someone had junked and then given to him. He fixed it up and before turning it over to me swapped out the knobby mountain bike tires for slicks, smooth hard[er] skinn[ier] tires small enough to fit a mountain bike. This thing was the shaggy dog of bicycles but I rode it until it fell apart. Contraption Captain restored it with new cranks and gears and chain and I rode it some more. Then I hitched a wagon to it and used it to take my kid home from preschool. I would do my laundry at the office (it's that kind of office) and bring the kid home in the wagon with my clean laundry in the wagon's trunk just behind her.

Despite riding a mountain bike with funny tires and pulling a five year old and a bunch of laundry I loved to try and get into it with the roadies. I was sitting at a red light when this flabby chick on a road bike shoaled me. Fine. Whatever. She turns and points at my wagon. "That must be a real wheel-suck." I stare at her. What had she just called my kid? A wheel-suck? I'll fucking wheel-suck you! She smiles at me in a patronizing way and pats her bicycle "carbon fiber" she murmurs, reverently.

Game on.

The light turns and I take off after her. No amount of carbon fiber will save your sorry ass when you don't train. She looks back. I'm drafting, my tiny mountain bike and wagon together, I'm barely pedaling. Every light we hit I am right there. She doesn't say anything. I don't either. She tries to pull ahead and I pace her exactly. When she finally turns off I fly by, wagon rolling along behind me, every bit as fast as an out-of-shape twenty something on an expensive bicycle.

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