Sunday, December 27, 2009

Steel Dogs and Real Ones

This, friends and brethren, is my cyclocross bike. A true classic. Wisconsin steel. Mismatched wheels. Worn cranks. Dirty chain. Disintegrating handlebar tape. And check out the broken saddle! A disgrace. But the bike still runs just fine, or at least fine enough for my purposes, and I am amused and occasionally honored to be its owner. Besides, it’s the only functioning bike I own right now, which means, according to pure-cyclist logic, I’ve got to call it my honey or my baby and tell it don’t put my love on no shelf, et cetera. Christmas Day, I took it out for a monster dirt ride in the Santa Monica mountains – one of the coolest rides I’ve ever taken, with the sad exception of I was riding alone and when I’d meet hikers on the trails and say Merry Christmas, the hikers would glare me like I had said something wrong, which maybe I had. And a week from today, I’m going to race it at Hansen Dam Park in Los Angeles. Woohoo, no? Well, maybe yes, maybe no.

Lately, I’m attempting to develop a new theory of cycling, one where cycling is a value in the equation and not the solution set of the equation. The best cyclists I’ve ever known – and by ‘best’ I don’t necessarily mean fastest, I mean ‘purest’ - are like heroin addicts on two wheels: their life sucks without cycling. If they have to work in the afternoon instead of ride, they say they’re fucked. If they have to hang out with their families all day, both days of the weekend, they say they’re totally fucked. If they have to do anything that doesn’t involve cycling, they sulk and whine and piss and moan and make everybody’s lives miserable. You know what? That’s a bullshit way to live. Then again, the alternative, living without cycling, which is a lifestyle I tried adopting for almost a year recently, that’s bullshit, too. So I don’t know the answer. If a person can only ride eight to ten hours a week (tops), and if in this week a person wants to live like regular people do – consuming cheese and other joyously bad-for-cycling foods and drinks – this person is going to be on the receiving end of an ass-whipping on race day. And of course if a person trains twenty-five hours a week and counts calories and focuses completely on the sport of cycling, then this person will face an ass-whipping in one’s personal and professional life. Maybe this pertains just to me, but somehow I doubt it.

For the moment, I only know one thing about cycling for sure: My cross bike sure is sweet.

This is my dog Rocks. She’s pretty sweet, too.

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