Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cure Not Found

I’m developing a split personality on my bike. One side of me is honestly the finest, most courteous citizen ever to have a steel cyclocross frame between his legs. The other side is the rankest, most irascible jackass in the history of recreational cycling.

Let me explain: I’m moving soon, heading east out of San Fernando Valley and closer to downtown Los Angeles (how’s that for failing for reveal my precise location?), and I’ve been taking my last few rides on the regular routes I’ve developed over the previous six months. This has given me occasion, predictably enough, to take stock. For one thing, in the last half a year, I have not ridden a road bike once, except for on the indoor trainer (sometimes the air quality is so horseshit in Southern California that you have no choice but to ride inside), because I have chosen instead to roll around my environs exclusively on my cyclocross bike. In theory, a person who rides a cyclocross bike should be mellow, quiet, friendly, a sort of St. Francis of Assisi on two wheels. But in actual practice things don’t work out that way. Some rides, I’ve been on the mountain bike trails Topanga State Park, in the Santa Monica Mountains, and while a cyclocross bike can indeed handle some amazingly technical trails (especially when there’s a better rider than me handling these trails), a real mountain bike with suspension is far superior on the trails than a cross bike. Hence, when I’m carefully descending a steep trail and three sixty-five-year-old ladies in T-shirts and khaki shorts come bombing past me at twice my rate of speed, something of the St. Francis in me feels like shooting a song bird with a deer rifle. Similarly, when I’ve been riding my cross bike on asphalt, in Encino’s lovely Balboa Park, I frequently have been dropped (well, put into momentary difficulty) by little old men on road bikes. I guess you get what you pay for, right? And I should accept the drawbacks of my cyclocross-bike lifestyle and not be grumpy about it. Instead, I have ended up duking it out with any number of little old men and little old ladies, catching their wheel, attacking them, making myself feel like the king. However, when I’m riding all alone and not under threat of any other cyclist, I wave at people, smile at babies, and say hello to small dogs of the sort that I deep down would like to take to the ocean, put hooks on them, and see if I could catch a shark.

Maybe it’s all over, that kind of behavior. I’ll be riding in Griffith Park and around the Rose Bowl and so on next. Maybe I’ll finally quit taking the bait when it’s set out in front of me and become the calm, saintly, smiling dude on a cyclocross bike I’ve always wanted to be.

Somehow, I doubt it.

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