Let’s see . . . this time last week I was pounding out my screed of resignation.
Convinced there was no perfect bike, that everything approaching perfection was more than I would spend right now, that I’d just enjoy the coming months dreaming about bikes I’d never buy. At least that way, when the time came (and the pennies added up) I would really know what I wanted. And maybe, once I knew what to look for, I could find a used bike that did the necessary-to-me.
Meanwhile, I intended to have fun trying out every likely bike I could get my hands (and et cetera) on, blogging happily about each one.
Meanwhile, I would be glad I did already have a just-fine bike that worked just fine. And I would enjoy the rides. The riding above all! would be my rallying cry.
A prudent plan.
Eating crow has never been so pleasant.
Of course that this bike is in my garage now means there will not be a tandem for my 9 year-old son to ride for our annual coast ride – which is what we had been planning with that little nest-egg. He’s too big for the Tag-along this year but not quite strong enough to bike the 80+ miles in one day solo. His older sisters didn’t do it until they were 11. So we’ve got two years probably to patch over.
Husband thought a tandem would fit the bill. We’d get a telescoping tandem and then he and I could also ride it together. I’ve suspected that on some unspoken and symbolic level part of him likes this idea - him steering and out in front, me steadily keeping in perfect cadence from behind. It would at least be a novel situation for us.
But, “We’ll just rent a tandem for that weekend,” he said this weekend. “You’ve never been that excited about a tandem anyway, have you?”
I think it tickled him, this fever of enthusiasm that began years back as a mild obsession for the Rivendell catalog. This past year, as my fascination with vintage bikes and Dutch bikes grew, he’d grin to hear me talking headstems and downtubes and researching internal hub gearing.
I don’t usually want things. “People are more important than things,” my children will chant back at me, forestalling me, knowing I’m about to say it. Have I mocked (gently but ever so self-righteously) other’s (like husband’s) material (including bikely) obsessions?
I’ve ridden the Oma four of the six days since bringing her home. I have not used my car except after dark. And without much thinking about it, I’ve simply started out five to ten minutes earlier so that I am not even tempted not to ride the Oma. She is indeed a heavy bike and on her I am slightly slower. But there is such a silvery feeling to riding her. (And I’m already thinking of her as a “she”)
I whispered to my 16 year-old daughter (we were supposed to be listening to the speaker) that I couldn’t believe it but I suddenly understood this urge people have to wrap silk flowers around the handlebars.
“Why stop there?” she whispered back. “Get some plastic grapes and go for a cornucopia.”
“My desire drives me” a poet I admire wrote yesterday on her blog. And it is true.
This bicycle is the one I’ve always wanted since I saw an elegant Belgian woman stop at a traffic light on just such a bike – long black coat, high-heeled boots, a swooping skirt and a scarf around her neck, her hair in a twist with tendrils coming down. Though I have not thought of it before, I realize, counting back, that this was the moment my tepid re-interest in biking warmed.
There are other beautiful bikes. But what I love about this one is that the beauty is so understated. “It seems to be quite a workhorse,” said my husband when I showed it to him, all glowing eyes I’m sure.
It is an Oma, a Gramma, a Granny. A WorkCycle. That sounds reassuringly practical. She doesn’t look alarmingly new. Everything from the silvery ride to the bright back light and the way the front hub-generated light works so well bespeaks good design and good construction, but all that is an invisible elegance. And practical – did I mention that?
I sometimes think I ought to feel guilty for spending so much money on a bike. And then next thing I know I’ve set off again, pedalling away and find myself laughing out loud.
Today for the first time I had some trouble with the gears slipping – third won’t even hold and fifth keeps losing its grip. But instead of irritation as at malfunctioning machinery, I felt grief -
What is wrong with my beautiful bike? Does this mean I can’t ride Oma tomorrow?
For a block or two I idly wondered if the Oma had been sabotaged . . .
. . . by my displaced Specialized hybrid? (whom I did name ten years ago, never telling anyone much, because who names their bikes?!)
The next few blocks I wondered how it would be to live in a society where every thing we made and used seemed as invested with personality? Seemed somehow alive.
A call for help to Clever Cycles reassured me that this gear slipping is normal in a new bike – it’s just the cables being stretched out. (Usually it takes a little longer than three or four days. I’m guessing it’s the massive hills I’m working my way up ).
I can bring it in Saturday and they’ll fix it. And yes, I can keep riding until then without doing Oma damage.
On the down side, having found my dream machine so soon really does drastically simplify my plans for this blog . . .