html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Not defensive.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Not defensive.

The guy at the bike store hurt my feelings. He didn't mean to, he was actually really nice. I guess he took too many phone calls this afternoon, 'cause when I walked in, he glanced at me and Clara and said "the bike that was out in the rain all winter, right?". WHAT? My Clara? Looks like a bike left out in the rain all winter? Clara?!?

It is so hard for me to get rid of my bike inferiority complex. I don't work on my own bike. I have Princess, for snooty fixed-gear cred, but I mostly ride Clara. I don't know about bikes, models or makes or designers. I don't have bike-themed stuff. Or bike gear. My bike still has her factory markings.

But here's the thing. I ride my bike. I ride Clara everywhere. If I go somewhere, it is on Clara. I ride at night and in the rain. When I'm with friends, we ride unless there's some reason to drive. I'm so smooth, locking her up. I bring her on trains and metros. I've been bumped by cars and driven off the road and still I ride. I've taken hard falls and know everyday that I'd rather be on my bike than in a car. I get the calm relaxation three or four strides into every ride. I steer with no hands. I hover at stoplights. I'm coming up on two years on my bike and still have no desire for a car.

I should believe that I belong in the bike community. I don't look like it. I don't know much about it. I don't race or build bikes or wear bike gear. Clara isn't special. But I ride my bike.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as I can tell from those obnoxious Friday evening bike rides in San Francisco, to fully belong to the bike community you have to run stoplights in front of buses and weave through pedestrians in crosswalks who have the right of way.

I speak as someone who identifies as a NOT car driver rather than a bike rider, though I do ride my bike to class and back every day. As a cyclist, I can't stand it when bikes violate traffic laws since it just makes cars more distrustful of me. I also can't stand it as occasional car passenger and even driver.

(I should note that I'm an equal opportunity hater. Is there a Bay Area law that makes blinkers illegal? Seriously, I have never seen a place where so few cars use blinkers. Changing lanes? Forget about it. Making a left turn at a four-way stop? 50-50 shot at best.)

--Alex F

8:13 PM  
Blogger Spungen said...

Yeah, you're right, there are a lot of bike snobs. You're a user rather than a flaunter.

I missed out on most of the bike thing at Davis, as I lacked either the friend network or the trust fund to afford a place close enough to bike to campus. And, like many Davis misfits, I moved to Sac after my first year.

And frankly, I've always been kind of cowardly about sharing the road on a bike with cars. So I can only bike on special bike paths, which there aren't many of.

9:05 PM  
Anonymous pseudonymous in nc said...

When more people ride bikes, bike snobs look silly. When everyone seems to have a tank-weight clanker (Amsterdam) or a beat-up road bike (college towns) it's the guy in the Cervelo spandex who sticks out.

So, don't worry. Bike store dickwads are few.

8:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would disagree. Clara does seem to be special. Very!

8:56 AM  
Anonymous dilletante said...

my favorite-ever piece of bike gear was something i saw on a very well-used bike with a fancy high-end frame and expensive components sitting outside a bike store: a piece of baling-wire pipe-clamped to the frame, extending back over the back wheel, to stiffen and hold up a thin strip cut from plasticized posterboard. it was basically the lightest usable fender, faked together from readily available junk by somebody who clearly rode his fancy racing bike all the time in real weather, and didn't care what it looked like as long as it worked.

if i raced, i'd want to be the sort of person who would make that fender. :)

2:25 PM  
Blogger Amanda Bee said...

The Critical Mass bait is so tempting, but ... but ... but. No. I'll just nibble at it is all.

I just went through the ringer with my bike and it started about like that. They gave it back thunking. I came back and said, you know, it kind of thunks.
They gave it back squeaking, and then it wouldn't stay in gear. So I went to another bike shop and I said "look, I ride everyday, I didn't even need a tune up but they say you're supposed to do these things so I did." Now look at me.

They put it on the stand spun the wheel, showed me how it was grating. Took the hub apart and showed me where it was pitted. Put my old cassette back on, the one with nothing wrong with it.

Now it runs like butter.

It takes a while to find a hairdresser you like. A masseuse. A gynecologist. A bike mechanic. These are personal relationships, as much as we don't expect them to be.

7:38 PM  
Anonymous doctorpat said...

As I was reading this post I stopped to ask a workmate if I could borrow his cotterless crank puller so I could strip down some bikes.

See, I have a 15 speed high end, but old, mountain bike that I got from someone who drove over my original, and then gave me her husband's out of (needless) guilt. However the pedals keep coming loose and I need a new crank.

And then I bought a road bike ($18), a real original 10 speed from the 1750s or so. Which is good on the motorways but needs more gears for the hills, and probably would be better with functional brakes.

Then I found a frame that someone left out as rubbish, it is actually rather new, with the latest indexing gears and some really nifty high end cogs, but a big buckle in the tubes and no wheels.

And someone took a road bike onto the local skateboard ramp, leaving it lying in the bushes with buckled wheels and frame.

So I'll strip them all down and rebuild into two bikes that will have mountain bike frames but are otherwise just heavy duty road bikes.

Now THAT will be something I can be proud of. (Assuming it works.)

3:54 PM  

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