Just one bike

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A friend came over today and took a quick tour of the apartment. “Where are the rest of your bikes?” she asked.

“What do you mean?”

“I see your road bike, parked next to your bed. Nice. But where do you keep your other bikes?”

I had to tell her that’s all I got. No ‘cross bike in the storage locker, no MTB, no beach cruiser, no cool bike from back in the day.

Just one bike.

Mostly it’s because I’ve never been able to figure out how to ride more than one bike at a time, and also because of Scott Dickson, he of Paris-Brest-Paris fame. We were riding one day east of I-35 between San Marcos and Austin and I was well into my third bonk and according to Scott we were “almost home” and were “just going” to take a “little detour” right here to “get a couple of extra miles.”

Scott opined that it made no sense to have two bikes because all that meant is that neither one of them would be working perfectly.

That’s not to say I don’t like bikes or admire bikes or secretly wish I had a bunch of them. My friend Deb has a bunch of them. A whole bunch. She has a bicycle problem, in my estimation, one that she’s tried to remedy with a giant garage, to no avail.

Today I was almost overwhelmed with the urge to buy a second bike. Dave W. came by and showed off one cool bike, his Follis, made in 1392 or thereabouts. It has the coolest thing I’ve ever ridden: A hand-operated front derailleur.

follis1

You want to feel like the world’s baddest badass? When it gets time make the big meat sing, you don’t click no button or whack no handlebar shifter or even flip a lever on your down tube. Nah, you drop your entire fuggin’ arm down to the big chain ring and grab a big steel handle and prize your chain up onto the 53.

And when you go uphill, you reach down and manhandle it back.

It was surprising how smoothly it shifted. The bike had super narrow bars with cloth tape, just like the Nishiki International that Uncle Phil sold me back in October of 1982. The water bottle cage was up on the bars and the big, leather Brooks saddle was behind. It had a big, beefy Simplex derailleur and five — that’s the whole number between four and six — cogs on the freewheel. Yes, freewheel. Not “cassette.”

Spaghetti cables coming out of the brake hoods. Big goofy brakes that didn’t stop very well.

But it rode so smoothly, and wasn’t afraid of cracks, bumps, or deformities in the pavement. Rolled over that shit like a tank.

But what I really loved about that bike was the smile that came with it.

END

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