Tuesday, October 7, 2008


First, please excuse my lengthy absence. Unlike my friend, the Cyclosaur, it's not that I haven't been riding. I've been riding more than ever. In fact, it's all the riding and thinking about riding that has made any effort to put riding into words seem so futile.

The truth is, I've been in a very excellent place vis a vis gliding along on two wheels.

It started with some changes. I believe I wrote a few weeks back about having popped a chain and then getting a new chain and that new chain grinding horribly against the chain ring, and anyway if I didn't, I should have, cause that's what happened. And I spent some days riding around with a 15mm socket wrench trying to get the grinding to go away by adjusting and readjusting and rereadjusting the chainline, all to no avail. I then flipped my wheel to the fixed ring, and VOILA, no more grind.

So I've been riding fixed, something I previously chose not to do, because I thought it was unsafe.

But my bike mechanic said something to me the night he replaced my chain that finally settled in about three days later, which is, "look, you say you have more control when you ride free, because you can stop pedaling, but the truth is you have less control. When you're fixed you can stop with your legs AND with your brake. When you're free you only have the brake, and you're almost guaranteed to go over the bars if you use it."

So I'm riding fixed. It's a change, and I'm learning to control the bike better, and I actually feel very comfortable with it now. What I needed to do was accept the change, to ride a different way and learn something new and see what I thought about it afterwards. I think I've spent too much time thinking I knew how to ride.

I don't.

I think I could pedal my whole life and only scratch the surface of it.

So then the other night I was looking at my handlebars (bullhorns with a single MTB brake lever mounted on the left), and I decided, on a whim, to swap out for straight bars. Again, at first I was uncomfortable, I'd lost the hand position I used to sprint and climb in, and I thought that was going to be intolerable.

Instead, I learned a new way to sprint and to climb, and what the straight bars give me is better lateral control of the bike. It's neat, not better or worse, just different.

And as a result of making some changes and learning about the way the ride is different, I'm really enjoying riding even more than I was before. It's motivating me to spend even more time in the saddle, and it strikes me that the worst thing I can do for my riding is to ever believe I know what I like, that I know how to ride a bike, that there is nothing new for me to discover.

Rather, I need to seek experience. I need to ride more, in different ways, on different routes, with a different attitude.

That is all.

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