Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Boasting in First Person is so Vulgar.

I was thinking about cycling today and I was reminded of an email written several weeks ago. The recipient of the email suggested that I post it as a blog. So, here it is.

Picture this.
Last Friday afternoon, a bearded man takes off from the university on a customized red bicycle. It's single speed and has sawed off drop bars turned upside down so that they look like bull horns. While waiting at the intersection of 29th St and 16th Ave NW another cyclist comes up behind the bearded one.
"What gear ration are you using?" he asks.
"To tell you the truth, I'm not really sure. My roommate made this bike. When riding this bike I'm a bit of a fraud because it makes me look like a bike nut but I did not customize it nor do I know much about bikes."

The light turns green and the bearded man sets off, quickly to demonstrate that he may not be an expert in the mechanics of bicycles, but he does know how to make one go.

He races down the hill by Foothills Hospital, remembering another trip down that hill that ended in a unfortunate collision that ended the life of his road bike's back wheel. He turns through the neighbourhood while the other cyclist continues on to the intersection at Memorial Drive.

The bearded man crosses Memorial further east at a cross walk. Eastbound on the pathway he notices the inquisitive cyclist not too far behind him. Bearded Man crosses on the Crowchild Bridge and heads west to where the pathway heads up a steep gradient, a favourite hill of his that he used to do daily on his work commute. Normally he pushes himself up this hill, but on rare occasions he is a bit lazier upon his ascent. Not today though, he powers up as fast as possible, knowing that the cyclist following behind is aware that he only has one speed to work with. He makes it to the top of the hill still ahead of the other cyclist, a bike commute regular. The other cyclist comments, "You're strong!" Bearded Man's attempts to casually shrug off the compliment are perhaps successful, though a keen observer of human emotion would note the pride written across his bristly countenance.

The two cyclist ride together talking "bikes" until their paths diverge and the bearded one goes to the market and the other to whither the road leads.

That same evening the Bearded Man makes his way home. He powers up a steep pathway that leads into Crescent Heights. Later he pulls up to an intersection. There are two lanes, the right lane, the one he occupies, is used for vehicles going straight or turning right. A car pulls up behind the bearded man, indicating right. Bearded Man, being a considerate sort of cyclist, moves tight to the car in the left lane, a car also going straight. This car is piloted by a young mother who has three young boys with her, two who are on the passenger side, one front and one in the rear seat. There attention is caught by the cyclist riding his bike on the road like a car. They call out "Hi" through the open window. Bearded Cyclist returns their salutations but then the light turns green and he is off like a bullet, easily beating the car off the line. He maintains his lead for at least half a block. The car catches up and the boys look in wonder at the man who can bike so fast. They probably didn't realize that he was riding an old, single speed mountain bike and that he could be considerably faster on a road bike.

Bearded Cyclist arrives to his house in Cambrian Heights. The ride from the market to home, including a quick stop to check the mail at his previous Chateau took less than 45 minutes. He proudly strides into the house. Lance Armstrong would be hard pressed to beat him, and would certainly fail in any type of facial hair-growing competition.