31 December 2011

Just a Bit of Reflection

In the final gloaming of what felt like a breathlessly quick year, I'm browsing the internet, killing time before I don my party frock and go out dancing to celebrate the next calendar page. Fingers crossed the new year will be even better than the old.

2011 wasn't much of a growth year for me. Until I make some kind of substantial change in my life I'll be coasting on this flat, beautiful stretch of road, doing an effortless 28 mph with a tailwind. It's both comforting and suffocating, to know that I have to do so little to achieve happiness, but to know that I could do so much more. I discovered on Google Maps that Trader Joe's is an easy five mile commute from my aunt and uncle's house in Orinda, and aren't we all impressed with the heights of my ambition? I can shake up my peaceful little existence by moving somewhere and settling into another food retail job.

But then, some stuff happened this year. I visited some cool places, I experienced some minor successes on two wheels. My dear Subaru turned ten and hit 100,000 miles, my sister turned into a cool real person. Many dinners were cooked and enjoyed with friends, many customers were pleased with their BMB and B&B. I bought my first stupidly fancy bike, I embarked on my first "grown-up" trip to Europe. Not much to write home about, but I keep taking little steps forward. (Maybe. Or maybe I'm shimmying from side to side, or just hopping in place. Regardless, it's motion.)

Ignore the musings. Whether or not I do something drastic in the coming year, whether or not I race bikes or change jobs or meet life-altering people or move somewhere or buy a house or just cheerfully maintain status quo, I do sincerely hope it is a happy 2012 for us all.

14 December 2011

Disturbingly Accurate

thank you aaron for this gem:

you know, in case you needed a visual of sarah's and my ride the other day...

13 December 2011

Lisa and Savannah

Way back in the spring, the Specialized 2012 catalog was released and upon perusal I was appalled to see that the baby dinosaur had gone extinct...Specialized had replaced their XC full-suspension chick bike with some dumb hardtail 29er. Not cool, y'all. This meant that at some point in the future I would be forced to get a bike that wasn't an Era, and I wasn't happy about it. (First-world problems, amirite?) 

Skip ahead a couple months, and I had accidentally found the perfect buyer for the baby dino. And then, lo and behold, a 2010 Sworks Era popped up in the dusty clearance bin of the internet. Same year, same look, lots more plastic. I hemmed and hawed and accrued funds for a month before finally biting the bullet, and the Councilman was kind enough to let me take her out for the first time on Friday. 

After my amazing experience with the Yeti, I was a bit tentative about this purchase, my head full of preconceived notions about carbon bikes. They're more fragile, right? And they require a stern demeanor, and spandex, and they're probably a lot more businesslike. No more joyful gallivanting downhill and certainly no more slow easy climbs, right? This was a heavy mantle I was adopting.

Before she had even left the shop she'd been dubbed Lisa, which was definitely not my first choice, seeing as how it's also the name of my heavyset mustachioed lesbian neighbor who loves midnight furniture-moving sessions and audiobooks turned up to 11. But the appellation stuck, and I like to think of my Lisa as the antithesis of her Prius-driving namesake: spry, light, effervescent.
Anyway. She weighed in at 22.8 pounds, first of all. That's just stupid. We rode up Twin Falls and down Avery and I am surprised and pleased to say, the difference was huge. On technical climbs it felt like there was a direct circuit from my brain to the bike, and Lisa navigated each section with playful ease. Then we went downhill, and that was the real revelation; the fancy suspension performed flawlessly, the bike imperiously demanded bigger hits and faster cornering, and once again each move was intuitive. Who knew descending on an absurdly expensive XC rig could be so darn fun? Lisa had incinerated my expectations. 

The maiden voyage
Oh, but it gets better. Riding a fancy new bike was only half the fun. The baby dinosaur found herself in new hands, and is now operating under the name Savannah. My dear friend Sarah has been dragging the tired carcass of an ancient hardtail all over Pisgah for years, and I can think of no one more deserving or appreciative of a blinged-out Era than her. We got in a quick inaugural ride yesterday and Sarah was so, so, so, so, so stoked. ("It's so quiet!" "It's so fast!" "The brakes actually work!") Watch out WNC: that bike is a freaking game-changer and I'm afraid that pretty soon we're all going to have trouble keeping up with Gascan.

It's like Christmas, but better

05 December 2011

A Tale of Three Bikes

Tristan on his charger
Purely by chance I had the opportunity to ride three different bikes in quick succession this week. The baby dinosaur is at the doctor's getting its appendix removed so I've been forced to get creative when the mountain biking mood strikes. First T Cowie was kind enough to lend me his Stumpy. It was way fun to ride but I've never felt up to the task when I ride Stumpies...I do those burly big-travel bikes a disservice with my timidity and lack of skillz. Plus it was so clearly Tristan's bike: a bit too big, rock-hard suspension, brutal gearing, ass-hatchet saddle, super wide bars. Tough to control, like riding a big stallion when I'm used to my little filly.

Another day Morgan let me use her after-dinner mint, the By:Stickel. My first excursion on a 29er! Climbing Sycamore, all those magazine phrases popped unbidden into my head: "stable through corners", "riding inside the bike", "clambering over obstacles like a rock crawler". But also: "ouch". I don't love hardtails, nope. Simple as that. 
The after-dinner mint in its natural habitat 

Yesterday several of us hit up the quintessential Pisgah singletrack, a short out-and-back on Squirrel. My steed du jour was a Yeti 575 and thanks to Dan it was already set up just right when I hopped on it. And from then on the day only got better.

Oh. My. God. I can't even express the joy of riding that bike. It was a big bike that felt little, it was nimble and squishy and raucous and confidence-inspiring and more than happy to bang its intrepid way over babyheads and root baskets up and down. Oh. My. God. I was beaming at every intersection and plowing effortlessly through tech stuff that usually gives me a pause. Within thirty minutes I was plotting ways to purchase the beauty, and trying somehow to justify such a frivolous move. If I'm not careful it still might happen. I get so damn acquisitive when I hang out at the shop too much. I've constructed my armor of "why nots" to protect myself from the Yeti: I don't believe in having a stable full of mountain bikes because, you know, run what ya brung. I really don't like climbing slowly. I don't like bikes that cater to my weaknesses; I want to improve my descending the honest way, instead of just getting a bike that encourages sloppy (albeit wickedly fun) ripping. 
I love you. 

Oh yeah, also, I can't permit myself to lust after a new steed right now because, well, there's a box en route to Brevard even as I type...

Uh oh