I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7
Have you seen those “Sport” minivans? There’s something strange about a minivan with pinstriping down the side and a ridiculous little spoiler perched above its rear hatchback door. What actually makes a minivan a Sport version? Is it the spoiler? Is it the cherry red paint? I’ve also noticed Nautica-version and Eddie Bauer-version vehicles, and I think the only difference for those is the paint job is somehow tied to the clothing manufacturer. I’m guessing the Sport minivans don’t have turbocharged engines or magnificent handling or special tires, anyway.
I bring this up because… [Bike talk] the other day I switched from Davey, my delightful new road bike (with over 3,000 miles logged on it already since April), to Charlotte, my old mountain bike. I stripped Davey of his pedals and seat and dropped him off at Frank’s Spoke ‘n’ Wheel for the winter tune-up. Spoke ‘n’ Wheel treats Davey well, since I bought him there originally at the end of March—free tune-ups for a year! When he gets home, Davey will spend the next six months sitting comfortably inside, devoid of saddle and pedals, waiting for the weather to nicen up.
Unfortunately, although I’m very attached to Charlotte, she really isn’t in any hurry to get anywhere, even though I dropped $400 to get road bike-style handlebars, shifters, and brakes put on her. With that $400 upgrade (ironic, really, since I bought Charlotte for no more than $500 in 2001), I realized that I’d also have to replace Charlotte’s pedals and seat to bring her up to any serious rideability. Riding 13.5 miles nine times a week means I want to have as comfortable of a ride as possible—which I achieved that with Davey, thanks to clipless pedals, a Jett 143 saddle, a replacement stem, and a perfect bike fitting. Hence stripping Davey of his pedals and saddle. Friday afternoon I rode Charlotte over to Landry’s Cycle in Westborough and got Charlotte fitted out nicely. She needs a new stem too—apparently the size 90 is still too long, so we’re going down to 75; too bad they didn’t know that when I bought the size 90 with the new handlebars!—so that’s ordered and waiting.
All this outfitting Charlotte with road bike gear has given her something of an odd look. She’s got a heavy aluminum frame and wide slicks for tires, which are covered with huge wide fenders. A rack I try to avoid using perches over the rear fender. The eggbeater pedals aren’t too unusual on a mountain bike, but the road bike seat and drop handlebars sure look odd. She’s a strange beast now, but she’ll be perfect for winter riding: Wide, stable tires that I can outfit with new studded tires for serious snow riding; a heavier, rust-resistant frame that will easily handle nasty weather; fenders to protect me and the bike itself from salt-sand-grit-water nastiness; and of course two separate rear lights, a dazzlingly bright front headlight, and the Down Low Glow for visibility in the near total dark I’ll spend most of my time riding in. In short, I’ve converted Charlotte from a regular minivan to a minivan Sport, and Monday marks my first day commuting on her this season. I’ll try not to intimidate the cars.
I had an awkward thing happen to me yesterday, but I think I handled it alright. Since the beginning of November, I’ve gone with Ian to the little work out room in our apartment complex. He rides a stationary bike for 30 minutes, and I do my sit-ups and some pretty minimal weight lifting. I’m not trying to be Hercules, here; I just want to keep my arms from totally flabbing out.
So yesterday, we came into the work out room and a rather large, overweight lady was using one of the elliptical thingies. I immediately started my sit-ups. It felt like she was watching me, but I did my four reps of 25 as usual and moved on to the weights. As I was starting on my massive 12-lb weights, the lady said out of the blue, “You look really good.”
Brief awkward pause as I try to think of a way to accept her compliment without making her feel bad. “Er…thank you,” I finally said.
“How do you do it?” she asked.
“I ride my bike 26 miles a day,” I told her, then explained that I commute by bike.
“Even in winter?” (This is the response 99.9% of people give when they find out I commute by bike.)
“Yep,” I said. Then she asked if I was skinny to start with, and once again I didn’t really know what to say. So I just said yes, not getting into the whole anorexia/high school cross country thing. Then, feeling really bad, I added, “But I think what you’re doing is really harder than what I do. I’ve got my exercise built into my day; if I ride to work, I’ve got to get home somehow. You have to have the willpower to go to the gym, and it’s so easy not to do that.” I explained that I’d tried to run before bicycling, but I just didn’t have the strength of will to get myself out and going every day.
I think she felt gratified by that. We moved on to where I learned to lift weights—thank you, Karissa, back in 2005—my education, and what I did for a living. Then we had another awkward moment when I asked what she did, and she said, “Oh, right now I just work at Marshall’s down the road.” Gah! So I said, “At least you have a short commute,” or something. Then I finished my weights and escaped, leaving Ian to deal with the lady.
It was outrageously awkward. I’ll have to avoid the skin-tight bicyclist clothes when weight lifting in the future.