After two months off my Raleigh, I can’t begin to describe how good it felt to get back on this bike. I do love The Gazelle, but after riding a heavy Dutch bike around, getting on my sprightly little British number felt like going from a limo to an MG. I just wanted to zip around and shift a lot and stand up so I could pump the bike up hills (that I could really have ridden up without doing that) and shout with joy about everything.
FLVE’s saddle treatment had worked. The saddle was much softer. I just need to get over my fear of over-Proofriding my saddle. I don’t want the dang thing to soften out of shape and sag, but really, I haven’t been very logical about this. A little Proofride will not hurt it. I think.
Here’s my new vintage shifter:
It has red trim. The old one had white trim. Somewhere, Antiques Roadshow just devalued my bike by like… $15.
Since I needed black bike shorts to ride my oily saddle, I had to head back home from FLVE’s shop before I could ride. I changed like the wind and headed down to the Cedar River trail. It was a gorgeous day, warm but not hot, with a bit of haze to keep things from getting uncomfortable. The Raleigh rode like a dream! So fast! So maneuverable!
I had forgotten how much I loved the scruffy paint, the dented fenders, the dirty little saddlebag with its buttons. And that the bike just says: “GO GO GO!”
Isn’t it ADORABLE? I feel, right or wrong, that The Raleigh is almost as cute as my cat. You be the judge:
Okay, there’s really no contest. I mean, she’s a CAT. The interwebs has confirmed that cats are the cutest things on earth, and as we know, the interwebs knows all. But The Raleigh is pretty dang close.
If The Gazelle is a supermodel, The Raleigh is that girl-next-door type (not the ones in the movies, who are always supermodels in disguise, but the real ones, with too many freckles and gappy teeth in their adorable faces). The Wee Boy, who at eight years-old has a cuteness nearing that of the cat, is best friends with a girl like this. Her mom and I are already planning the wedding.
I decided, on the girl-next-door theme here, to try a self-portrait, which I haven’t done in a while. I was not really successful.
I look like one of those big-eyed sad children posters in that second one. And as usual, one eyebrow is far higher than the other. One side of my face is slightly paralyzed from nerve damage, and I always notice it when I try to look at all ironic. If I smile all the way, I’m okay, but the half-smile makes me look vaguely uneven.
I may be overly critical.
The Raleigh suggested I photograph it, instead, as it doesn’t have any “bad angles.”
Anyway, riding: there have been some changes to the Cedar River Trail. As I approached the half-way point, I saw a sign noting that the trail was closed from August 8th – September 7th. Since this was September TWENTY-SIXTH, I thought I’d just ignore said sign, and keep riding. Until I reached this point:
Oh, NOW I get it. Doesn’t it look like the date was added by someone with a giant Sharpie? I used to have one at work in my drawer. It was called a “Sharpie Magnum.” The kids borrowed it once to make posters, but the smell got them high, so I had to throw it away. Perhaps I shouldn’t publish this fact. Teenagers around the country will start sniffing giant Sharpies and rot their brains.
At any rate, I decided “closure, schmosure” and kept riding. Nothing would stop me! As it turned out, there was a detour.
Now, for those of you who have never been to the Cedar River Trail, it parallels the scenic Cedar River (obviously), running between the river and Highway 164. As in HIGHWAY 164. As in 60 mph, if you’re lucky. The detour, of course, went out onto the shoulder of the highway. But to make things even more fun, the trail repair people had parked two enormous trucks in the middle of the shoulder, and set up the detour in the three feet remaining near the road, with little orange cones (because they magically protect riders from speeding vehicles, like Dashboard Jesuses [Jesusii?]).
That’s not nerve-wracking at all, really.
I braved it, for The Raleigh’s sake. And then we rode most of the rest of the trail, to about mile 12-13, before time dictated that I had to turn around. Part of the problem was my long conversation with a middle-aged guy on a long-board, who looked like he was both having a great time, and killing himself, simultaneously. As I turned around, I passed him again and he yelled “How many miles are left?” I told him. He groaned and kept going.
Feeling pressed for time, I realized I’d better put on the speed. Up until then, despite feeling like The Raleigh was super-fast, I’d actually been riding at a pretty leisurely trot. Ahead of me were three guys on race bikes. I decided to pace them.
This worked for about five miles, sort of. But while it lasted, I felt like this:
On the way back, after braving the detour again, I noticed that the giant culverts (of Panasonic-Bicycle-of-the-Gods Fame) had been taken away. The Raleigh and I were both sad about this, though The Raleigh will fully admit that its photos at the culverts were not nearly as good as The Panasonic’s were:
I can’t even find a good photo of The Raleigh next to those things. Ah well. Everything must change, I suppose.
In the end, I got back in time and felt great. I’d done somewhere between 24-26 miles, and nothing hurt. It was good to be back.
I know I put this photo in before. But it bears posting again, because… I like it.