Ah sunshine… it can cure so many ills, including an ill temper. I was a bit fussy about riding today, as I’m still so dang tired. Though I am officially a month past my surgery, I’m surprised by the level of exhaustion I’m still experiencing (I don’t know why I’m surprised, as they did remove a major organ). There’s more spring in my step than there was two weeks ago, but by the weekend, I’m wiped. I went to sleep about 11:30 Friday night, and awoke at 10:30 Saturday morning!
But the sun was shining, puffy clouds were puttering across the horizon, the Giant Thermometer on the Fence read a stunning 65 degrees, and no one was home but me. After a week of rain, it was like the world was dipped in honey.
I’ve been missing The Raleigh lately, as I haven’t felt quite ready for The Panasonic, but the Brooks saddles are still out of stock for my Industry Connection, so I had to bite the bullet and embrace the drop bars. Truthfully, I’d be nervous about lifting The Raleigh up and down off my bike rack at this point, anyway. That thing is a big ol’ British brick of a bike. Say that three times fast! Given how worn out I feel, and the necessity of riding this particular bike, I decided to stay with a familiar, close-in trail. I settled on the Cedar River Trail, but instead of starting at the end, where I usually begin my rides, I started half-way through, where I usually end them. In fact, I started at mile 7.5, which is just past where I ended my rainy ride a few weeks ago.
It turned out to be a wonderful day for riding. At first, my legs felt a bit leaden, and the air was nippy. I’ve discovered that putting on my gloves, rather than my jacket, helps mitigate this initial chill. After a few miles in the sun, I was able to take them off and leave them off for the rest of the ride. My legs loosened up, and though I’m still stopping far too frequently (photos make an excellent excuse), at least I’m moving!
About two miles into the ride, I pulled up alongside a group of folks preparing to head out. Even from a distance, one of the bikes stood out. This bike was a brilliant, gleaming coppery-orange, with glowing fenders and a distinctly vintage look. As I slowed to a stop (using the intersection as an excuse), I got a good gander at it. The bike was a Raleigh International, one of the most prized vintage Raleighs, in amazing condition. It had fully chromed lugs and mustache bars with shellacked tape and a croissant saddle bag! Good god, but that was one stunning bicycle. I had to ask about it. The gentleman preparing to ride it seemed a bit nonplussed by my attention to his steed (his wife was highly amused, however). This could have been because I was jumping up and down and babbling madly about the beauty of his bicycle. He let me take a photo, however, quite graciously.
Oh! It’s sooo… ahhh… <waving hands wildly>
I left the little group to ride on, and headed up the trail, my head filled with orange bikes. Perhaps, I thought, I could acquire one as well. You see, one of the kind gentlemen on Bike Forums has been hunting me down a real French porteur-style bicycle, after I ranted about the One That I Didn’t Buy. Since he lives in Paris, I’m not kidding about the “real” part of this. Vintage French bikes are naturally far less pricey in Paris than here, so even with shipping, it should work out to be an excellent deal. In my mind, tangerine porteurs were dancing by… tempting me…http://oldbike.wordpress.com/1956-terrot-ladies-bicycle/
Then I returned to reality. The trail was really very pretty in the sunshine: more rural than the other section I usually ride, with scattered old houses and fields running alongside the river.
Glacial melt-off had turned the water a mossy green, and I rode over several picturesque old railroad bridges. I wasn’t too thrilled with the paving on those bridges, which just about shook my fingers off, but the views were very charming. The Panasonic posed quite happily.
Ahead, I saw a sign which read: “pavement ends.” But, given the curve in the trail, this didn’t actually seem to be true. I stopped to take a photo, carefully avoiding photographing the gorgeous mom and teenage daughter who were passing at the same time. I don’t feel I have permission to take photos of other women’s behinds, and besides, theirs were too skinny and provided too much contrast to my own. A few feet after the curve of the trail, the pavement did indeed end, so I turned around and headed back toward my car. I hadn’t gone far: probably just 4 miles, but I wanted to keep my ride short, so I wouldn’t injure myself. Eight miles felt like it would be plenty.
The trail was busy with other folks. Kids waved to me, a man on a mountain bike flashed me a peace sign, and even the drunk guy sitting on the side of the trail talking to himself seemed to be in a good mood. It was impossible not to be cheerful. I felt like I needed a little flag or windsock to fly behind the bike, just to further illustrate my good mood. At one point I stretched out on the hoods of The Panasonic and just let ‘er rip, getting up to… well… somewhere well over the 10 mph posted speed limit on the trail. I’m no speed demon, but the moment was right to get up to a brisk clip. I tucked down toward the bars and zipped along until I was too tired to keep it up.
At the same spot where I’d seen the Raleigh International… I saw it again. There it sat, with the rider’s son standing next to it. I slowed down and said: “Are you doing this just to torture me?” He laughed, and explained that the bike had a broken spoke, and he was waiting with it while his dad went to… I’m not sure… whatever it is one does with a bike with a broken spoke. I expressed my sadness over this calamity, and he returned with: “Are those Suntour components?” I affirmed they were, and we had a very geeky bike chat. Seems he owns a Centurion from the same year as The Panasonic, and so we talked vintage Tange steel and 80’s saddles and such, and commiserated over the state of the poor International until I felt quite chilled again, and took my leave.
Here, we found an interesting bunch of old pipes to pose by. The Panasonic is blessed by the Gods of Cycling:
All in all, a very pleasant ride (for me, at least, if not for the owner of the orange Raleigh!). I saw a fabulously beautiful vintage ride, met a nice young man, and enjoyed a glorious springy afternoon. Perfect! Then I got home, opened my email, and there was my Parisian Supplier, with a picture of this:http://www.leboncoin.fr/sports_hobbies/185539198.htm?ca=12_s
Oh no! Orange porteur in my price range! It’s a 70’s bike, however, which isn’t what I originally asked about. I ultimately decided to wait it out, but oh… was that bike tempting!