No worries, this will lack the excessive alliteration of the slugs post. It won’t be all bikes, bunnies, buttercups, brakes, bumps, butts, buttons and bottles. You’ll see…
After work on Thursday, I received a text from The Beloved stating that he would be visiting with The Girls, leaving me with the evening free to do as I pleased. Although I’d sworn that there would be no more Raleigh rides until the brakes on the bike were in working order, I really wanted to ride my Raleigh. I had several reasons for this:
1. My hands and feet were killing me. My disease has ups and downs, and I’m definitely in a flair-up right now. My left middle finger had developed this nervous itching thing all day that was beyond maddening, my big toes felt like they needed to have the joints “popped,” but no relief occurred with said popping, and the rest of my digits were tingly and burning and miserable. I thought the most comfortable bike was therefore a good idea.
2. Lifting The Viva up and down off my car rack in the middle of a flair-up seemed instinctively a bad idea. The Raleigh, with its new aluminum wheels, is surprisingly light. Not race-bike light, but not bad either. I would guess it to weigh no more than 30 pounds right now. The Viva has to be pushing 50. I should weigh them and find out.
3. I just wanted to ride The Raleigh, dang-it.
So keeping in mind the braking issue, I went for the Interurban Trail, as it is nearly flat, has no sharp turns and really, beyond the occasional rogue rabbit, not much company.
Braking shouldn’t be an issue here!
The Raleigh was immediately comfortable, and though the things that hurt when I left still hurt, nothing hurt more, which is all I ask. I was struck, taking it out of the garage, by how small The Raleigh is in comparison to The Viva. It’s strange that I can ride both. This weekend, I’ll have to drag them both out to the yard for comparison photos. For now, you’ll have to settle for this:
… which is just The Raleigh looking gorgeous in front of some pretty wild roses.
The new brake calipers arrived, and I have my new grips to try out already, so this weekend, we’ll be back in Ballard, hanging out with Fritz and the boys at Dutch Bike Co. (The Raleigh never turns down an opportunity to see Fritz). Fritz and I will also be discussing my “new” bike project… which is to build up a Raleigh Sports frame into my ideal run-around bike.
My thought is that I will get a Sports frameset (possibly with fenders and chainguard, possibly not) that I can paint in any color I want. Given my propensity for rainbow madras plaid, I suspect some of you will find this terrifying. You should.
Note the shoes. I would SO go there, if there were a way to create a rainbow madras plaid bike (that I could afford to do, I should add). Anyway, then I’m going to do a 7- or 8-speed hub, dyno hub up front, great lighting, super-duper racks front and rear…
Excuse me, I just drifted off for a moment there.
The Raleigh was a blast to ride: I felt like a kid, and the reason for this is a bit hard to explain. On The Viva, I ride along slowly, pedaling without much effort in a stately, dignified way. The Raleigh, despite its British roots, is scrappy. When I hit hills, I just power up them. I ride aggressively, if anyone going fourteen miles an hour can be termed “aggressive.” I feel fast, even if I’m really not. The Raleigh makes me smile at people when I ride it. I give shout-outs to the long-haired punks at the skatepark. I wave at small children. I’m like a Raleigh-Riding Johnny Appleseed of Joy, spreading little Germs of Happiness throughout the pioneer landscape, allowing homesteaders and fur trappers to brew their own Hard Cider of Delight!
And lets face it, few things are as delightful as a bike ride on a warm afternoon in one’s shirtsleeves, passing fields of buttercups as the red wing blackbirds trill sweetly from cattails and baby bunnies nibble the freshly-mown grass at the side of the trail. Did I mention the baby bunnies?
I mean… come ON. There is nothing on Earth cuter than a baby bunny. There is actually a scientific law about this: N/Cute = Bunny (-age). Didn’t you learn this stuff in school? What are they teaching you whipper-snappers today? Solve for N and put the ears on the Y-axis.
Riding hard should also help with my new goal: to get in shape for my 7-day bike tour of Western Ireland this summer with my students. Barring unforseen horridness, the trip is booked to go. I can’t wait. The problem is that my Co-Chaperone is in very, very good shape, and has the potential to do some serious butt-kicking on this ride. Put it this way: the kids tease him constantly about his massive bicep veins. He claims he’s going to relax and ride easy on this trip, but I don’t entirely believe him. No one gets veins like that from “riding easy.”
So to prevent serious embarrassment, when he laps me sixty-three times in one day like one of those Warner Bros cartoon terriers that hops up and over the bulldog a thousand times as they are walking, I want to be in decent shape. Last year, when we took 15 kids on a 10-day walking tour of Britain, I will admit to kicking his butt a bit. I can out-walk almost anyone, and if presented with the opportunity to see the Brontë parsonage, I can put in ten hours on my feet in Yorkshire and still make it on the seven-mile hike from Wordsworth’s cottage in the Lake District the next morning. Ha ha! But this is a bit different. Here, his impressive thighs are likely to be a genuine advantage, though I guess perhaps I could wish saddle-rub on him or something. Unfortunately, I like him too much to wish badness upon him, so I will just have to burn a few more calories before we go.
It would help, as I have mentioned previously, if I stopped drinking:
But if this is wrong, so help me, I don’t want to be right! Nectar of the Gods. Liquid peachy goodness.
The ride itself was relatively uneventful. I went quickly, compared to… well, myself on my other bike. Never switching out of second gear, I rode like a maniac, avoiding suicidal bunnies and kamikaze robins. The Raleigh and I spotted trains, which is a very British thing to do, though the “remote control” variety eluded us:
Reading the sign, I felt like I was on the set of Thomas the Tank Engine.
On the way back to my car, I spotted a poster for Critical Mass. I haven’t ever been to a Critical Mass ride, as any sort of ride with the word “mass” in it doesn’t appeal to me. I really don’t associate them with bikes with this sort of handlebars.
When I think of Critical Mass, I think of the protests in downtown Seattle a few years ago, when people were beat up and cyclists were arrested. That just doesn’t seem like something one does much on a beach cruiser, but I could be totally wrong.
Anyway, on to less controversial topics: buttercups.
Now those are buttercups! I never get tired of these photos, and I know my 12 regular readers are clamoring for more of the sweet petals of sunshine. Bring on the yellow weeds!
Since this rideblog entry has moved into near-total randomness, here’s a last photo and explanation. On The Raleigh’s sweet wee Minnehana saddlebag is a small button, showing a vintage bike with a Carradice-type saddlebag. This was given to me by Shawn Granton after I bought some posters from him before his big cross-country ride. He threw in a handful of buttons, most of which were immediately stolen by my children, but this one escaped to make its way onto The Raleigh’s bag. It just seemed right.