Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Glovey Mud

I went out riding the other day and things were cold. It was 28 degrees when I left and 26 degrees when I got back. The wind was out of the North West at 10 to 12 mph. It was clear and sunny and the roads were pretty clean with just a little sand and salt residue from the previous week's tiny snow storms. I was riding the old bike so I'm not sure how fast I went or how far I rode or what my average cadence was. I just remember it was cold and I was riding into a headwind half the time. It was a great first ride of December on the old bike.

As I was riding, I was thinking about my old bike. I had just changed the bar tape a couple days before and I had been eager to get it out on the road. I think I might be addicted to bar tape. I love the precision and craftsmanship involved in changing bar tape. I can't seem to keep the same bar tape on any bike for very long and I think the bar tape I replaced had probably been on there the longest. My glossy black had almost made it a year. It seems like a bike's personality can really be transformed by something as simple as changing the bar tape.

So I had taken off the glossy black and replaced it with some matte red thinking that would look good and match the hearts and diamonds on my Quattro Assi logos. As I admired my work, it dawned on me that I hadn't really changed anything about the "personality" of my old bike. I hadn't really transformed anything. My old bike was the same old bike with the same old elegance and the same old grace and the same old something that I have never really been able to put my finger on. Hardness maybe. I'm not sure.

I realized that it was me that had been changed. Me that had been transformed. Just like when you put a pair of white gloves on and then go play in the mud - the mud doesn't become glovey - the gloves become muddy. There is no such thing as glovey mud. And so it is with the old bike. When I'm on it, or around it, or doing something to it, the old bike is transforming me. The old bike is molding me. I am the white gloves. The old bike is the mud. I am becoming muddy gloves.

Not all at once though. It is and has been a process. It is and has been a process with the old bike that I have gotten and am getting more out of than I am putting into it. The old bike doesn't ask a thing. The old bike makes no demands and it doesn't pass judgement. The old bike just is. The old bike has a purity to it and a majestic sense of purpose. A precision and a refinement. A raw elemental quality that I can't quite define but I know is defining me. It is a quality that has my respect.

And that respect is what makes me give it my best when I'm out on the old bike. No matter how good or bad I feel. No matter whether I have the legs or not. No matter how hard or easy the ride or the hill or the headwind and no matter how hot or cold or rainy or whatever. The old bike is steady. Solid. Stiff. Silent. Workman-like. Noble with a calm assurance. The old bike is tempered by having done more already than I will ever be able to give it or do with it and that's OK. The old bike is molding me. Making me. Forming me. I am not glovey mud. I am muddy gloves. And frankly I'm better for it.

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