Kaylee: How come you don’t care where you’re going?
Book: ‘Cause how you get there is the worthier part.
Bicycles are fun when you are twelve. The great thing about them is that they are also fun when you are forty, every day in between, and every day that comes after.
I sold my car when I moved to Denver. I faced up to the fact the Thunderchicken was on its last legs, and let it go. I cruised the pawn shops and Craigslist looking for a bike while I got a new job and my feet back under me. There used to be a guy on Clarkson in Capitol Hill who supplemented his income by fixing up old bikes he found in garages and selling them on the cheap. He sold me a 1964 Murray Le Mans, for the princely sum of $50. I put much more work in to it, making it more reliable and safer, and I tooled all over town on it. Through the narrow streets of Cap Hill, down the bike paths. It came with me on RTD when I needed a bit more range after getting off the light rail. And after a while, I upgraded to a new bike, and gave it away with the caveat it could not be sold, only ridden.
I bought myself a Globe Daily 3. The vast majority of the miles I did back then were commutes. It was my daily driver, quite literally. Not many days went by that I wasn’t on the seat. One year a bunch of us commuters put up $20 a head in the fall. The money was to be used to buy the best steak dinner in Denver for the man who didn’t miss a commute during the winter. I didn’t make it. One morning in February was low single digits with a wind chill in the minus twenty range and I threw in the towel. I did take comfort that no one else made it either.
In comparison to a $50 frankenbike that weighed almost 60 pounds all up, it was a magic carpet. Fenders and chain guard kept my work khakis clean. The internal hub was flawless, requiring no real maintainance and allowing me to shift down while stationary. That last bit is priceless after coming to a sudden halt when someone walks off the curb in front of you, saving you the effort of grunting off from a standstill in top gear.
Eventually, I began to wonder how far I could go on this bike. Sure, it’s not a touring bike. But you can tour on any bike. It takes me from town to town up and down the Platte all the time. It’s taken me across Missouri. It’s a great bike.
When I bought it the reviewers questioned how it would hold up in the long run. Pretty flawlessly, I’ve found. It needs new brake shoes, and I’ve worn one set of tires through on it and am shopping for a third. I got rid of the huge buckhorn bars that came with it. I’m using porteur bars from Velo Orange now, which vastly improved the steering and reduced hand numbness to almost none. True, they’re flipped, but I like them like that. I need to tape them. It does look like a french porteur from the 50s or 60s. Classic and clean. I don’t plan to change much in the future, maybe switch out the fenders. I’ve got about 500 miles of touring in front of me this year so I’ll go through it top to bottom soon.
I’m very much a trip person, a process person, an experience person. It’s nice to get places, but how you get there is the most important part. You don’t want to miss the experience. The smells of the countryside. The crispness of an early spring morning. The joy of gearing down and leaning in to a hill, learning the contour of a place like Hemingway wrote about. The only way you really do learn a countryside is to ride it. So much of the nature of a place will escape you and be a mystery otherwise. I don’t want to deprive myself of the nature of a place. I don’t want to wander on and have missed the worthier part. I want to delve in to and explore the mystery. I want to know the places I go and go through. And that is the gift my bicycle gives me.