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Monday, August 01, 2005

The Tour is Dead, Long Live the Tour

When I was younger, I had a grizzled old war veteran lecture me about loss. “You don’t know nothing about losing nothing until you been to war, boy. You’ll know about loss when you stick your hand into a pile of goo that used to be your best friend’s face.” I think I finally know what he is talking about. The Tour de France is over. After three weeks of me having something to live and train for, it has finally ended. I know exactly what the tortured combat vet was saying about putting your hand into a pile of goo that used to be your best friend’s face, because I went to the gym and turned the TV to the channel that covered the Tour in the vain hope they would show some repeats of the race, or something Tour-related. Instead, I found that they were airing a hunting show.

In one sense, it is kind of refreshing to have my normal, non-Tour de France, life back. I no longer have to center my entire day around getting to the gym at a specific time to watch the race. The weather here has been positively spectacular. I can bike ride outside as nature intended, instead of pedaling an exercise bike to nowhere inside. I love riding my racing bike around Seattle. I sniff out every hill in town like a pig foraging for truffles. It doesn’t take a lot of talent to find hills in this town. There are some hills so steep that I won’t ride up them on my racing bike for fear that the torque will break a wheel, or a chain, or a frame. I leave these hills for days when I am out on my ghetto commuter bike. I really did break a chain riding up one of these cruelly steep hills.

So life was good for a while. I was riding my butt off and getting into the best shape of my life when tragedy struck again. The gears on my racing bike crapped out. It was going to cost quite a bit to fix this old Bianchi, a bike that has served me very well. I weighed the cost of repairs against investing in a brand new Bianchi San Lorenzo that costs $3,200 or so. It seemed a rather ignominious end to my old bike, but I have been thinking about replacing it. I told the guys at the repair shop in my neighborhood to pull the feeding tube. A couple bike geek dudes overheard me say that I wasn’t going to fix the old Bianchi and they immediately started drooling over the corpse.

“How much do you want for that frame, dude?” The old bike has a steel lugged frame hand-made in Italy. The new models are one-piece forged carbon fiber. The bike geeks’ envy made me reconsider my plan to scrap the classic for a new model. I decided to fix up the old bicycle and trick it out a little. It should be back on the road by next Wednesday.

I didn’t want to miss a work-out so I went out on my commuter bike. I took the opportunity to ride up 4th Avenue North, the steepest, ugliest hill in Seattle. I wouldn’t dream of even driving my car up or down this street. I don’t think that I have ever seen a car drive up the hill, and only street residents drive down it. I may never be able to articulate why this sort of behavior is fun for me. As I was grinding up 4th Avenue North, I thought that either the ride would kill me or I would live forever.

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