Evening. Monday. The time of night that has always been my favorite. Riding out in the dusk on the Dawes for an easy errand that got lost in the day. Started by vectoring exactly the opposite direction, after spending 15 minutes or so dinking around with a flat tire change. Took the longer route because I wanted to remind myself about this bike and the way it handles, as well as watch the blue skies fade to deep grey and then black.
As I’ve said before, every bicycle you own increases exponentially the possibility that none of them will work correctly. Of late, I’ve been trying to recover from that a bit - making sure that I roll out the less-used bike earlier than I need it, so I can knock some of the crud off of it and have it reasonably ready to ride. This last week, I’d untangled the Dawes from the wall and found the tires soft. Pumped them up and loaded in the lights, reflective bits and stuff I needed to run out. By the time I’d gone inside and put on a sweater, the back wheel had sunk back to the rim, and the tire was thin and useless. Something more than underinflation to be sure and I’d burned through the spare time already - had to run, so switched over to the Zeus, which had been reinvigorated a bit the week before. Which was too bad, because I really couldn’t recall the last time the Dawes got out on the road.
The tube change had been a bit unsettling, as it was clear that the venerable Conti 28’s were getting to their last gasps. A couple of nasty cuts into the rubber from a few winter’s worth of night time commutes. Star-shaped gashes. Goodly chunks missing here and there. A preponderance of threads sneaking out of the rim after remounting the tire. Still decent meat on them, though definitely thinner where it matters. I had actually thought these were 25’s, so it was encouraging to realize that the Dawes could probably take some larger tires. It has gotten to the point where anything smaller than the round profile of the Jack Brown 33 1/3 seems skinny. Will probably try the Rolly-Pollys, as I know the profile is a bit rounder than the Continental Ultras.
I actually could not recall the last time I’d ridden the Dawes. I suppose it’s possible that it has been a year, but that just doesn’t quite sound correct. (Thank goodness for the internet brain - according to my BikeJournal.com entries, it would appear to have been June of last year…probably back when I looked down at the tires and thought “dang! I need some new tires!”) It has a stately grace which I appreciate. That has been enhanced by the fixed drivetrain, and we scooted through the near-vacant neighborhood streets. Dipping into a few turns, I did notice that there was a hesitation - almost an unease with which it cornered. Definitely a difference from the Hilsen and Quickbeam, which have been my main rides of late.
It makes it a bit easier to understand bike reviews and opinions when you jump back on a bike for the first time in a while. Everything is a bit different from everything else, and it can be almost shocking when you make a change. But, the ride skills, the body, the reactions all adapt fairly quickly. I guess I’ve ridden enough in my life to have a decent skill set which allows me to be aware of the corrections I’m making. And the bicycle cornered just fine. It just entered and exited the turns with a slightly different personality than what I’d been used to. Maybe it’s a little skittish generally speaking. But nothing you can’t handle it. You can
ride such a variety of angles and tubes. And they have pluses and
minuses. All have quirks and personality. The stem a trifle longer. The bars a little thinner in the hand with a different bend. Certainly different tires and fork and front end dimensions.
But, we’re adaptable folks, us humans.
With reasonably cold thumbs. I mean, since I hadn’t bothered to put any gloves on.
A bit later I found myself parked in a Peet’s, catching up on some email while sipping a gloriously strong “free” cup of coffee and half-listening to a curious conversation at the next table. It was a little unsettlingly paranoid and depressive. But the peace of the evening hovered above that and seemed to take it away like waves clear a sand castle. What’s weird is that I thought of a similar scenario as I was prepping to out. And then it manifested. Whether its always out there happening but it’s only when you tune your receiver that you notice it.
I had noticed that a clumsiness remains in getting out the door. Back to the other closet to find the heavy sweater. Rooting around a bit to find the gloves (which I never put on). Better than the last few times, but aggravating in the need for searching things out rather than just moving out the door and onto the bike. So, still seeking the flow.
The flow. The ability to cruise through the room picking up all the those things you need quickly. Get on the road. That’s a flow born from habit. No. “Habit” is too much of a mindless process.
Better yet from “practice”. That’s transferable. Bike riding. Yoga. Playing with your dogs. Voice acting, when the scripts flow and the work comes out with passion and truth.
So how do you maintain that flow?
Small definite acts. A little hard work every day. Moments to drift and think.
And how does that all reflect to riding? Probably doesn’t in a direct way, but every part of the practice must fold in and reinforce itself. The intention of yoga. The repetitive practice of the mileage. The crux moments of the creative process.
Riding under a clear crisp January night just to get a couple pounds of coffee.