“Twenty or thirty miles of rolling hills? Piece o’ cake.” How often do you hear that sort of statement attributed to a three-speed? And yet, here you have it: No land speed records were broken, but hitting the road for a leisurely couple of hours is a real joy on this bike. Cruddy weather? No worries. A bit of gravel. No sweat.
I stopped in at my favorite LBS after an unhurried rural ride this morning. Actually, it’s not a terribly “local” bike shop, now that I think about it. But despite the fact that they’re located about twenty-some odd miles away, with – what? At least four closer shops? They still remain my favorite relatively local bike shop. My wife’s bike was “making noises.” No, I didn’t really hear them, but more to the point she did – and they were beginning to irritate the hell out of her. The noise I thought she was describing sounded to me as if the brake pad might be occasionally rubbing against the front or back rim, as if one of them were slightly out of true.
Hell, they looked true to me when I spun the wheels, and I couldn’t replicate the noise on the stand, so I figured I’d let the real bike wrenches find the source and fix it.
I like these guys a lot. I wheeled the bike into the shop, adorned in all of its step-through frame pink splendor, and was greeted with the usual shit: “Hey Mark…good looking bike – it’s about time you started riding something serious.” I may have tinkled the bell in response.
I was prepared to leave the bike and pick it up later, but things were slow and one of the guys promptly clamped her into the stand. I haven’t visited in months and yet I’m greeted by name and treated like I’m important. So yes, this remains my favorite shop.
The guys say they aren’t busy, but they are still tinkering around with customer’s bikes while my wife’s gets looked over. Idle chit chat. How’s it going? Getting in much riding?
I respond that I’m disappointed in myself for not getting in as many miles as I’d planned this year. Grinning, I say, “But I’ve put in quality miles.” It’s a joke (and a pretty lame one at that), but my friend grins back. I think about it – not a whole lot of fast mileage this year: not really any to speak of, as a matter of fact. Not a lot of long distances either.
But the riding has been enjoyable, fit into and around my life schedule as it were.
As I was wrapping up the morning ride today, several mountain bikers were standing around the trail head, listening to the MIZZOU game on the truck radio before mounting the path. One fellow, sporting a nearly waist length beard, was intrigued by the Raleigh International I was loading back into the van. He came over to check it out, the chrome lugs, I think, caught his eye, and I told him a little bit about my restoration hobby. I was asked if I had a business card, which made me chuckle. The idea has crossed my mind in the past, but a business card means I’m taking this stuff seriously.
No, I said. I just want to enjoy myself.