I’m not sure how it exactly got started, but a friend of mine just came to a revelation about the bike revolution.
I guess one inspiration was his car breaking down. Simultaneously his job reality changed, making work even further away from home. He scrounged up a town bike and used it to get to the bus. Pretty soon he decided he could ride downtown to the bus depot. Next thing you know, he skips a bus here and there and starts realizing maybe his brakes could be working better.
I send him to Pro Bikes, the neighborhood shop, on his way home, because brakes are an important part of the ride. They check out his brakes and see how they can make him actually like to ride his bike if only they can true up those wheels and throw on a new derailleur. Thankfully he lets them do it. He rides his bike home from the shop and laughs at how he can’t even believe how much easier it is to ride. I’m so grateful to Marty Gallagher for helping him fall in love.
Suddenly he decides that he needs to ride all the way back to West Asheville from Fletcher. He’s already got the hang of it, because he innately knows to celebrate with a beer. He also notes that his crotch area falls asleep and his ass really hurts. This is a good time for the talk about a smushy, fluffy seat that LOOKS comfortable, versus a narrow, leather seat that perfectly fits only the sitz bones. I also suggest a chamois, but he cuts me off before I can even complete the sentence, “NO! I’m NOT wearing those damn spandex things.”
I tell him to at least wear them under his britches so that the heavy seams aren’t cutting directly into him and pulling at odd places. He considers it, but has yet to take this advice. I know it is a matter of manliness at this point, so I don’t push.
He is now 35 pounds lighter than when he started and realizes that he commutes 80 miles on an average week. He says that he’s afraid to get his car back because then it would be so much easier to drive on those foggy, rainy, cold mornings that make bike rides an emotional challenge.
He goes back into Pro Bikes and realizes that being in there makes him want to buy a new bike. I want this for him. Now that he’s ridden in the rain, in his jeans, in 40 degrees with a wind, I want him to feel the exhilaration, comfort and confidence of a new bike. I want him to see just how strong he’s become from all of that work. I want him to feel that after riding home he’s still going to have energy left over.
The best way to become a badass at something is to do it for awhile without good gear. Getting on a great bike will boost his confidence to a point where he will quickly move to the next level, based solely on the expectations of the ride and pain. If he pushes himself on a new bike to the level of pain to which he’s come accustomed, he will absolutely fly and feel great when he’s done.
The time change meant he needed lights for his morning ride. His bike is slowly morphing into a well-oiled machine, despite the lopping crank arm that pissed him off all the way home. ProBikes fixed it for him, winning his trust.
Mad drivers have considered him a cyclist before he has realized that he is, initiating him into the group with honks, swerves and bad last-minute decisions. His battle stories involve fantasies of vindication, so now I want him on a better bike for even more reasons.
But even before that happens, a new biking star has been born.