This bike (well, a bike very similar to this one, but without fenders) was almost a part of my body for years. First, I had a Dawes 10-speed that took me through junior high and high school in California, then a couple of cast-off bikes when I moved out to Colorado for my senior year, then this beautiful 12-speed Univega touring bike. I could do anything with this bike, and I spent more time on it than studying. Well, maybe that’s not quite true, but I did think at one point that I was going to quit school (University of Colorado at Boulder) to tour across country, but plans with my companions broke down. That didn’t keep me from cycling almost every morning from my dorm on east Baseline Road on up to the top of Flagstaff Mountain.
Oh the memories! I used to prep for long rides while listening to Vivaldi, and today I downloaded Vivaldi’s Four Seasons from iTunes. As I listen, I feel my feet turning the pedals and can hear the sound, the smooth sound of the chain flying across the well-oiled cogset, and the almost inaudible whir and whoosh of my tires against the pavement. I wonder if the music is activating old muscle memory.
Remember the 1979 Oscar-winning (screenplay) movie Breaking Away? I’m that blond kid, Dave Stoller, the one who was always on his bike, always singing on his bike, the one who raced a semi all the way to Indianapolis. Well, OK, not me exactly (I have dark brown hair and can’t sing in Italian, oh, and plus, I am a woman), but very much like me. Except I raced the school bus (and won most days).
On singing while biking: Singing is a good way to regulate your breathing while going uphill. It’s also just fun. I sang in Spanish. For some reason, when I moved out to Colorado to finish high school at age 17, I preferred to sing and speak to my cat in Spanish. In college, my sophomore year, I lived on the “Spanish Language Floor” of my dorm, and we were required to only speak to each other in Spanish. Of course that didn’t happen, but it was still a really cool idea.
But that’s beside the point. The point is, I loved cycling. I’d take my bike anywhere. I was the girl in your Spanish class with the red and black mesh gloves, the flute-sized tire pump, the red and black helmet, and, forgive me, the red and black Lycra shorts and red t-shirt. I was the girl circling around the parking lot like a bike-ballet dancer and running corners in my dorm hall. I was the girl carrying my bike up several flights of stairs, balancing it on my shoulder like a brief case, who would get up at odd hours of the morning to “train” as if I were Beth Heiden or somebody.
In 1992, I was in a fairly bad car accident — fish-tailing in the snow on I-25 and doing a 180 into the center, raised median. No other cars were involved. My little 1976 VW Rabbit was totaled because, though I could drive it off the highway, the entire structure was askew, crooked from the blow against the median. And I, trying to control this whole thing by holding on to the steering wheel as hard or harder than humanly possible, ended up with a sprained neck, sprained shoulders, arms, wrists, and hands. It was so bad, I thought I would never be able to enjoy bike riding again. So, I sold my bike at a yard sale. Oh, woe is me, what a sad day that was! If only I had kept it! The recovery took a while, and then I was out in the work world, having to drive a car to get places, so I just gave up on cycling. (I once commuted by bike from Boulder to my job in Arvada [~56 miles round-trip] one summer during college.)
But I did recover, and I would love to have that sweet red and black bike back, along with the skill and speed and joy of riding I lost long ago.