Posts tagged ‘bicycle’
We’ve been flirting with rain. The wintertime landscape is clouds and pale light, the grey skeletons of trees, the dull gold of winter fields. Today the temperatures dropped, and it finally feels a little bit like winter.
It must be the light on days like these, but I love riding home in the late afternoon in the fading grey-ness. It is windless and silent. And I feel like I have fallen into some vintage photo, the colors are so subdued – grey, buff, steel blue and hints of ivory and amber. Almost monochrome. (With the exception of my very red, red bicycle, of course.)
My “good” cameras have been left at home on these rain-risk days … for now, just some of the iPhone snaps.
Day after day, year after year, I ride past an old grandmother. She is greying and stooped, her old bones are weathered and tired – yet she is sill beautiful, even sacred. At least to me.
For many years she stood … tall and proud, solid and steadfast, quiet and imposing, yet welcoming and kind. She was a dependable storehouse, a nursery, a warm and fragrant embrace for man and animal. She is a landmark, a sentinel, a piece of the landscape as much as any creek or any mountain. She has seen many years, and she is filled with her own stories.
I have known her for only a small portion of her life. I have tried to listen for her stories. I have touched her bones. I have felt her embrace.
When the tornadoes of April 2011 set upon her quiet valley, it was more than she could bear in her old age; she submitted and bowed down. I confess that I cried when I first saw her afterwards.
Yet still, even in collapse, she sits; her skeletal remains are always a comfort to me when I ride near. I stop. I see her, decaying in her bones and stories, settling gently down in the quilt of her soft field. Slowly, slowly, she sinks into the land, taking her stories with her.
She is an old grandmother. She is most beloved.
The essence of the reddest of red-heads … I am calling her Lucy.
Six months of collaborative creating which began with my bike fitter, Eddie at Cycology, to the actual fabrication of her bones by Natalie Ramsland at SweetPea … and finally home for the final build and “dressing up” by my most awesome local bike guy, Charles at Trailhead – who knew exactly what she needed to become the thing of my dreams. There was considerable tweaking along the way, a few hiccups, several re-do’s (some easy, and some not-so), but in the end I have to think she is my perfect bike. She fits me like a hand tailored Little Black Dress, for sure. And yeah – she loves me back as much as I love her.
I love that she is a perfect mixture of function and aesthetics. She rides like a dream, she is lovely to look at (and photograph, of course), she is a little sassy and a lot of serious; she will go the distance, yet has enough practicality for commuting and camera-toting adventures.
Each piece of her was thoughtfully and deliberately chosen, and I am very proud that most things were chosen from smaller and US-based independent designers – Chris King, Paul Components, White Industries, Bike Thomson, Velo Orange, Sugar Wheel Works, and of course SweetPea.
Drivetrain selection ended up being one of the biggest headaches, and the biggest challenge in trying to put together a bike from across the country without seeing it. Aesthetically, the Shimano group I originally had chosen ended up looking wrong. In the end, at home, we stripped the Ultegra group and dressed her up with some divine Campagnolo – which is exactly what she needed (and will always take me back to the bike I rode in Italy).
We topped things off a Brooks Ladies saddle, a set of Pitlock locking skewers, a Light and Motion pairing of lights, and a very sweet Tubus Titanium rack which will will hold my wonderful custom designed and hand-sewn North St. convertible pannier (thank-you Curtis), the perfect custom home for my camera gear and other “stuffs” I schlepp around. More about that bag to come; it’s amazing. Still doing some decision-making on fenders (or not) … we’ll see.
So these are some of the first of what I am sure will be many, many glamour shots of Lucy – some of her beautiful details, and her charming RED personality. She certainly won’t get lost in the landscape.
And speaking of Lucys … for any of you old enough to remember, did you know that there was an old episode of the original I Love Lucy (i.e., Lucille Ball), where she convinces Ricky, Ethel and Fred to ride bikes from Italy to France? I kid you not. Lol. The best part is the comedy of mishaps at the border crossing – and, of course, seeing Fred and Ethel on a tandem. If you’re up for a dose of 50’s sitcom humor, it’s worth a watch (heheh) – viewable for streaming online here, or this clip on YouTube.
I leave on my bicycle and often think: same roads, same fences, same old barns, same bike, same me … nothing changes.
And then I open my eyes and realize that nature, the natural world, is changing all around me. Beautifully. From minute, to day, to week, to season.
The same road is different each day in small and subtle ways. It is all the change I need.
Riding across the Riverside Drive glass bridge in Chattanooga always gives me an imaginary sense of victory(?) over cars. I love standing on that bridge with my bike and looking down at the cars driving underneath; I am looming over them for a change (even it it’s only in my mind…).
Today’s destination was number 12 on the Utilitaire control card: to get my hair cut. My once-a-month-or-so trip to Chattanooga to visit my stylist, Chris, at Hair-A-Go-Go gives me a chance to ride into the city on the Riverwalk.
I will confess, I have to drive (shame on me!) to the northern terminus of the Riverwalk from home; but living about 40+ mi outisde of the city, an 80-mile round trip would be a big stretch for a reasonable commuter distance for me. Sorry. This way, anyway, I cut a little off of my driving distance, and get to ride the “scenic route” into downtown, and have some time to enjoy the destination. I think the approximate distance from the north end of the path to the Bluff View Art District downtown is about 8 miles one way, so the round trip makes for a relaxing and comfortable ride which I almost always make on Elisabetta.
Got my haircut, stopped into the downtown art supply store for a new pen, and then lingered around Coolidge Park for a little while enjoying the incredible sunshine and the balmy temperatures. I think we reached the mid-70’s. Lots and lots of people were out, walking, biking, sitting on benches on the Walnut Street Bridge, enjoying picnics in the park.
Before heading back, I stopped to treat myself at Rembrand’s Coffee House in the Art District. I was in the mood for one of their blackberry Italian Cream Sodas … it was heavenly, especially on the warm day. I am not exactly sure what makes it “Italian” (because I don’t remember ever seeing anything like this in Italy), but it is basically blackberry syrup, soda water, and some cream – yes, real cream – over ice. Not something to indulge in on a regular basis, but for an occasional treat, I shall have no guilt over it(!).
My hair is back to it’s short and trimmed state, my journal enjoyed the sun and the park (if not my attempts with the new pen), and I am still imagining the sweetness of blackberries and cream. A few scenes from the day … and a big thank you to the very kind new friends who have visited these pages from today’s Freshly Pressed; it was an unexpected surprise, and I am quite bowled over by the kind words and responses. Many thanks.
playing with new pens
Chattanooga has a thriving hipster population … Riverwalk
Scenic City bridges … Coolidge Park