2.26.2009

pleasant way to start the morning...

my commute is short
the ride is not long enough to constitute a work out
yes... there is the notion that life is cumulative
but it is more a matter that the bicycle is the vehicle that makes the most sense
my commute is easily a non cyclist's bike ride
no... it is not so much about being green
nor is it the effort to be healthier or fitter
it is just that the bicycle makes sense

not sure why more people do not see this reality
the bicycle is already part of my life so perhaps it is easier for me to read the writing on the wall

there are advantages to travel by bike
the world is a different place to those of us on bike than to those locked within their cages
we interact with the world around us
and we often get a chance to interact with others
we also find things... dropped things... cool things
but more often then finding something cool you have the opportunity to make contact with someone

in a car a person may see an old friend or a familiar face then email them about it later
on the bike personal contact can be made
in the car a person may see another and yearn to make contact
while on the bike there are less barriers
there is a greater opportunity to make contact
that person running, that friend headed to the Metro, or those friends having drinks on the sidewalk cafe
in the car so much of that goes on unnoticed

being on the bike connects me with the city
the bike connects me to the streets, the buildings, and the people
the camera can start the conversation
sometimes I just start the conversation anyway
I am curious about people
especially people on bikes

earlier this week I encountered a young woman on a fixed gear
I am not sure about other people who ride bikes but I look at anyone and everyone on bike
even before the whole BLOG/PHOTO thing I looked at each passing bike and its rider
I look at what they are riding and how they are riding it
over time I will see the same people around town
over the years I watch strangers grown and change or at least change bikes
I often fill in the blank of who they are and what they are doing
I am usually wrong
never even so close as to guestimate the sound of their voice

so the other morning when I was rolling down Mount Pleasant Street on my way into work I watched this young woman on her fixed gear

I tried to get an idea of how she would approach the variables in front of her
I tried to make sure that my trajectory did not intersect with hers
my path was towards the center line while she was riding more towards the right side of the road
as we approached a light turning yellow it was clear I would not make it before it turned red so I began to coast
the Metro bus ahead of us pivoted to the right taking up the center lane and the parking lane as it picked up passengers
this young woman on the fixie accelerated towards the center lane around the bus rather than slowing down or getting pinned in between the side of the bus, the curb, and the people trying to get on the bus
the rider on the fixie stopped at the red light and the impassable morning rush hour traffic coming up the Irving Street Speedway

I stopped along side of her and offered a morning greeting
she must be from out of town because she did not spray me with mace nor did she make a face
she must be from out of town because she responded back with a good morning and a smile
the light turned green and we progressed further
our morning hello moved naturally into conversation
a short exchange about this and that
before I went right down Columbia she made mention that my Surly Karate Monkey was "a nice build"
her word usage sounded so "bike"
although I am not sure if I had heard the collection of words that form the concept of "a nice build"
but I did know that this statement revealed that she knew a thing or two about bikes
well... the comfort on the fixie and the observation of the bike and the use of the words "a nice build"
the Surly is not a bike out of a box and the Karate Monkey is a frame that can accept a variety of incarnations
the Karate Monkey can go gears, single, or fixed
the Karate Monkey is as much a utilitarian city bike as it is a bike for the woods
the frame is wide enough for the 29er Knobbies
which of course would allow any 700c variety

the camera was in my pocket but I did not snap a shot
there was time to pull the camera from my pocket
instead I just let it roll
our direction or our pace broke the conversation
which was fine
my focus was really just getting across town so I can get to work
anything else is just a sidebar

then days later... this morning in fact...
I was traveling the same route and roughly the same time of day when I rolled up behind that same familiar form
only it was not so familiar... this time she was not on her fixie...
she was on a Surly Cross Check with drop bars and bar con shifters
ah... she is familiar with the Surly
the bike that is not so much a built bike from a shop
but a bike that is built through the purchase of a frame and various parts
parts by the selection of the buyer

Surly is a poor man's custom bike
the bikes have a solid reputation for being bullet proof
I have only owned the Monkey but I have heard flattering reviews of any and all other frames by Surly that people have bought with the QBP Catalog

enough on the Surly... back to my random rant from the morning ride
funny... typing this is taking longer than the whole encounter
with all the times I have been pulled away to cook for my kids or play another hand in Scrabble on Facebook
where was I?
oh...

so almost immediately I recognize her and I guess she recognizes me
I am not quite stealth and well... I have an okay memory for certain things
there was a greeting where I made mention of her bike that day
I felt that she had misrepresented herself
just when you think you know someone...
I had drawn this mental picture of this person on a fixed gear and now I see her pushing gears

then she alerted me that I was also on a different bike
I had not noticed that I was on a different bike on this day as well

she was not on her fixie and I was not on my single speed
we were both pushing gears

our path continued the same direction for pretty much for the same short duration
as again it is morning
there is not always time to slow for more than a hello
focus needs to be on the task at hand... getting to work... and getting to work on time

again I had the camera... again I did not take a photograph
my guess is I will see her again
I will get more of the story and maybe even a picture

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