My friend Robert happened to be in town for a job interview last week, and since his parents live nearby, he stuck around for a visit. I got to see him on Friday night, which was really cool. The initial plan was to rent a bike and ride together in Waterfront park, but the downtown bike rental is now operating on non-summer hours, so they were closed. Instead, we rode a bus up to Saint Andrew's Episcopal, my church, where his Mom, Martha, works as the children's minister.
Historically, Robert has been a mountain bike guy, even though he doesn't do much off-road riding. I've spent some time trying to convince him that riding a road bike is a Good Idea — and it seems I've finally won a convert to the cause.
Robert has laid hands on a classic blue Raleigh — a nice, old steel touring frame, heavier than Quicksilver (it's not hard to be heavier than QS!) but a smooth and lovely ride nonetheless, and quite elegant, to boot: if Quicksilver is beautiful in the stripped-down, sinewy way that a young racehorse is beautiful, the blue Raleigh might better compare to an elegant gentleman's hack. It's a bike I would be proud to be seen on (after cranking the seatpost down an inch or two — Robert is tall).
So on Friday evening, we rode out from Saint Andrew's together in a soft, misting rain — it was really lovely, and not enough to interefere with my glasses — and acclimating him to the handling of the road bike.
Riding with Robert was nice. I thought about subjecting him to Dog Hill, but decided I value his friendship too much for that — if the hill didn't kill him, he probably would've killed me (once he caught his breath). DD managed it the first time we went out for a ride (he didn't even have to stop halfway up!), but DD is built like a climber — about my height (5'9", or about 175 cm), light and lean, with slim, stringy muscles.
He may be the only person I know who can enjoy doing laps around a parking lot just as much as I do (DD might, too — we ride together pretty often, but I've never done parking-lot-laps with him). We spent maybe half an hour making big loops around the big, well-paved, half-lit parking lot of an office condo that was closed for the night: sailing down the long straightaways; taking sweeping turns through the wide end of the lot; banking hard through the narrow end, where there's a concrete island with a tree in the middle.
A couple of times I popped QS onto the big ring and sprinted up the side that led to the tree and tried to countersteer through the corner at speed without braking. I mostly succeeded.
I have no idea how many laps we did, nor how much mileage I might have logged just going in circles. It doesn't matter. I enjoy counting my miles, but I also enjoy riding for the sheer fun of it.
We spun back to Saint Andrew's through dark and quiet streets. Occasionally the joyful noise of some lively party or another would trickle from one of the houses set back from the road.
There are few things as pleasant as a nice ride with a friend on a cool and misty evening in September. I followed it with a fast ride to DD's house — on Saturday we went to Rough River Lake's Trash Bash 2010, where we gathered up a bunch of detritus, including an entire canoe, with some Boy Scouts, then rode our bikes around. I wish I'd had the new 'cross tires on Swift — they're nice. I installed them after I got home on Saturday.
I don't know if they make nicer weekend than this one was. I'm looking forward to next weekend — it's King's Cross time (and, if I can still walk when my race is over, IKEA time, LOL). I didn't get most of the changes I was hoping to make to Swift done, but I did pop on new tires and a new saddle (SO MUCH BETTER than the old one). I'm not too worried about looking like an idiot on my flat-bar hybrid — plenty of people run mountain bikes, after all.
If it turns out I was born to do 'cross, I will add 'cross bike' to my list of things I'm currently storing in the future (the future is great like that: if there's something you want, but don't have room for or can't afford yet, you can just store it in the future, and pick it up there when you're ready).
Thus far, this has been a year of taking risks and expanding horizons. I'm about to take another big one — but for fear of jinxing it, I'm not going to write about it just yet.
Maybe tomorrow night.
That's it for now.