Going Single

Posted April 21, 2007

In order to avoid a worried call from my wife, I should quickly clarify the title: this is about bicycles. And I don't mean the adage about fish and bicycles. This really has nothing to do with relationships ... between people, anyway.

This is about a geek, and his bike.

I used to be a bike nut. As a kid I lived near Forest Park, and went up there to hit the trails with my brother and friends frequently. After growing up a bit, I commuted to work and went out on the weekends to do 100k rides in the beautiful Oregon countryside. It was great. I was fit, happy, and rockin' it on two wheels.

Then one day I bit off more than I could chew, and wound up getting tossed into a ravine after taking a corner a little too fast. A dense patch of blackberries, clinging to the side of the cliff, stopped me half way down to an unfortunate demise. That put me (and my bike) out of commission for a while, and for no good reason in particular, I never got back into it. I've made several excuses to myself over the last few years, but when it comes down to it, I just haven't mustered the chutzpah.

And things just haven't been the same. Over the last few years I've noticed an ominous and steady swelling about the waist, and the needle on the bathroom scale has edged up and over the brink of 200 pounds. It's a little startling. I used to be the weird skinny kid, and now I'm packing it on like Grimace on a milk shake binge.

I have the feeling that's going to change. Over the last few days, I've been subject to a strange chain of events, all of which are geared towards bicycles. It's like the universe is dropping hints on me:

  • My birthday happened a few days ago, which always inspires some pledges for bettering myself and things in my general vicinity. Biking to work instead of driving could do me a lot of good, and hey, save the planet ...
  • ... then I realized how completely ridiculous it is that I drive to work. Gas is stupid expensive, and the office is only 2.5 miles away (and that's the scenic route). If only I had a bike ...
  • ... then I remembered the second-hand Bianchi Axis frameset lurking in my basement. It could be a hell of a bike. If only I had someone to help me build it up and provide some inspiration ...
  • ... then one of my best friends (who built his own bike) called me up and offered beer, garage space, and help rebuilding the bike so that he'd have another buddy to ride with on the weekends. But I don't have much money laying around to invest in bike parts ...
  • ... so my wife gave me a gift certificate to PricePoint.com, which happens to be running a big clearance sale right now.
See what I mean? These are about as clear as signals get.

So, in the interest of saving the planet, my waistline, my social life, my dignity, and a few extra bucks, I'm taking the plunge and turning that Bianchi Axis frameset into a kick ass single speed bike. Which is what brings us back to the misleading title of this entry ... going single. Why the hell would a rational human being with a high appreciation for technology and a marginal weight problem opt for a single speed bike?

The honest answer is that I have no idea. There's just something viscerally interesting and compelling about building and riding a single speed bike. There's something about the simplicity of it that I'm attracted to, and there aren't any particularly compelling topographical reasons for all those gears in my neck of the woods. Plus, it's a little different than the norm. I'm still a little weird, I guess.

Anyhow. Parts have been ordered. The wheels are (figuratively) in motion. For the first time in a long time, I'm actually getting excited about getting back on a bike.

I wonder if I could prepare for the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic in the three months between now and then?

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