Something Different

I once owned a fast car. It was purchased after the Ford Aerostar XL I had been driving caught a hard shudder in its front end. The car, a souped up Honda Accord, had an engine that growled and elicited excitement. I wasn’t the one who tuned it. It came that way. I was never – nor have I ever been – a car guy. I could have gotten a Jetta, but this Honda – with its prospect of going fast – was the one I left the lot with.

I haven’t owned, or really thought about that car for ten years, but it drifted its way into my head as I pulled onto a strip of lawn after topping out on NE Perkins for the second time. The podcast I’d been listening to had stopped and it was time to que up another one.

The Six Series Madone I’m on was raced for a season by a lady on the team our shop sponsors. Each year the shop buys five of these bikes and gives them to the team to race. A the end of the season the bikes are returned and start their lives as a sale bike, a couple hundred above wholesale.

Knowing how I feel about carbon bikes a manager suggested that I take it out on an extended test ride. So last night I took the pedals off my bike and put them on this rig, matched my fit as best I could and rolled home on a bike that wasn’t mine.

The next morning the bike and I descend straight down 35th NE in rain at five over the speed limit. My eyes water, brake lights signal for me to stop and I have to adjust to having the rear brake on the right lever. I take a bike up a favorite climb, hang a right instead of the usual left and find a route back to the base of the climb.

Now I get out of the saddle and rock the bike. Pushing the way my co-worker, who was the bike’s former owner, would have. Though without her speed or power. The carbon spins up fast and has a glide quality. The bike requires attention. Some would call it lithe, others would call it twitchy. On the flats I click through the gears quickly, easily gaining speed. The frame is of the aero variety, but I’m not going fast enough for that to matter.

I didn’t drive that Honda for very long, a year at most. There were times when I drove it in a way that fit the rumble of its engine. Too fast at times: speeding down the Shoreway at rush hour, racing Ben in his Mitsubishi. Going 120 mph down I-90 after a fight with my girlfriend. It looked and sounded fast, but in the end it wasn’t me. I sold it to my brother and bought cheaper car.

I pilot the bike toward work after one more short steep climb. In the service area I remove the wheels and clean the wet ride off the bike. I strip off a bottle cage, my Garmin, and the pedals and put them in my locker. After punching in I push the bike into the elevator and down to the sales floor. It goes into a stand next to the sales counter.

At closing I put the pedals back on my bike. Made with supposedly inferior materials and ride home. My bike isn’t lithe. It is smooth, corners well and is comfortable. The way I think it should be.

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