The Vanities

A week ago I was out on our first really warm day. I hadn’t ridden on the Olympic Peninsula for close to a year and I wanted to take advantage of being able to ride with uncovered legs for the first time since ‘cross season ended. The sun was warm and the roads were as good as I remembered them, but my fitness was lacking from the last time I climbed up the wall of Egg and I road.

It was shortly after that climb, when I had turned north again and the sun was at my back that I noticed — maybe for the first time or was maybe just reminded of the fact — a small dip of my left shoulder with each pedal stroke. There was no value judgement, it is the way it is. Well, maybe there was a hint of sadness at the fact that I was lacking the lack of something. I also noticed a small knot forming in that same shoulder. My spin has also gone ragged over the last year, and I just now wonder if one has to do with the other, but that’s something to tackle some other time.

The knot grew worse after a 117 mile day and a night of sleep. Now I’m on my second build since I had a fit and so I went in to see my bike doctor to make sure the numbers fit the height and distance of the bars.

“You need a 9 cm”

I twisted my face up in disgust and then wondered if Terry saw. He raised the stem up to the zenith of the uncut steerer. Now I used to be able to run 7cm of drop over a long day without a hint of discomfort.

“We could stick with the 11 and drop it down a spacer and set it to the 96 position.” He theorized out loud.

“I can’t have that. It has to be pointed down as far as I’m concerned. I said.

“Yeah” Terry agreed.

In the end I left with the stem raised all the way up, but pointed down. We settled on running a 100 mm stem which is 5 mm “too long” according to the numbers, I was running it a full cm too long on that comfortable cross bike, but I had one at home and it wasn’t a 90, so I put it on, then immediately lowered it 2.5mm. It may be right, but I felt like I was on a hybrid and I hated the way the bike looked with all those spacers underneath. It’s vanity. I know and accept it.

Some accept that their bike fit is their bike fit and don’t think much about whether their stem rises, leaning tower like to the sky or points toward the earth. Maybe they are of a higher level than I am, able to accept the limitations of their bodies, while I am suffer to conform myself to some ideal I’m unable to reach. Not unlike a sinner – aware of how they have missed the mark, but continue on trying to do right and are maybe purer for it. On the face of it this debate is stupid. Your bike fit is your bike fit (regardless of the bike’s head tube height) as I used to tell customers. I would be told that the pain of cycling should come from your legs, not your shoulders or back, but I need the thing to look like my perception of a bike. I might have to deal with a little suffering.

The bike also handled terribly. Yeah, that’s it.

I think this looks good. Which reminds me of that old saw, to look good is to ride good.
I think this looks good. Which reminds me of that old saw, to look good is to ride good.

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