Tuesday, April 27, 2010

more than meets the eye.

bicycles are magical.

take, for instance, my current inability to feel most of my extremities. the once mundane/routine/underdistanced task of tapping out thoughts in coherent words and sentences has become a work of effort, requiring extreme concentration and a new consideration of my fine motor skills. consider, also, the wonderful warming of my facial dermis, and the rekindling of sensation in each and every square millimeter just under my chin. i never think about these parts of myself. and now, after some time on the bicycle, here they are, apparent and wonderful and decidedly me. i like bikes.

i also like how bikes make people better.

i leave the door open at my workplace, dump a bunch of donated bikes and parts all over the room, pop open my personal toolbox, and start getting my hands dirty. inevitably, within ten minutes or fewer (i'm usually still downing my lunch when it happens), someone will come wandering in with a question, a broken bike, or some hands just itching to touch something greasy. it's fantastic. oftentimes, these persons are 'the youth', and they are refreshingly curious, even if reluctantly so, and it makes them better people. they ask questions. they tease each other. they admit that they know little of bikes, or they admit how much they know of bikes and it's enough to make me excited. the same people i would just as soon have left for jail or hard service are now transformed and being worthwhile and all about a pile of rusted bike junk. and the guy they would just as soon have thrown out the window or laughed at while he gets crushed by a fly-by SUV is now someone who might know something and might even be a little bit cool because he likes bikes too, and can fix them at no charge. hm. bikes make me better. every damn time.

i like how bicycles make loblaws a destination that has nothing to do with food. (see redway road, toronto.) i like how bicycles make me go faster than 42mph without even trying, and then make me go 3mph giving it everything i've got. i like how bicycles can be metaphors for the hardest and best parts of life. i like how i know a lot about bicycles, and still so very little. i like how bicycles bring the world to me. i like how bicycles are something in common with many different people, everywhere.

i was walking back from my sister's house the other night, heading down pape street, and carrying a couple of campagnolo wheelbags. (more on the ridiculously awesome scirocco's later.) two gentlemen were standing outside the barber shop, and as i passed by, one called out. i had no idea what he was saying, but he was definitely talking to me, and talking about the wheels, it seemed. he apologized after the third time i said, 'what?', and said that he would slow himself down. turns out he is from jamaica. he saw my wheelbags and wanted to see the wheels, wondered if they were really campagnolo wheels inside. we opened one and he took it out (my daughters and partner waiting patiently throughout this inter-walk-home-meeting), marveling and asking if it was for sale. i told him no, that i had just gotten them myself. he asked for how much, and said it was a great deal. that they were really nice wheels. he told me he used to race in jamaica. i told him that meant he must be crazy fast. he just smiled and looked wistful and spry and fast. i smiled and told him to have a great night. it was the highlight of my weekend. a guy from jamaica talks to a guy from nowhere about italian bike parts on a street in toronto and they both get excited about one thing: bikes.

bicycles are magical. 

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