Sunday, February 5, 2012

the last thing i wanted to do when my alarm went off this sunday morning was ride.

no, not true; the last thing i wanted to do was leave the sanctuary of a dark and warm bed, next to a dark-haired, warm lady, to walk down some dark, cold stairs, dress in the dark, ride in the cold dark, and stick my bike on a trainer to just be as fat and slow as i was the last time i did that.

of course, i got up anyway.

i'm paying good money for this. i've spent thousands of dollars on riding clothes and bikes and bike parts. the least i can do is show up to a 6:30 a.m. self-led computrainer ride and hammer myself until the sun comes up. so i did. and it made everything wonderful.

hooked up to a computrainer, the bike is held there, suspended in mid-air, by attachment to its rear axle. the front wheel remains stationary. the bike couldn't fall over if it wanted to. i go nowhere. going nowhere is a great place to be when contemplating things. i contemplated a lot of things today, and forgot about all of them on the ride home, because then i was going somewhere, and there was much to pay attention to, mostly as a matter of survival. the front wheel moved. i look at it periodically, because i am very proud of it. i built it a few nights ago when i should have been doing homework. i followed jobst brandt step by step. i did everything mike t said to do. i took the longest i've ever taken to build a wheel, since my first one, and most of this time was in the tensioning of all the spokes, a quarter turn at a time. all the spokes were greased at each end. all the nipple beds were greased before i even put nipples into the rim. i turned things slowly. i repeated sequences. i took breaks. i allowed for unwinding of the spokes. i kept tensioning. i dished.

and then, after three and a half hours, there was a wheel.

it was the nicest wheel i had ever built. the parts were not a lot of specialness, or at least, not the hub. the lacing pattern was staid and correct and the opposite of flashy. the nipples were brass. the spokes crossed 3 times. the labels all match up. nothing special, at all. but when i spun that wheel in the truing stand, it was hard to tell that it was spinning at all when i looked at it dead on. it was the straightest, roundest wheel i had ever built. i think it was the wheel i had built with the least apprehension, and the most patience. i must be getting old.

i was talking to my lady friend a couple of days later, and one thing led to another, and there i was, being stupid and overtalking my abilities in one arena or another, to compensate for my lack of abilities on the bike, particularly as compared to her and her lady riding friends. it's the truth: she's just stronger and faster. and it's also true that i'm just getting older, and being sidelined by injuries (to bikes or bodies) and overworked schedules doesn't make getting faster any easier. i let all of this boil up, and boil over. i was stupid. i sounded like the youth. i flew off the handle. i attacked her friends because i was afraid of how weak i really was. this is not getting old. this is acting like a dumb, shameful, gutless kid with nothing to show for hard-learned lessons. this is like falling and throwing the bike (as if it crashed by itself).

of course, i cooled off, changed my language, and apologized.

this is how it goes when you get old and patient. you come back around, use a different tack, make it right, learn for next time, emerge better, or at least, not behind. i went around and around that wheel more than 6 full times, tightening each spoke by a quarter turn. each time around, i did stress relief of all types on all the spokes. a ping here. a pang there. more turns. more relief. a true wheel. i suspended a cylinder of aluminum in a woven web of stainless steel rods inside a round, straight aluminum hoop. i did that right, 28 times. and for some reason, i still couldn't carry on a non-offensive conversation. oh man...

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