The Bike Invisible

I know a guy who has a beautiful and fancy Pinarello Dogma road bike, with a curvy, twisty frame and 11-speed Campagnolo cassette. Having all ceramic bearings, this bike is the smoothest-rolling machine this guy has owned, he says. And given his 70+ years, he’s owned a lot. I keep offering to trade him straight across for my bike. Somehow, he never takes me up on that.


Not so ordinary Pinarello bike. Maybe not the paint scheme I’d go with, or the wheels, but I’d still trade you for it, with my bike, straight across …

My Bike

My perfectly ordinary bike.

You see, my bike is average, ordinary. Heavy, by today’s standards. (20 lbs? I don’t know, I’ve never weighed it.) Nothing special to look at. It’s got lots of scratches and wears and tears — a testament to the 45,000 miles I’ve ridden it. It’s certainly not worth the price of a Pinarello, (for some of their models, $10,000 and upwards).

The Pinarellos are some of the nicest bikes out there. That is, unless you are into owning a custom bike, built to your specifications and your unique body geometry. And I know a guy who has such a bike, a beautiful Crumpton bike, born hand-made in Austin, Texas. This bike weighs 13 lbs fully loaded. You can easily pick it up with two fingers. This Crumpton masterpiece has a mesmerizing paint job that virtually glows in the sunshine, revealing a hologram-like carbon fiber weave pattern under a layer of glossy overcoat. Who knows what this bike cost, but it sure is a beauty.

Crumpton bicycle

Crumpton custom bike. Yeah, I own, like two or three of these. I lost count … (Yeah, right!)

I sometimes wish I had a newer, fancier bike, more glossy, more sparkly. But you know what? That bike-lust vanishes as soon as I get on my ordinary bike and start riding. In fact, my whole bike vanishes underneath me. I’m so attuned to its movements that it’s like the bike is not there. I sometimes feel I’m riding on air. (Well, my “bottom” might not agree with that assessment …)

And should I be riding next to a Crumpton or Pinarello, a funny thing happens: Those bikes vanish, too.

You see, once I’m in motion, it’s matters not what my bike looks like, or what others look like. I don’t notice my bike or their bikes anymore. I only notice the exhilaration of moving through the wind, at speed, around corners, up hills, down hills, and on straight-aways. I’m part of a pack, and experience something I imagine is not unlike being in a herd of caribou, where from a wolf’s perspective, one caribou is pretty much like another. Once the pack is moving, all bikes — from the lowliest bike-path cruiser to the highest-end Crumpton or Pinarello — become the same. They become invisible. They are just machines after all, a means to an end.

After the pack has stopped, the bikes slowly become visible again. I notice the Crumpton, the Pinarello, the latest electronic shifters, the fancy, light, $2,000 carbon fiber wheels. I notice my average, ordinary bike.

Not that I care, mind you. I’m perfectly happy with what I have. It gets me the places I want to go, and that’s all that really matters.

Leave a Reply