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.

dogma_494_minio

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.


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