Those Are Some Nice Wheels

by

He said to me as I walked into the room.

“Do you know anything about three speed internal hubs, I got an old Raleigh I wanna convert”.

“Well, I know what an internal hub is and I know Strumey-Archer makes one, but I don’t know if they’re compatible with Raliegh’s,” I replied.

“Oh, now, don’t get all technical on me, I don’t know what that is,” he said trying hard to continue engaging with me.

“Neither do I, I just know the frame I’m riding, really can’t help you out with more than that,” I said and sat down, becoming very intimate with the contents of my coffee cup.

“Nice rims, nice frame, what kind of bike is that?” He asked me last night as I was slipping my feet into my Hold Fast straps (big sticky super strong velcro straps that are great for fixed gear riding foot retention).

“Mission Bicycle,” I replied.

“They don’t make their own frames do they?” He asked getting a closer look at the back rim, the rim that I get a lot of attention for, whether on BART, in San Francisco, where they are a lot more common, or when I was in Paris.  It is a Velocity NMSW (Non-machine side wall–which means there is no braking surface and the rim is a big brick of color) Classic Purple rim hand laced with black spokes and a black hub.

“No, the design is their own, but they do not do the manufacturing,” I said and looked for the traffic coming up behind me.

“No helmet, eh?” He looked at me aghast.

“Nope, stopped wearing one when I started working there and watched a TED Talk on the futility of helmets and how the car lobbies want bicycling to appear more dangerous than it is so that fewer people will consider riding their bikes and stay in the ‘safety’ of their cars.” I said.

“I didn’t wear one in Paris either, and the traffic was a lot worse than this, actually, almost no one wore helmets in Paris.” I finished.

“Safe riding,” he said “you may change your mind.”

I may.

What I am thinking, however, is that I may change my gear and flip my wheel over to the other side.

I have a flip-flop hub on my rear wheel.

This means that I can take it out of fixed and ride it in free or coasting.

I finished the dog-sitting/house-sitting in North Oakland and I geared up to ride back to Graceland with a load of stuff in my bag.

My knees were sore when I got here.

I also went back out to get some groceries down the road at the Food Maxx and they, said knees, do indeed feel tender.

I have heard that riding in fixed gear for extended periods of time can stress your knees.

My knees are pretty much crap as it is.

If I am going to be making an hour and a half long bicycle commute on a pretty much daily basis, I may need to investigate going back to riding free versus fixed.

Despite loving how it feels when I am sailing down the road or banking a tight turn to the right.  The connection is so sexy, so a part of my body, the bicycle stops feeling like a machine between my legs and just an extension of my person.

The other thought is that I may just need to get my bike legs back.

I walked a ton in Paris, but I did not do that much biking.

Here I will be biking all the time.

I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of walking outside of Graceland proper for very long.

I can do it, I did it before when I was house-sitting here before the move to Paris, but at night I feel better on my bike.  And it is so much faster.

If I leave Graceland it will be on my bicycle 95% of the time.

I will see how my legs feel in another week.

Of course if I go dancing tomorrow night I know my knees will hurt, but man, it is generally worth the stiffness that follows the next day.  I won’t be dancing in heels, those days are gone, just my Chuck’s, but I still have some sore legs whenever I go out and break it off.

Partially as I have little restraint when it comes to dancing.

Hell, I have little restraint when it comes to anything, especially those things that bring me pleasure.

More is the mantra.

I have learned to winnow down some of those desires.

I tend to not drink coffee after 6pm.

Although I am often tempted and once in a while do succumb.

I don’t have sex with strangers.

Although I contemplate it often.

The thoughts aren’t bad are they?

Good thing I am not Catholic, I would be in the confessional all the fucking time.

I don’t eat sugar any more.

But man I do appreciate the smell of a bakery.

I do.

On my last walk with the dog today I headed out down San Pablo–I had an interest in exploring the San Pablo Flea Market–and I was across the street from Donut Farm and I could smell the goodness wafting across the road.

I stayed across the road.

There are a few things that I used to ‘appreciate’ as well, but not all smells and experiences bring me that visceral pleasure.

I do not like the way bars smell.

That rank mixture of old booze, vomit, and urinal puck just don’t do it for me.

Or the smell of pot.

Although, truth be told I never liked the smell of pot.  I’m allergic and I just find it offensive.

I used to enjoy the smell of a cigarette and once and awhile I still will catch a drift of one and even eight years later, I can enjoy that rich buttery tobacco smell.

However, more often than not, I no longer appreciate the smell and I am grateful that I don’t smoke anymore.

Fuck, I certainly could not get up and over the few hills I tackled yesterday on the bike.

Most of Oakland is flat, but once a week I will be heading up and over a few.

I don’t mind.

I made it up and I made it down.

And I have already noticed the change in shape of my legs and my bum and my tummy too–you use more stomach muscles than you think–in fact, if you are riding well you should not use your arms to prop you up.  The core muscles in your middle are more important.

Anywho.

This is a ramble of a blog.

Happy to be back at Graceland, inside, bicycle parked in the hallway, groceries in the kitchen, fresh-cut flowers from the yard in a vase by my bed.

Home again home again.

Jiggedy jig.

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