Friday, June 26, 2009

My Randonneuring Bicycle, Part 2: More than the sum of her parts

As a union organizer, I've been accused from time to time of being a revolutionary. Tricky word, that. But I got to pondering my recent post about my current randonneuring bicycle, and recognized that I wasn't doing her justice, either individually or as a representative of her class. My current randonneuring bicycle is more than the sum of her component parts; why she's a bloody revolutionary!

She, like her sister bicycles everywhere, is a serious change agent. Just look at her in front of this big red barn from Sunday's ride, ready to git gittin'.

She's 33 years old, and burns no oil (excepting chain lubrications). Consistently, she challenges me to realize my better self. She takes me places I'd otherwise never visit, and she could quite possibly be a big part of the solution sitting beneath our noses to the problem of our self-destruction via fossil fuel consumption. (For the model of eschewing the burn-the-oil status quo see Kent Peterson who has gone carless--talk about a revolutionary act--for years and years!)

And like revolutionaries everywhere, she is that curious amalgam of real-world sturdiness imbued with her own beauty, absolute practicality soaked in abundant charm, and all the while answering to no one and yet eliciting broad appeal. Wheeled vehicles like her have a history of revolutionary change as attested to by my wife's posing with her steed alongside yesteryear's wagon.

If I seem over-the-top, understand just how remarkable bicycles are. They are the most efficient means of self-transportation for humans. Think about that.

And when I unceremoniously listed her component parts in my previous post (See Part 1, The sum of her parts), I omitted her very soul and her ability to satisfy mine (See also Part 3: First Tease). Also, check out Part 4: Let the Build Begin!

Others climb mountains for adventure. Cool. Or sail the seas. I considered that. But she transports my soul to my chosen or unexpected adventures while connecting me with the land, introducing me to new pals, and moving my legs and heart a whole life's long as Nature intended my legs and heart to do. And, she makes my cycling companions and me smile.

OK, she's got soul and she's a soul mover. What about her fitness for the seeking of adventure we call randonneuring? For fellow newbie randonneurs I have an obligation to say that one doesn't need a snazzy ride to randonneur (even though future posts of mine will document the creation of my new snazzy ride). As I recalled all the componentry of my current randonneuring bicycle it became obvious that I have switched out most original parts by now. Even that is not necessary, fellow newbies. Many randonneurs have and will ride brevets with old and new, faddish and unfashionable, and even unreliable bicycles, though I don't recommend the latter. Just know that there is no "must" for a Randonneuse.

What would I like her to have today that just wasn't widely available in 1976?

Wider tires and room for fenders.
A front rack built for her unique geometry. Braze-ons for three water bottles and a pump peg. A dependable lighting system integrated into her design.

But then, would I have had the sense to make them part of the order had they been available? Fenders were so not the thing. Wider tires would have elicited smirks.

The truth of it is that if I couldn't buy a new bicycle today I could certainly and happily keep tweaking the old Fuji, and she'd do fine.

Like all bicycles she is way more than the sum of her component parts. She is serious transportation and outrageous kid-on-the-bicycle-for-the-first-time fun. How can one vehicle be so much of both at once? Save us from our polluting selves and fun to pedal around with no object other than the pedaling? She is very simply the embodiment of the most revolutionary and transformative truth we all seek after.
It's what we get when we fall in love with one another.

What we want most of all is what she delivers: that special coming together when 1 + 1 = 3.

Keep it adding up,


UPDATE: For a hint at how I'm thinking about the new randonneuring bicycle I'm having built up, check out this post.


  1. "As a union organizer, I've been accused from time to time of being a revolutionary."

    I get that too. my response is to remind people that this country is the product of the work of revolutionaries. If it were npot for thise that felt strongly enough, we'd be part of a different country.

    Yr Pal Dr C