Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Monday, April 04, 2005

OCD, Mortification, Gratification -- Today's Commute

This is a cycling post -- a triptych, in fact. If you don't want to read it, don't.

OCD -- Last night, I spent nearly 30 minutes with 3-D mag-lite held fastidiously in one hand and tweezers in another, slowly spinning one by one the wheels of my fixie with the unwatched TV droning in the background, pulling embedded pebbles and glass fragments out of the tires. It was riveting, and even thrilling: each fragment removed, some of which had burrowed deep below the tire's surface, was like a plucked errant hair, or a finally-excised tenacious and nearly infected splinter. I sighed audibly more than once. This is why Moon isn't allowed to have hobbies. They take him over utterly.

Mortification -- Today, as I rode up the long Penn Avenue hill thinking I was keeping a better pace than usual, a courier I had seen around town but never met startled me by pulling abreast (I'm still not used to the fact that fixies are effectively silent, though of course mine is as well, and I've startled a few people too) and passing by. We exchanged greetings, then lingered together at the 40th street light. He commented that he liked my pants, which are cut mid-calf (originally, to facilitate climbing, but now they save me the trouble of rolling the chainwheel cuff) and that he should do the same. As he pulled up into a flawless, comfortable trackstand, and I started my not-quite-track-standing inching forward maneuver, I quipped that I'd trade a pair of cut-off pants for the ability to trackstand. He said something about practice. I unclipped my foot in shame.

Gratification -- He noticed, as I crept, that my bike was fixed, and complimented it. He asked after my frame, and I had to confess I wasn't sure of its origins. We rode together, and held up a half-heard conversation, for the next four or five blocks until we reached my street and I begged off. It was fun. The air was cool. The conversation friendly. The bike silken beneath me. And with company, I thought nothing of my vague sense of fatigue as I kept pace with the professional.

Tomorrow, I ride the Oakland triangle commute, and see if I can get my chainring bolts to hold for an entire day. Tonight, I nearly snapped my wrist trying to screw them down just a little bit tighter than I usually do. They're driving me crazy. Crazy, I say. At least my lockring seems snug again; this morning on Grant Street once or twice, and this afternoon in the Strip way too many times (what is it, lately, with traffic in the Strip District?), I found myself having to lock up. And for the first time in weeks, the bike actually obliged every time without any slippage in the drivetraing. She really needs a name, doesn't she. I think I'm subconsciously holding off until I find her a new set of wheels, and her full potential comes into view. After all, it took me almost nine months to name Luther, and I'll be paying for him for the next five years.


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