With no work on my desk today, I decided to get out on my bike.
I started rambling in a generally southwest direction without any plan in mind, not following any of my usual routes. I eventually wound up on that path next to Lamar, which took me as far as 12th St. I felt unaccountably nervous on this path–I’d never ridden on it before, but that shouldn’t be enough to make me feel wigged out. At the southern end of the path, I did run into a few obstacles that justified some nervousness–a few dips, swerves, and one really bad bump in the pavement. I took the bump hard, but thought I got over it without incident.
Eventually I decided to ride 360, and made my way over towards the Town Lake pedestrian bridge. After crossing the bridge, I noticed that the city seems to be working on a new path that will connect the south end of the bridge to Rollingwood, which will be a boon to outbound cyclists–but in order to take advantage of it on the inbound side, one would need to ride against traffic for a few yards.
The ride up 360 was fun and uneventful, but with a wind out of the north, was a lot of work. I noticed a couple of deer grazing right out by the highway, which I had never seen before. Gosh, I wonder if they’d been displaced from their usual habitat? [he said, with great sarcasm] When I got to the convenience store at Steck & Mesa, I discovered it had been more work than I knew: my back wheel had been knocked out of true and was intermittently rubbing against the brakes. That would explain why I had been averaging 14.5 mph. I headed over to Nelo’s, my favorite shop (fortunately very close at this point), and once there, we discovered I had actually broken a spoke. I’ve done that only once before, in a really serious accident, so I was very surprised. Nelo had built that wheel, and I joked to him “you built this wheel–it should be bulletproof!” He put a loaner wheel on my bike and sent me home while he worked on my wheel.
I made it the rest of the way home without incident. Coming in on Shoal Creek, I caught up with a guy on a really fancy mountain bike–full suspension, disc brakes, the works. Except he definitely wasn’t dressed like a cyclist (gym shorts and Keds), and the one serious telltale: cheap quill pedals. Normally, someone with a bike like this would be riding clipless pedals–bikes at that level usually don’t even come with pedals, on the assumption that the rider will want to put on the clipless pedal system of his choosing. If they do come with pedals, they’re cheap throw-aways–like this guy had.
A lot of cyclists are snobs about their sport, and I’ll admit I’m one. There are levels of snobbishness: Some won’t condescend to wave at anyone–I assume this is either because they don’t want to break their perfect aerodynamic position, they view everyone else as a competitor, or at that moment you aren’t in their road/mountain/commuter clique. Some will only be friendly towards someone with a fancy bike that shows they’ve made a monetary commitment to the sport.
What turns my snob-knob up to 11, though, is a rider who isn’t as good as his bike. There’s nothing wrong with being a recreational rider of modest abilities and aspirations on a modest bike. There’s nothing wrong with being a great cyclist on a humble ride or a superbike. But when a guy in tube socks, who considers five miles to be a real workout, is riding a fancy bike, he is a fred.