Monday, January 21, 2008

Maldita Bicicleta!

Watched this great movie yesterday dubbed in Spanish but from Quebec (so Canadians help out here since I didn’t see the title credits) that was about a woman mtn bike downhill racer-turned-bicycle messenger. Through the course of the movie, she stumbles upon a curmudgeonly bike shop owner, Leonardo, an ex-pro from the Eddy Merckx era, who eventually becomes her mentor, teaching her things like; old traditions (wool), Campagnolo, and the beauty of a hand-built wheel.

The best scene is when she is suffering on her bike when on her deliveries, she goes to Leonardo’s for some comfort. They end up telling each other how much they have suffered because of the bike. The best line of the movie is when Leonardo points to the classic Italian road bike hanging in the rafters of the shop, and yells at it “Maldita bicicleta!” Which can be translated as “F***’n bicycle!”

How have you suffered because of the bike? Both physically and emotionally. Worst case is probably death, or crippled, but how has the bike shaped you?

Physical Pain and Suffering

- Broken wrist from crashing my Schwinn Stingray when I was about 9 years old.
- Left index finger: nerve damage…from when I was about10 years old. Doing maintenance on the front hub of my Stingray, when I cut my finger bad, never told anyone, just put the skin flap back on, wrapped it real tight to stop the bleeding and then put a band aid on it. It still bothers me to this day…kind of tingles and itches, and doesn’t have the sensitivity of my other fingertips.
- Heavy scarring of both elbows from multiple crashes on the Stingray and other bikes…especially a bad crash on the first road bike in the early 70’s.
- Permanent trucker’s and cyclist’s tan.
- Chipped tooth from face plant on my new Fisher ProCaliber summer of 1988. Still have the emergency bonding on the tooth 20 years later, and it is starting to wear down, so one tooth looks slightly longer than the other. I need to get it capped some day.
- Sever concussion and neck injury. I woke up in the hospital…cost me over $3000 (at time when I had no insurance) in 1995. I don’t have full range of motion in my neck when turning my head to the left.
- “Cyclist’s neck”…a physical therapist pointed this one out. My head is out of normal alignment from my body. It kind of juts forward because of the muscles in the neck are over developed due to riding posture.
- Hyper-extended right elbow about 3 years ago when I crashed on Steiner’s Rohloff-equipped bike (steep head angle plus twist shift made for twitchy ride and an unfamiliar grip on the bar) on the Quaking Aspen Trail in Gallup. Rode back to the car using only one arm. Never went to the doctor…it still hurts when I ride…a dull pain in my right elbow.

Emotional Suffering and/or Guilt Feelings
- It is mostly what I think about…my bikes, wanting to ride my bike, where to ride my bike, etc…
- Alone time…I like being alone. The bike is perfect that.
- Relationships have suffered. My wife is understanding but still doesn’t get it. She got up out of bed and went to watch TV when I started writing this…(it was 2:00 AM when I started this)
- My professional career. I became a school teacher so I could ride my bike. My grandfather told me one day in 1982, “Boy…The only job what I can think of where you can ride that bike 180 days a year is school teach’n.” Good advice, so I took him up on the offer. I like my job, but sometimes I think I don’t have the passion for it like some teachers and I feel guilty about it. My real passion is still my bicycle.
- Sleeplessness…see above.

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