22 May, 2012
Eric and Billy are Ninjas
Eric (this is a pseudonym by the way, names were changed to protect the innocent and besides he’s in the witness protection program) and I had post-ride talk today. It all started with the ride with my teacher-of-the-year home skillet and 1/3 of the homey trinity: Billy aka Hez-Chilly (which is a variant on the militant Islamic group Hezbollah, which is a variant on Hez-Billy, where I arrived on his moniker: Hez-Chilly, get it?). I could write a whole blog on Hez-Billy (that's his real name by the way), also my Ninja, but I digress…
…Eric and I have very similar life trajectories. Even though he is merely a child as compared to yours truly who’s in his twilight years, we are quite sympatico. We both love bikes, not solely as a vehicle of utilitarian purposes but for the simple aesthetics of it (I can stare at a clean bike for hours given my druthers); we love the athletes who suffer for a pittance in National Tours; we raced and still race all manner of bikes (‘cross, mountain, road-well I guess that’s all), we went through a mind numbing divorce of nutty, mental proportions, we actually lived in Alamogordo, NM (‘nuff said), we’re single Dads and we truly love the simple (I guess simple is relative) things in life.
It all started after Hez-Chilly and I did our annual post-graduation cycle-fest. About 470 kids at our HS graduated today and to commemorate that, we went on a bike ride, a mountain bike ride. So, I like have this new ride from Airborne called the Guardian (same frame as the Goblin) and it’s red. Red is the color of passion. It reminds me of lips. Billy showed me a statue of lips today at the University of Denver’s Ritchie Center and I liked it. In fact, I wanted to kiss it, it looked so inviting (but I didn't). Coincidental? I think not. When unpassionate things are colored red it’s like polishing a turd. It just ain’t happening. My new, red Guardian is truly a work of art that’s race ready (and diametrically opposed to said turd). This was my second ride where I can truly push the performance envelope. Yesterday I took it on a hill climb workout and it rocked but today with Billy, we did rather rocky climbs on tight singletrack, off-the-beaten-singletrack in a place called Green Mountain. We went chilly-chill and after a lap, Billy had a tutoring gig and after our teary-eyed goodbyes (c’mon, I’m a guy, NOT!) I tore off for a second lap of $hit on your neighbor intensity.
I’m 5’7”and weigh 135 lbs. Ain’t a whole of competitive cycling disciplines this morphology is good for. I suck at individual TTs, can barely tolerate criteriums, and long road races usually get me cramping but you know what I can do? I can climb. I climb all right (for an old guy). I haven’t checked out my prowess in a climbing road race so I might just be talking out of me arse. I’ll let you know if I do the Colorado State Road Race Championships. On the second lap I tried my darndest to go at TT pace without being a dick to other trail users (I always yield to other hikers and uphill cyclists). The Guardian was killin’ it! There was a valley on the course where the downhill was shorter than the uphill but if you have sprint intensity you can punch yourself up the hillside marching the big gears. I stood on the pedals mightily, cranked and wailed and contorted myself on the cockpit to get every ounce of energy delivered to the rear wheels with the lockout on, and not only did she not break traction but she was super quiet (nice component build-X7), tracked nicely due to its wheelbase, and the gearing choices were sufficient from the 10 x 2 setup (goodbye 9 x 3)thereby punching me over the top. At the top, she whispered in my ear, is that all you have? I replied with a smile. I stood on the the crankarms with so much force it actually hurt the bottoms of my feet due to my shoes' stiff carbon insole. Sho-nuff peeps there is little left to do in the dialing-in department. She was an extension of my piston-type legs! The big wheels, should you daydream at speed, will take you flying off the mountain. When Billy shot out of the cannon at the beginning of the ride (I thought this was going to be chilly-chill?), I saw him down the course and I punched it. I was also noticing how picture perfect downtown Denver was in the distance. And in just that short distance, Peneolope picked up so much speed that I was about to go flying off the trail into a ravine. I did a supreme counter steer, contortionistic body English while locking up the brakes to get me back into my line. This bike is FAST yet compliant enough to take your orders and translate it into manners on the trail. The Kinesis geometry is aggressive while the 29er takes a wee bit of edge of the babyheads if you can’t thread the needle in the rock garden. Great second lap and Penelope continues to impress me with what she’s capable of (translatable speed with confident steering, including very fast avoidance maneuvers, while looking sexy in red). She has balance too. On somewhat downhill sections of gradual serpentine profile, without too many babyheads, I take my hands off the bars and steer with my hips (yeah ladies! I apologize…). I rode nearly all of that short section hands free but needed to hit the brakes because I had to scrub off some speed. No shimmies, no nothing, like a sled y’all. Except it has wheels because you know, sleds have rails?
So, after that great ride (I truly don’t need much to keep me happy), I called Eric (mind you this is a pseudonym) for cosmic validation-a cosmic uh-huh from my Ninja. To keep a long story short, we are kindred spirits of the highest order (my inner circle of friends are more than avid cyclists) and how simple things like guilt-free bike riding is so mentally underestimated but can also lead to meaningful satisfaction that saturates all the fibers in your body with euphoria. To the uninitiated it looks like grown men riding a bike, a mere child’s toy. It doesn’t make sense. It’s like an inside joke for anachronistic weirdos (because of the UCI) and strangely esoteric to say the least (if you’ve been to a party where two cyclists have a conversation, it’s like a whole other language). But for Eric and Billy and for myself it’s the straw the breaks the camel’s back for making a difference in mood, identity, and self-inflicted, drug-free therapy. Riding isn’t our life, but the quality it provides us and the tangential opportunities that present itself in the cycling community, its absence would make us feel lost. So, Airborne cycles and Eric-my Ninja (and Jeremy), thanks for providing me a child’s toy where my homies and I can repeatedly find our happy place (it all begins with pedaling), burning enough calories for a beer or a doughnut or a cheese pizza (all at the same time if need be), and a means to $hit on my neighbor come XC race day. So, like Cube said in his seminal LP The Predator, this is dedicated to all the Ninja's [sic] down on day one.