This weekend Lacey and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary. I have loved each year and each is better than the last.
Every aspect of our relationship has evolved. Bicycling is no exception. When we first rode together, I had trouble slowing down, and we’d bicker about something most every ride. Like so many before me, I thought a tandem was the answer. Live and learn. Riding a tandem together only accelerated the descent into darkness. Hard when you are learning how to be together to be forced to pedal at the same time and at the same speed.
Lacey has always been more fit than I am, way more fit, but she runs more than she pedals. Also does yoga and work out videos like she is training for the Olympics. But pedaling isn’t for her second nature. She pedaled lots as a kid and the stories suggest she loved every minute of it. My favorite story involved her rolling down a hill and removing all limbs from all control points. The results are predictable and she still has a small scar. She is also proud of her bike tour around the Cape as a teenager. Makes me jealous! For all the riding I have done, the only touring I have done was an overnight with a friend to a local lake. This was in July, 1981! I am on the left, wearing the Jack Daniel’s cap. The lake was about 13 miles from our home. We fished, slept in a tent, had breakfast and pedaled home. Loved it, but it was no tour of the Cape.
Like most American kids, though, Lacey lost interest in cycling. Then she met me. Doubt she was immediately amped to get back on a bicycle, but I took advantage of the fog of new love. One of my first gifts to Lacey was a bicycle. A Fisher mountain bicycle. Not even a Gary Fisher, but it was, and is, a very usable bicycle. I added toe clips and slicks. Slicks were great. Toe clips maybe not so great. Toe clips were new to her. As we have all experienced when new to hooking our feet to our pedals, she has fallen over while coming to a stop. I think just once, though. It was on the sidewalk in the Old Market in Omaha. I felt like shit, watching her do the slow speed “TIMBER” right in front of me and everyone else one the busy sidewalk. She didn’t need toe clips, didn’t ask for them, but I rode with toe clips so she should to (said my young brain). Learn from our mistakes!
In the early years, seemed like Lacey rode with me mostly when it wasn’t easily avoided. She was a trooper, but it wasn’t easy. Over the years, though, things changed for the better. We grew together. Lacey became a stronger pedaler. I became weaker. She became more confident in traffic. I became less confident (more conservative and hopefully safer). Of course, I bought her more bicycles.
I built her up a special Bridgestone X-02. Bought the frame in Boulder and the parts from all over. Pre eBay, so I visited bicycle stores all over the country. Then a Trek sport tourer. EBay provided a Panasonic racing bicycle with Shimano 600 parts, a pink Dawes mixte and a Bridgestone CB-1. Since we have been in Albany, we’ve added a Triumph 3 speed and an ANT.
More important than the bicycles, though, our rides got better because we started picking rides that we would both enjoy. Long rides are good when the weather is perfect. Don’t need perfect weather if we are going shorter, though. Helps if the destination is something about which we both care. Movies, dinner, garage sales, vintage clothes shopping and visiting friends are all good. Some of the best rides have no destination at all, and either one of us can veto the ride at any time. Tired, cold, hungry or bored? We head home! It doesn’t always work. We are still learning. I think critical masses are more or less off the list. Lacey isn’t comfortable around aggressive pedaling. Even though I am a very polite CMer, I am more likely to do something akin to aggressive pedaling when I am in a critical mass and Lacey doesn’t want any part of this.
The weekend we got married was warm and sunny. This weekend the weather was mixed. Our anniversary saw pouring rain all day. We got out only to walk Frida and go to dinner. It poured while we walked Frida. Dinner was nice. We drove. New World Cafe did a wonderful job catering to our needs as vegans. Only had to modify the menu a bit to make it perfect, and they were happy to oblige. Most of the day was spent in bed, John and Yoko style.
The other weekend day was beautiful. Dry with some sun. We pedaled to the Spectrum to see A Serious Man. Whoa! Serious film. See it.
Also spent some time reading. Finished David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries. Wonderful to spend time with Mr. Byrne, and proud to have him on the team of pedalers. I hope Byrne fans who don’t pedal read this book. Might convert a few. Probably the case, though, that the overwhelming majority of readers will be serious pedalers already. Isn’t it sad? How many books have you read that advocate this or that and the reason you read them is because they advocate something you already believe in. Makes you feel good to read something touting what you already do. The folks who need to read the book seldom do.
Byrne is 55 or so. Likes to pedal slow, wearing street clothes, and explore new places. He doesn’t wear a helmet when he rides places he feels safe. Because he travels all over the globe, he gets to explore new cities all the time. Makes me want to get a folding bicycle and take it with me on business trips. I explore when I travel for work, but on foot. I can only get so far. If I only had a bicycle! I probably won’t get the folder, though. If I do, I doubt I will take it on the plane. I fly United and they charge $125 each way. If I had more time, I’d rent a bicycle. Did that once in Boston and will always remember it. The shop rented used bicycles so you didn’t look like a tourist. Boston traffic was heavy but it was easy to ride ride through it. Had lunch at a vegan Chinese joint. Visited a small bicycle shop in in Cambridge where I saw my first ANT. A special day, but it won’t often be repeated. I always want to get home to be with Lacey. She is more fun than exploring alone.
Sounds like a lot of David’s bicycling is done alone. So much of mine has been. It isn’t easy to find someone who wants to go where you want to go, when you want to go, and ride the way you ride. Partners can be found, but either they will ride too fast, too slow, run red lights or something that makes it hard. As a kid I always rode alone. Hot summers in Nebraska had me bicycling to downtown Lincoln at 1:00 in the morning. Cool and no traffic. I pedaled very quickly. Used to use the big ring up front all the time. Never do anymore. Often remove the big ring and the front derailleur from my road bikes. Sigh. Youth and the days of the big ring. Wonderful days.
Later in life I was in Omaha and didn’t find many potential bicycling partners. They were probably there, but I didn’t know them. For a time I went on weekend trips with my coworkers. We’d visit rails to trails projects in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. Loved it, but the trips dried up after a time. I miss them. Good riding partners, but nothing is forever.
Met a kid who woke me up to the importance of driving less. For the environment, obvious. This wasn’t always so obvious to me. He pointed out that it made no sense to put your bike on a car to carry the bike somewhere to ride. End up using more gas than if you didn’t bike at all. Better to ride around the city. Transportation biking! Can’t shake that now. It is second nature. Hard for me to ever put the bikes on the car anymore. I hear his voice when I even think of a trip. Car bike trips still happen, but not very often.
Moved to Albany and met dozens of like minded bicyclists. Thought I would never ride alone again. I organized little rides with motley crews to explore industrial graveyards in the area. I was invited to go on rides. Still am, but with increased use of the internet to organize events, it seems every ride is potentially huge and always impersonal. Can’t leave anyone out and it is just easier to send the invite to the listserve group. Sometimes this is great, but often not. I have become pretty particular about route, speed and following the law. When I have tried to set up rides with others lately, I call just one or two folks at the last minute with predictably poor results. I need to try harder and more often.
Luckily, I married the perfect pedaling partner. That is what Lacey is, now, after all these years of togetherness. Over hundreds of rides together we’ve learned to respect the needs of the other. We pedal the same speed. We stop at stop lights. We ride single file. We want to go the same places. Easy to coordinate with her, too, as she is always a few steps away. More often than not, then, when I am riding with someone the other is Lacey. I couldn’t be happier. Lacey is the ideal life partner, too, but we’re talking bicycles here.
I once saw David Byrne bicycling on 6th Avenue in NYC. Thought it was him, but was never really sure. Looked like him. He had white hair and a light cotton suit and was riding something that looked like an English 3 speed. Now that I know he has been bicycling around NYC for years, I am sure it was him. I’ll bet I’d like pedaling with him almost as much as I like pedaling with Lacey.
Better close, as she should be home any second.