The Seatpost Letters
(apologies to C. S. Lewis)
"The Devil, the proud spirit, cannot endure to be mocked." - Sir Thomas More
As I was dressing for my ride yesterday, a devil appeared in my bedroom. Devils rarely make themselves visible to me, except during political campaigns of course, so I was startled by his appearance. The more so because he was riding what appeared to be a recumbent bike from Wal-mart, and dressed like Rush Limbaugh. I took some notes on our conversation.
"Who are you?"
"Hi, my name's Rob. I'm an apprentice tempter. I'm here to make you give up riding."
"I don't think you're going to have much success with that. Really, wouldn't your time be better spent trying to undermine someone's faith?"
"Nah, the apprentice tempters are given simple tasks at first. I'm new at the academy, so I start out here."
"You don't look like a demon, Rob. You look like an insurance salesman. Where's the pitchfork, horns, and cloven hooves? Your tie is crooked, by the way." It was ugly as well, but I didn't say so.
"Sorry," he said as he straightened his tie. "You are my first project, so I thought I'd dress up for it. "
"Speaking of dressing, Rob, I have to get ready to ride. You can come if you like. Bring that - thing - you are riding with you. Are those clipless pedals?"
Rob pulled a wadded packet of notes from his pocket. Two sheets fell to the floor as he did so, and he stooped to pick them up.
"Sorry," he said as he arranged the papers. "So in conclusion you see - no, wrong one. One minute please." After he reordered the papers he began again. "Neil how can you go out dressed like that?"
"I'm a bicyclist, and bicyclists often wear clothes like this."
"But you're fat."
"I was very fat. Now I'm a lot less fat, and I'll be less and less fat in the future."
"But you're fat. People will laugh at you if you dress like that."
"I think if people haven't seen either a fat person or a bicyclist before, they are more to be pitied than censured. I've worn Lycra in public before, and the world didn't end."
"You're fat. You can't ride a bike."
"I can, and I do. Is that the best you have, Rob, we are burning daylight."
"You are a fat man. You look ridiculous on a bike."
"All bicyclists look ridiculous, Rob. We wear silly-looking clothes and balance on moving gyroscopes. Speaking of which, hand me those socks, Rob. No, the ones with the fish on them."
He handed me the socks and continued reading from his notes. "It doesn't matter. Fat people are helpless, they cannot lose weight."
"I have, and I am continuing to do so. Really, Rob, are you reduced to poaching material from NAAFA? I expected more originality from you. Screwtape must be rolling over in his - whatever."
Beads of sweat appeared on Rob's forehead. He loosened his tie. "The weight comes back eventually. You never lose it."
"OK, Robbie, let me play devil's advocate here and agree with you-"
"Shut up and let me finish. Even if I woke up tomorrow and all the weight was back, I would have had the benefits of weighing less for the length of time I weighed less. Also, I have both the knowledge of how to lose weight and the confidence that if I did it once, I can do it again. Now Robbie, quit wasting my time. Devil, you and the recumbent you rode in on be gone!"
In a flash Rob and his bike were gone, and a few minutes later I was riding.
Rob appears riding along side me. "You look very pitiful and weak bicyclist. Why do you bother riding up this hill when you would walk it faster? Just give up, some people were just not meant to be athletic."
I struggle to keep momentum up the hill. Sweat pours down my forehead into my eyes and off my nose. I finally can go no further as my legs burn with the effort. Stopping the bike, I swing my leg over and begin to push. Never a word do I say to Rob as I stare straight ahead.
"You see," began Rob,"there is no point in what you are doing. You are fat, slow, and incapable of riding that bike. Just let me take you right to work with nary an effort."
I reach the summit of the hill and a smile reaches my face. "You know Rob, there is no need to send me to work. I have this long downhill to recover and another uphill to climb. Even though I walk up these hills today, some tomorrow I will ride them. It is the joy of it and nothing else.
Rob started to look irritated. "You never enjoyed this before, how could you now? Remember all of the good times we had on the couch in front of the television. I so very much love that television. And remember the food that never ended. You would get so full and sleep so long. Don't you miss that life? Wasn't that life joy?
The speed increases as I coast down the hill. The cool air breezes past my face chilling the sweat in my hair. "I will make you a deal Rob, as you are not the Devil. You can watch my t.v. if you enjoy it so much. I have life to live. You see Rob, I feel my heart racing and the blood pulsing through my body. The joy of reality are splayed before me and I am taking the time to see it. Why would I want to go back to watch TV, a world that is not true?"
Rob thought for a minute or two as the next uphill quickly approached. "To heck with you, I see that it is time for the Simpsons rerun marathon. You do what you want, I will take you up on your offer. When you return all sore and pitiful we can talk again. I will make sure that the refrigerator is stocked with the foods you love. Peanut butter and Ice Cream, or would you prefer spaghetti and pizza? The choice will be yours.
And with that Rob was gone. I will see him again I am sure.
Oh man Neil, I was right there with you last night. Of course on my way home I'm enjoying the "short way", having put in 12 miles that day already and not enjoying the 93 degree heat. So I'm turning onto the 5% downhill (in the afternoons it's down, in the mornings it's torture, err, uphill) that is my street and I feel a wobble. I look down and notice my rear wheel is wobbling and start to grumble. Instead of blasting down the hill above 30mph, I ride the brakes at 15. Pull into the driveway, get off to inspect the spokes and...
Oh man did cursing ensue. The "bombproof" handbuilt rear wheel had a busted spoke, again right on the hub on the non-drive side. I yelled loud enough that I bet you could have heard me in PA. So I quickly showered, changed, and headed to the store as I told the better half I would. When I arrived back home - in the pickup - they were also home. The LBS, already having gone out of their way on this bike, were reluctant to inform me that they'd have to charge me full price to replace it, and it wouldn't be done for several days. I had a good hour or so to seethe about it until the family got home.
After dinner, still seething, I took it to a different LBS that is MUCH closer than the one I bought it at. The devil was there, in full force, as I shamefully asked them to replace the spoke. On the bombproof rhyno-lite, handbuilt with 14 guage DT spokes. The devil was in the back of my head reminding me that this broke for no other reason than I'm a big fat guy trying to ride a bike.. what the hell am I thinking!?
And of course I seethe the whole way home, knowing I'm without my zing-bike for several days because... I'm fat! I get home and the better half is being supportive, saying I need to just get a better bike, and why did it happen, etc. Of course that's when I stomp off, grumpy as all get out, and go find the pack of cigarettes leftover from a gathering we had several weeks ago.
So I'm sitting on the back porch, and I'm ready to give all of it up. I mean, what is a fat guy like me doing on a bike that he constantly breaks? Why do I deal with the constant knee/leg/back pain? Giving up would get rid of all that, and I could sell the bikes pretty easily - the devil tells me. I mean, I don't want to keep spending $20 a month replacing spokes at the LBS, and don't want to deal with "the look" that comes along with it. Even if the look only exists in my mind, it's still there the devil tells me!
I go back inside and I'm ready to give it all up. I'm ready to throw the damn things in the trash and just call it good. One of my riding buddies was on AOL IM so we begin talking, and he reminds me that he has a VERY nice truing with a spoke tensioner. So I start to calm down. The devil is still yelling "but you're fat! what are you doing on something that you keep breaking!" but I start ignoring him. I resolve to go pick the Zing up from the LBS today, and go over to riding buddy's tonight to learn how to replace the spoke myself, and true the wheel myself.
I mellow out, and talk to the better half, who is obviously concerned at this point as I've been a grump all night. She doesn't care, and supports everything I do - as long as I keep riding! So I figure, what the hell, I'll keep replacing spokes. I'll keep replacing spokes, wheels, tires, and even whole bikes because this is what I do, and this is what I love.
Spokes will break, but no devil, you won't break my resolve. Although you came pretty damned close last night.
I've met Rob lately.....almost had me on his side, but I plan to dispatch him some real soon. The date you ask, Wednesday, June 27, surgery starts at 8:00 am. :p
Good luck with the surgery, Brian! I'm sure that'll send Rob packing for good :D
Yep, good luck man.
Great stories I think we have all been there at times. Good luck with the surgury Brian
Rob has a real nice looking sister too. She hangs at my place sometimes.
Appreciate it. I am so ready.
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