Monday, 9 September 2013

isn't it ironic, or something...

I saw him riding towards me through the uptown traffic. Silent, he ghosted past the cars on their right, squeezing through gaps no cyclist with a wish to live would squeeze. With a wobble, he slowed, one hand on his one brake lever, peaked cap back at a jaunty angle, long bushy beard sculpted to a point mid-chest jutting proudly forward.
Suddenly, a left turn from the right lane. He becomes a pedestrian on wheels, showing off his home made fixie, chain tensioner and drive train painted bright yellow, frame rough and black. An old machine, rescued no doubt from his grandparent's shed or a bike store's garbage heap.
But wait! No! A single speed. Not a fixie. What is this coasting I see?
And then I felt it. Felt it for the first real time in my life.
Age creeping up on me.
I thought, what is this? What is this feeling that threatens to overcome me? WHY did it choose to do so now of all times? Rewind and think. What was the trigger. Oh yes. The hipster and his bicycle.
Let's see... Single speed I get. Reusing stuff I get. But, if you are going to do the hipster thing man, do it right! Why only a front brake when you cannot apply back pressure to keep the bike stable when slowing because the rear hub is a freewheel hub? Why handlebars so narrow that they wobble when the brake is applied? Why position the brake lever near the old stem instead of out where the hand would naturally rest for ease of access? I admit it, I am a chicken. I want two brakes, stability, control, and all that old man stuff. That was what did it. Sob. Suddenly, I felt too old to be hairy and ironic. Clean shaven and bitter will have to do.

* * *

There are advantages to the clean shaven and bitter look though. 
I avoid itchy chins, getting my ironostach caught in zippers and buttons, and velcro up less lint. I am allowed to use gears on my bicycle. I can have two brakes that even work! It is permissable to have a bicycle that is younger than my own personal age - my hipster bicycle is the real deal. It is older than the hipsters I see, I rode it when I was young, it is mine, and the wear on it is earned, not bought. The Real Deal (tm).
I can also wear comfortable clothing on the bike. Ever ride in pants that are too tight, ride a bit low, with boxers on? No thanks. That is an experience I would not wish on anyone, even the amusedly ironic.

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