What has become of me? Jan27

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What has become of me?

Last month I randomly purchased a carbon fiber bicycle. I know, crazy right? I wasn’t really in the market for any sort of new bike, but I ended up borrowing this one from a friend and loving it. It fit perfectly and just felt right. So when she mentioned that she was selling it, I threw caution to the wind, and with the help of some student loan money, spent beyond my means.

I do not consider myself a bicycle connoisseur at all. People are always talking about how different steel bikes feel from aluminum ones, how some wheels are flexy and others are stiff, how the rake of a fork determines their cornering ability. I seriously cannot tell the difference between these things. I can tell when I’m riding a mountain bike versus a road bike, or that one bike is lighter than another (but usually only when I’m picking up two different bikes, one after the other). But once I’m riding, they all feel the same.

I can, however, tell that this new bike is made of carbon, the material-of-the-future. It seems to be made of gray, silver, and black threads, woven together by a robot on a computer loom to form some kind of miracle substance. A near-weightless material that I have heard it described as “snappy”…and that adjective now completely makes sense to me. It feels like I’m riding on a hard, bicycle-shaped cloud. A snappy, expensive cloud.

I bought the bike complete, except for one tire. (The rear wheel/tire that had been on it went with my friend’s other bike, so she gave me the rear wheel tire-less). But, as luck would have it, a friend who works a bike shop gave me a set of brand new bright yellow tires that he’d somehow acquired. I was stoked, but after putting them on I realized that now this bike was officially flashy.

The next day, pockets bulging with Pell and Oregon Opportunity Grant money, I decided to go shopping at Goodwill. There, in my favorite section, Activewear, I found a cool, light cycling jacket on sale for $4! It was an Easter-baby-blue color with iridescent reflective strips running down the arms. Not exactly my style, but it was only $4 and had that nice zipper pocket in the back, so of course I bought it.

The day after that I decided that it was time to take the new bike out on its maiden voyage. I spanded up, donned my new jacket and headed downtown to meet some friends for a ride.  After crossing the Broadway Bridge a heard someone call my name as my friend Zak pulled up next to me with his friend.

Zak and I used to be bike messengers together. Now we both wear spandex pretty regularly, but bond over having a different kind of cycling background. He lives in a punk house and often sports a floppy mohawk.

He was quick to tease me about my new style and a question suddenly hit me: Am I a “roadie” now?

Honestly, I’m not sure exactly what that word means. I hear it used by cyclists the way “hipster” is used by cool young people. Essentially it seems to be a derogatory way to describe those of your peers who aren’t your friends yet. Or something. For the most part I just don’t get it.

That morning, in my bright, reflective, light-colored, ultra-visible jacket and my very new technology-based bike I felt like I should be going to meet up with all those old dudes you always see riding on the weekends. We could admire each others’ neon outfits, synchronize out cycling computers, and bitch about our mortgages…or whatever those guys talk about.

But then I got to the coffee shop where I was meeting my friends and got over it. We’re all wearing funny lyrca outfits and doing outdoor exercise (even though snowflakes had started to fall) together. We’re all total nerds.

That doesn’t mean I’m not still punk.