Thursday, September 1, 2016
"Steel is not cool anymore," the magazine said. It is so last decade, too skinny, straight, and limited. Carbon and titanium are where it's at these days. Dilapidated hipsters, stale retirees, and desperate homeless guys were the only ones riding steel they said. I looked at my 1984 Trek 660 leaning up against the bookshelf and wondered if I was that out of it. It has elegant, road-racer lines, polished alloy hubs, low stacked and long Cinelli stem, Campy cranks, and the hottest at the time Superbe rear derailleur. It's topped off with toe clips on Campy quill pedals. Silver brazing, butted Reynolds tubing, filed lugs. The engineering and metallurgy was like that of jet fighters. The look was like that too. The bike is the same as it was, all original for the model year. The Brooks saddle came later. It's a royal ride imprinted when my mind was hungry for beauty, quality, speed, and -- something ineffable, exotic, sublime -- a taste of something that might endure. This "something" was beyond a mere bicycle; it had to do with longing, aspiration, hope that I might live the life of which I dreamed. It's hard to be in that place: young and a bit naive, a son of a son of a Minnesota dirt farmer, narrow horizons of northern Midwest rural thinking, on the verge of leaving for an adult life beyond the walls of what I knew. The vestige of the longing is still here, 32 years and counting, as beautiful as the day it was born.