A change in shape (and size… and brand…)


My Grandfather is a very meticulous man.  If he sees something he thinks isn’t right, he will do everything in his power to change it.  This is the case with my bike just about every other year for as long as I’ve been doing this trip. He sees me a couple of months before the trip when we come down to Maryland to see them and train for the trip (though we kind of forgot to pack our bikes this year…).

When we first get on the bike while he is around is the time of judgement. If he sees the tiniest thing wrong with your form that can be caused by your bike, he will start to talk to you about the importance of the right sized bicycle until, somewhere along the way, he decides that he’s going to buy you a new bike.

Sometimes, he doesn’t even tell you.  You’ll just get in the car with him, thinking that you’re going on some errand until you get curious and ask “So where are we going?”  Then, he’ll nonchalantly answer (sorry. Just took the English exam and have vocab words swimming around in my head) “We’re going to get you a new bike.”

While it is somewhat guilt bringing to accept a bicycle that you don’t think you even need, every trip to that little bike shop is magical.  The gear for hardcore bikers sits on the shelves, waiting to be discovered and put to good use.  The mounds of energy bars, which brands and flavors vary from green gatorade “electro-beads” to chocolate chip CLIFF bars. And then there’s the bikes.  Sparkling with novelty, each one with it’s own style and number of different gears.  The reflection from the metallic handlebars is almost blinding, and makes me think about trying on some of the fancy “UVA ray proof” and “light filtering” shades hanging on the rack next to me.  After going up to the front desk and ringing the shiny silver bell, the owner comes out from his workshop and asks what you need.

The testing is meticulous (more vocab) and takes the smallest difference between bikes into account to make sure it’s the right one.  For those who have seen the Harry Potter movies, it’s a bit like that seen in the first one where Harry is trying to chooose his wand.  The smallest thing wrong can make it go horribly wrong.  You may be searching for hours or for just a couple of minutes until you find the right one.  I’m not sure if this is the case for magic wands (mainly because I’ve never used one and I’m pretty sure that you don’t ride a wand) but with bikes, the perfect bike will feel just that: perfect.  It will smoothly glide over the cement in the parking lot.  Your feet won’t be reaching wildly for the pedals but they won’t be scrunched up against the handle bars.  It will feel as if the bike was made for you.


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