Like your car, your house and nearly every other possession you hold dear, your choice of bicycle says a lot about you.
None of your stuff defines you, for certain. But choices are definitely reflective of personality.
Racers, or those who want to be, tend toward flashy, uber-light, skinny-tire bikes that put the rider in what appears to be a sneering position.
Those who bike to work tend toward heavier, more comfortable bikes that place utility over aesthetics. Off-roaders? Well, you’re just a type unto yourselves, aren’t ya?
For whatever it says about me, I ride a Bridgestone 600. It was made in 1985.
* * * * *
Ronald Reagan is president. World maps in schools all over the United States have giant pink blobs representing a unified landmass stretching from Europe to Asia. It is called the “U.S.S.R.”
And there is not one, but two countries named Germany.
At some point right around the time that “New Coke’’ is introduced, my shiny new Bridgestone 600 is rolled to the floor of some bike shop in California. It starts its life in an unfortunate light blue color, reminiscent of cotton candy.
About that same time, I am graduating from high school. I have the world on its knees. I know simply everything, mainly because I read it in the liner notes of a Dead Kennedys album. I am wickedly smart, as evidenced by my subscriptions to highbrow political magazines you’ve never heard of.
I am thoroughly invincible. And I am not just convinced of my own righteousness, I am also quite enamored with it. I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t be, too.
I am an insufferable little snot.
But there is something curiously admirable about unflinching, but yet-untested arrogance in the face of life, big and unyielding and steadily gaining speed like an oncoming freight train heading straight into your own hubris.
* * * * *
My Bridgestone is technically a racing bike, or at least that’s what it was billed as when it was first sold. By today’s standards, however, it’s no racing bike. Not by a long shot.
It’s steel, for one thing. And lugged steel at that. It’s no carbon-fiber lightweight or aluminum rocket, but for a steel bike, it’s no boat anchor, either. Moves along pretty nice, actually.
It cost me $400. By bike standards, a pittance. I frankly paid nearly as much for my eldest daughter’s single-speed beach cruiser.
It’s gray and has no logos whatever. It is about as nondescript as a bike can be.
But it’s beautiful in its simplicity, my Bridgestone. It’s defined, I suppose, by what you don’t see, more than what you do.
You don’t see flash. You don’t see huge, screaming logos. You are not going to be wowed by the paintjob.
You will see a bike, and not much more. It is unassuming. If it were a person, you might describe my bike as humble.
It does its job, and doesn’t call attention to itself. I’m pretty okay with that. I’m no longer invincible. I no longer know everything.
I may still be insufferable, but it’s for different reasons.
* * * * *
I knew my Bridgestone was going to be my bike the first time I sat on it. It fits me perfectly. It is sometimes nice to be reminded of the Keith that was in 1985 when I’m riding. He’s a nice place to visit. I wouldn’t want to live there, but a short stay is good for the soul.
And if you listen closely enough when I ride by, you can almost hear Duran Duran playing in the background.