Vanity, Thy Name is Merry*Death

6:13 AM

One thing you learn very quickly in the world of cycling is that this is a sport for gear heads and design freaks.  I am sure it is inevitable, as we participate in an activity that involves the use of contraption made up of dozens of simple machines (Gears! Pulleys!) all required to work in a syncopated smoothness for maximum performance.  Right from day one – just look at those early velocipedes – you knew it wasn’t just about function, but also creating a thing of beauty.


I’ve always felt blissfully, and even a bit smugly, immune to this.  Before we purchased our first road bikes we did a significant amount of research, finding out way too much information on group sets, weight vs. cost, and the pros and cons of aluminum vs. steel vs. carbon.  My first road bike (the Fuji Roubaix) was a typical Merry*Death buy: a brand that wasn’t very flashy or desired, so I could get more bang (nearly full Ultegra group, carbon stays, etc.) for my buck.  When I showed up for team rides I didn’t even feel a twinge of jealousy over the lighter, faster, and more expensive bikes around me – I am, after all, frugal.

With my second and third bike, I picked up the design bug.  My cross and mountain bikes are both steel, and I just love the look of the tubing because it stands in direct contrast to the blown-out, peacock-like, carbon fiber bikes out there.  I’ve discovered a small, but dedicated (no, not fanatical) group of cyclists who love steel – we are identified by our way of quietly approaching at a race and muttering, “Nice bike…” as a sort-of introduction.  We don’t need the coolest, newest component on the block; bandwagons are meant to be mocked, not jumped on.

About a month ago I got my mountain bike back from the shop with several upgrades.  It all started with the need for a new fork (key word: need), as my old fork was on borrowed time.  The new fork necessitated a disc brake, and it could have ended there.  But.  Well, then I would have a mullet bike, and I just didn’t want my baby to be so trashy and mismatched.  So a disc brake set was ordered, along with disc-ready wheels.  It was then that I entered the phase of denial in regards to my gear-headedness.  See, I was getting something I needed (kind-of), and disc breaks are so much safer than V (even though my Vs never gave me any trouble), so I can’t be a gear head…

I know have to officially admit I am both a gear head and a design freak.  Though I haven’t been able to bust out the mountain bike this spring (our trails are controlled by a well-meaning mafia that will close them at the first sign of precipitation, and won’t open them until all the soil has dried out), as it is hanging there in the basement I’ve come to accept that I’m not done with my improvements. 

See, my mountain bike is white, or at least I thought my mountain bike was white.  When my 9-year-old bike came back from the shop with a new white fork on it, I realized my mountain bike is more dirty-coffee-stained-teeth white.  But it’s ok, right?  I’m cool, sure, because it is all about the look of steel, and everything else is just distraction, right?  Right?

I guess not, as I am now checking out paint samples and working out the details to give my bike a shiny new coat of paint.  I admit it, I want it to look cool.  Maybe a nice cherry bomb red?  Or a brilliant azure blue?  Or maybe something crazy and modern like bubblegum pink?  Or…

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