The first trip of the new quarter was another road trip – by its end, I had spent far more time on the highway in the past six weeks than on airplanes, something that has never happened! Early on Friday, July 8, after tossing and turning overnight in anticipation, I drove south to Austin to pick up a new bicycle. Not just any bike, but the nicest bike I’ve ever owned (we got a way-bigger-than-expected tax refund, money falling from the sky, or at least the IRS!) . You know that I’m not an extravagant person, but cycling is something I really enjoy, and have ever since several friends all bought road bikes in June 1964. As I have commented before, 47 summers ago the range of those bikes gave us freedom and a new perspective on mobility that in turn fueled my interest in travel. And at my age you never know when you might take a dirt nap, so why not?
The morning trip, mostly on Interstate 35, was uncharacteristically smooth; normally, that road is choked with traffic, and lots of trucks.
Drove across the south end of downtown Austin, then south on Lamar Blvd. for lunch at Sazón with longtime friend and former AA colleague John Morton. We had a good yak and a huge lunch with guacamole then simmered pork in a style from southern Mexico. So good. At one, I motored north on Lamar to Castle Hill Cycles and met Jerry Gerlich, an affable and really capable bike fitter. We spent more than an hour getting the fit just right on the Pinarello FP3. I got to know Jerry a bit, former rock-band drummer, B.S. in Kinesiology from U.T. Jerry knew more about cyclists’ bodies than anyone, and he got the fit just perfect. He snapped pictures of me riding, measured all kinds of stuff, and fixed me up. I paid the balance, gently placed the bike on the back-seat floor, and started north.
The northbound Interstate was back to its normal self, busy, trucks, some crazy drivers, but I was so pumped that I just went with the flow, and pulled into the garage at 7:06. Additional consolation: the Toyota hybrid averaged 46.4 mpg (5.07 liters/100km), the best mileage I’ve ever gotten on the highway. It is one green car.
I sorta wanted to take the bike out for a spin, but MacKenzie needed a good long walk. Then it was getting dark, and I was asleep by 9:30. Up at 5:20, and out the door, not to ride but to build a 24-foot wheelchair ramp for Arthur, a nice young fellow in the Oak Cliff neighborhood.
So it was one o’clock and 94º by the time I clipped into the pedals of the new bike, which I’ve nicknamed il razzo rosso (Italian for “the red rocket”). Hot, but it didn’t matter. I was totally pumped, and cranked out 20 miles really fast. It was a ride for Arthur – sometimes when I’m building a ramp, especially for a younger client, I think about the experiences we sometimes take for granted, like riding a bike. So while I was cranking out the miles, I thought about Arthur, and was reminded to celebrate being physically able. A great gift.
The bike was just sensational. The carbon frame only weighs about 2.5 pounds, but the ride was both smooth and solid. The Italians know how to make a great bike (it’s pretty much a Made in Italy machine, with drive train and brakes from the longtime quality maker Campagnolo). I’ve never had such a sweet bike. Grazie!