Thursday, November 24, 2005

Does a bike have a soul?

I must confess, I'm a Loo-Worm (someone who enjoys a good read in the WC). There's nothing more satisfying than doing "business" in a "private" space with "limited gross product" in the "company" of good viewing material! (do I hear an "ewww" somewhere out there)....

I've also learnt from an early age that NO ONE can force you to do housework, so long as you're legitimately engaged in the private sanctuary! heh heh...

So, what's the read of the day? Ikea 2005 Catalogue? Nah, gone through that a gazillion times! Time magazine? Not in the mood. What's this? Front cover : photo of a strange lookin' man with hexagonal-shaped glasses and a distinct goatie. A bubble pops from his head that reads "FISH". Upon taking a closer look, "'s the 2006 Gary Fisher Catalog....and this dude must be Gary Fisher, the designer of those groovy looking' bikes, a who's who in the mountain biking world!"

My mind wanders off to my first bike shopping experience, with Ricky. I glanced at a silver and yellow aluminium Gary Fisher! It was love at first sight! Look at colours....and that merman on a bike motif is a real classic! Evidently, colour and picture motifs were the 2 essential criteria to a lady's heart I have come to least for a lady's first time bike purchase!

Ricky yanked me aside, "No, no, no! That model's a lower-end beginner's bike! You should be looking at good components, parts. Feel the comfort. Make sure it fits! Now, look at that Specialized Rockhopper. Full XT / XTR parts, right sized frame. Fits you perfectly! And good value for money."

"'s a dull blue!" There were no buts.

"Sweetlips" became an item in my household and has served me well....til Firefly swept me off my feet. Making sure Sweetlips wasn't neglected, I passed her onto Ping the Space Cadet.

Firefly, a Trek 8500 (see bike on left), was a present from Maximuzz. Red wasn't my colour either, but this hardtail grew on me like a pair of external legs, and I can't imagine giving her up for another bike. And my hunger for better bike parts just about stopped right there! The only times I've had to think of upgrades was when Firefly was injured and needed parts replaced. But otherwise, I was content, coz a bike to me was just a means to an end - riding on trails! That explains why my knowledge of the latest bike models and bike parts was so poor, because it was something that didn't interest me.

Now, back to the loo. I stared into Gary's eyes (errr...glasses) and exclaimed, "I'm quite happy with my Firefly, thank you very much" and flipped to page 2 to see what he had to say about that.

"Does a bike have a soul? By Gary Fisher

I don’t think bikes are sacred. But I know biking is.

Maybe this sounds like sacrilege coming from a bike guy. But you’ve gotta remember, bikes to me are just a means to an end. I spent 1974 ripping apart cruisers because I thought it would be fun to propel myself and my friends down mountains. It was fun, too, but many a bike met a strange and gruesome fate in the process.

Stuff, in and of itself, just doesn’t mean much to me. Bikes included. Really, what are they? Metal and rubber? Joints and lubes? Come on. That thing is just one small ingredient in the big, big recipe called riding. It’s almost a question of priorities; if you’re too madly in love with a bike, maybe you’re losing track of what really matters.

If I got my hands on Jimi Hendrix’s guitar, you know what I’d do? Play it. Lick it. Sleep with it. Try to ride whatever wave Jimi left in it, or at least get it to tell me some secrets. Maybe I’d even set it on fire, just like he did.

Which gets me to my point. There’s one way for a bike to have a soul. The rider has to put it there.

If I put my soul in Gary Fisher bikes, there wouldn’t be room for yours.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: The best bike is one that disappears when you ride it. I live for the moments when the bike just blots itself out, and every little element is singing the same note - me, the bike, the trail, the sky, the dirt. Yes, yes, yes.

Maybe what I’m trying to say is this: ride more.

Get on a bike. Fall off a bike.
Leave something of yourself in it.

Does a bike have a soul? Only if you do."

Gary, where have you been all my life? You are MY BIKE GURU!!! Reading that one-pager summarises my philosophy on biking! I googled "Gary Fisher" and found out that he was the man responsible for the creation and evolution of mountain biking. An inventor and innovator, he created the mountain bike in 1974 and continues to make technical breakthroughs today! A little bitta trivia : he used to do lighting for Grateful Dead shows! Ok, you probably already know that, but what a revelation!!!

The last 3 sentences kept ringing in my head.

1. Get on a bike.
2. Fall off a bike.
3. Leave something of yourself in it.

I can say Firefly and I have been through thick and thin. My worse bike fall was succinctly summarised pictorially below by Mingloid, an eye witness. There were many versions of my face plant story, but I like this one best.

Does Firely have a soul? Do I have a soul? I'd like to think this incident is the answer to the question. But, I still wouldn't trade Firefly for another bike....unless it was a Gary Fisher! :)

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