I’ve had some time alone the past two weeks. Some of it productive; some of it downright lazy; some of it getting ready for a 5k I’m running in Pittsburgh July 4 with my uncle and cousin; some of it sitting on my balcony like a total loser singing and playing “Not Dark Yet” on my Little Martin. Most relevant, with the little one away I’ve had the rare chance to live without time constraints and do things like hike Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak back to back, bike from Boulder and back to see Rockies games, and bike Lefthand Canyon over and over to prepare for my bike tour through Switzerland next month.
Biking lets me embrace a physical and mental challenge not many people who I’m close with can seem to relate to. Though they support my hobby, I’ve been generally unable to convince friends or family – outside of my work, where nearly everyone happens to be a cycling geek – to share in something like biking from Denver to Boulder or biking Lefthand Canyon. Maybe someday – but anyway even on group rides no one can really do the pedaling for you, do the mental and physical centering for you, or help you come to grips with painful thoughts and memories that might come up as your wheels spin mile after mile. Just as I’ve come to say “Fuck cars; get a bike,” I guess my stance is also “Fuck meditation; go on bike trips.”
Anyway, today – before cycling up to the Jamestown Merc and back – I made a third attempt at buying a touring bike in order to stop hauling my beloved, but heavy, 2013 Kona Splice around the country with loaded panniers. I tried a 2013 Surly Cross Check about six weeks ago and couldn’t deal with the hunched-over position or the way it dragged weight in the back when loaded. I tried a 2013 Marin Four Corners last week and found it slow. Very slow. Today I picked up a 2013 Bianchi Volpe (57cm with a very elevated stem Bicycle Village threw on) and so far am digging it, besides the soft-looking powder-blue color that’s the antithesis of the black, or black and yellow, I’ve gone with when buying bikes since using a single-speed Kona Lanai (built from parts by Box Dog Bikes) to get everywhere in San Francisco for about half the seven years I lived there.
Yes, I’m shallow enough to review the 2013 Volpe (“fox” in Italian) by saying I hate the color. But I do, essentially because it’s not a dark bike. It’s not punk. It’s not tough. It’s powder blue, with a vintage (see: self-conscious) aesthetic that, to me, comes off as cheesy. Gold-bordered white letters on a powder-blue frame? How am I supposed to bike around listening to “Horror Business” or “I’ll Be Your Sister” on this thing? OK, I’ll wrap some black electrical tape or whatever around the lettering and move on. The all-steel Volpe – which has been a staple of the Bianchi brand for many years – seems like a great bike so far, other than some shifting problems a trouble not taking too-wide turns (which is probably the result of the higher stem I had Bicycle Village throw on). The Fox is fast, smooth, sturdy, and a screaming downhill machine. I’ll see how it feels with loaded panniers tomorrow. ..