There are times when the days blend together. Whether it occurs because of a great winning streak in a game of Beirut or because of late night ramblings over a midnight snack with a friend at a 24 hour diner that eventually turns into breakfast, anyone with even a hint of a social life will understand this. Even with a couple hours of sleep thrown in, one day can turn into another, the reminder that you mentally crammed 48 hours into 24 only hitting you full force when the headache of sleep deprivation sears through your temples. Too bad when the overpowering desire to curl up on the floor and doze saturates your brain, you’re usually already a drink or two into your next blurred-together day.
Of course, the last time my days blended together, it was due to back to back to back episodes of “To Catch a Predator.” Me, pedophiles, and Chris Hansen. Until 3 a.m. Oh yeah.
And though Chris Hansen’s magnetic creepiness was woefully absent, the past few weeks have blended together, too. Sleeping in until almost noon, trudging through the slushy streets of New York, going to too many bookstores...and before I knew it, 2010 had flowed seamlessly and somewhat unmemorably into 2011.
It wasn't until last Sunday night that it occurred to me that it really was 2011. That night, in a slightly chilly bike shop, with some Victory beer, the help of another Chris [Harris, not Hansen], and some oddly shaped tools, I slowly assembled my very first road bike.
It started with a bottom bracket tapping and facing set; a gigantic metal contrapction that does the frame-prepping equivalent of douching and brazilian bikini waxing. Each tap got inserted so as not to cut through the BB threads, “chasing” them, before the facing cutter was fitted onto the outside edge of the BB, shaving off most of the paint. It hurt a little to do [doesn't waxing anything?], but I managed not to screw it [or my frame] up.
With a hammer, I pressed my first fork crown race, clanging away at the crown race installer. Then, feeling very pro mechanic, pressed my first ever headset into place, perfect and pretty. Okay, that’s not accurate. I only really installed the bottom half of the headset while Chris did the hardest part of aligning the top half. After spacers, bars, and brakes were attached, Chris made me figure out how to install the derailleurs myself [which was totally cool because those are only the exact parts that don't come on a single-speed bike]. I got it, eventually, only to be laughed at when I tried to put on my wheels, tightening them down like they had track nuts on them. Chris had to fix the wheels before helping me wipe down and measure out the chain, installing the brakes, and insisting I wrap one side of my bars. And he took pictures, documenting my embarrasment.
A la "To Catch a Predator," the bike build was a team effort. I was the equivalent of the Internet pedophile that stupidly walks into a TV set [“well...I thought it would make sense to put that...there...is that...wrong?”], while Chris [Harris] pretty much played the part of my other favorite Chris [Hansen] by attempting to reason with me [“do you really think that’s a good idea? You're building your own bike...What did you think was going to happen here tonight?”]. All very much like one of the greatest shows on television, with the exception that when I left the store, I wasn’t tackled by some burly cop screaming at me to get down on the ground.
And at the end of it all, I had a road bike. All I really got to do that night on the bike, was to pedal the length of the store. The saddle was a little lower than it should have been but once I cruised past the display of Chrome bags, that cliched realization, the prefix for those "I told you so"s [or more accurately "I TOLD you--Jesus CHRIST! WHY don't you ever LISTEN?!"s], that this bike was made to measure, hit me. It felt perfect. Not in the pre-fabricated, psychological way born of expectations, but in the physical sensations of a just-right reach, a standover that didn’t feel dangerously questionable, and the tangible fact of how the hoods fit into my hands.
And that’s when I knew. When I ceased to have any question in my mind about this simple fact:
Y’all are going to have a hard time catching this predator.