I remember the first time I rode something I knew I couldn't control.
A black, half-trained filly - back in the days when I was obsessed with real ponies/horses - everything had to be done in reverse. Pulling on the reins made her tuck her head in resolutely and take off. The natural human reaction of leaning forward and squeezing your legs around her in response to the unexpected acceleration just egged her on. She was prone to sprinting out of control and rendering riders into frustrated tears. No one really wanted to ride her.
I was terrified as I was handed the reins. But even with the unhelpful "don't pull on the reins to stop her," it turned out to be a match - for one brief summer - made in heaven. There was a way to slow her down [pull, release, pull, release, give, take, give take], and I learned how to manage to stay on something that clearly had its own agenda [stay calm, lean back, don't freak out]. We got each other...or at least to the point where I wasn't galloping out of control while my classmates watched in horror and pity.
Years later, I found myself test riding a half-built customized bike on hand-built wheels, the thick steerer tube still uncut, brakeless, and on flat pedals. Finally understanding the meaning of the words "stiff," and "responsive," that taste of fear, excitement, and acknowledgment of a lack of an adequate sense of control came flooding back to me. I knew this bike wanted to accelerate, and never stop, and that sort of terrified me.
She's made to go fast, as Erich accurately pointed out. And he would know, as this is almost more his baby than mine. I felt a little strange rolling it out of the shop, back on the street where a few people gave me interested glances. The weirdest thing was that none of those people knew that it was New Bike Day for me, or that I was popping my track bike cherry, or that I felt more than a little guilty walking that bike away from its surrogate home for the past two months.
But most importantly, they don't know how much love has been poured into this bike. And I'm not talking about how much I've been petting the frame. It's the too many late hours Erich's put in, the collective excitement [feigned or otherwise] at IBC when I brought in parts for the bike, Chris's adamant desire to play a part in the build, and Eric constantly telling me how pretty it is. And maybe that's the best reward; building something with a group of people who I consider solid, real friends [and yes, I feel that my "watching" constitutes participation]. I can't thank you guys enough, and I'm going to love her to absolute pieces. It's good to know, too, that she'll always be welcome at 89 Brighton Ave.
And yeah, this is definitely a match made in heaven.
[More pics - like of the drive side - coming soon...]
For the bike nerds:
Frame: Dolan Pre Cursa -- 45cm [on 700cc wheels!] -- customized by Erich at IBC Wheels: Velocity Deep V's laced with DT Swiss Competition double-butted spokes to Miche Primato hubs [double-fixed] -- built by Erich at IBC Bars: Nitto B123 with Champ grips Crankset: Sugino messenger Brake: Dia-Compe "deluxe pearl" Saddle and seatpost: Soma Ensho [glitter white] and Alpina seatpost Pedals: MKS Sylvan [from my old bike; switching to clipless soon] Gearing: 46/17 [because I have hills to climb]