Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cyclo Christmas Hand-Me-Down Style

He’s ridden over 4000 miles and doesn’t own a pair of bike shorts.  Up until Friday he’s been riding in long black thermal tights (see photo).  It was near 90 when I unloaded the cycling care package on my brother Friday afternoon on our visit to see family in Milwaukee.  He said it wasn’t too bad riding a Wisconsin summer in tights, “You get a nice sweat going, like a wrestler in training.”  I choked back my scoff at his naivety and Midwestern practicality.  He’s got kids.  Even with a solid corporate banking job, I suspect there’s some sort of crazy rationalization between spending $40 on bike shorts and his children eating dinner.

That's my brother.  That looks like a booger.
Riding in tights is probably one of the reasons my brother dropped the beer belly and is down to 150 pounds since he started riding last year, that and the fact that he’s oblivious to the weight of bike accessories.  Attached to his bike is a headlight and battery, a steel attachment for a kiddie trailer, a heavy duty rear rack and saddle bag that feels so heavy I unzip it to make sure it’s not hiding an Easter ham.  It’s not, but there’s enough tools in there rebuild Milwaukee’s Northern Suburbs should a tornado strike while riding.  I tell him we won’t need the lights for our ride.

4000+ Miles on Marin and Conti Race Kings
The wired bike computer on his Marin 29er crested over 4000 miles in the past 14 months.  He looks great, but being only my 2nd time seeing him since he took up cycling, I’m still not used to him looking as thin as me.  I can feel the brotherly competition between our mileage and weight brewing.  His Conti Race King tires are balding.  His jawline is as sharp as a granite cornerstone.  From his tightly cinched belt, he still hasn’t comes to grips that he can wear 32 inch jeans and Banana Republic size small fitted tee shirts.  Either that, or he thinks his kids will have to skip dinner if he buys a good looking $14 T-shirt that fits.  I figured 4000 miles of riding a 30 pound 29er in tights for more than a year proved a commitment to the sport worthy of some hand me downs from me, the older brother.

Ohio's Serpent Mound
I pulled out a plastic Kroger grocery bag and whumped it on my mother’s kitchen counter.  His eyes lit up.  “Bibs!  Bro!  No way!”  He had no idea the Cyclo-Christmas I was about to drop on him.  It wasn’t only bibs.  It was two complete matching dark blue BioWheels team kits: bibs, jersey and a new-old pair of gloves.  I explained the design wasn’t a sperm, but a depiction on Ohio’s famous Serpent Mound.  He read the sponsor logos on the jersey pockets.  I hadn’t worn the shorts in nearly 2 years.  The stitching was frayed on one pair and the padded chamois on the other had lost a bit of loft, but to him they were his new bike shorts. 

Me and my Teammate/Brother Mike
Then I pulled out the second bag, a third…and, a fourth.  As big as 52 tooth sprockets his eyes widened nearly eeking out a tear.  “Arm warmers!?”  He questioned.  I had to explain how they worked.  The chuckle was worth the price of all the free bike goodies right there.  Bag #2 featured 2 complete yellow and blue kits with arm warmers, matching socks and gloves.  Bag #3 featured an even earlier vintage in pretty good condition.  I started to feel guilty for having all this still useable cycling gear sit in my closet so long.  Bag #4 featured odds and ends like a yellow and green 8 year old Verge thermal vest, a lighter wind vest, a set of Pearl Izumi shoe covers with a slightly broken zipper and a pair of Smith sunglasses with 3 different interchangeable lenses.  He grabbed the blue kit and slipped into the bathroom.

“Yeah!!!”  The kitchen erupted in cheers from my wife, my mother and me.  He looked sharp, like one of the guys on the team albeit a bit hairier.  Now I found a tear tickling the corner of my eye.  I’ve been racing bikes since the mid 90’s, and for the first time I was about to paceline with my brother.  We threw our legs over our bikes and put in a solid 40 miles, my wife and I and our new teammate…Mike.


Anonymous said...

Great post, and I am sure Mike is totally psyched and grateful. Now, bag #5 needs to contain - one of your old road bikes!

dean schmiedel said...

nice joe....nice