Sometimes you just have to do things that you just aren't comfortable with, in order to satisfy a greater need. I need to ride bikes.
When I returned to Australia last month for my annual catch-up, I decided not to be burdened with lugging a box around airports and train stations at all hours of the night. After all, my network of friends own between them enough mountain and road steeds to start up their own retail outlets from their garages (and loungerooms in some cases).
Mountain bikes were easy to come by, and while they may have been Mongooses (thanks Mick and Youngy), they provided good times. The road bike choices were even more limited. But after busting a rib in the first week, I needed the low-impact, easy-spin option of the blacktop, and the only thing I could do was something I'm not proud of; I rode a Giant.
But not just any Giant, oh no. I rode 'The (road) Parts'. What the hell am I talking about, I hear you ask.
Years ago Col was looking for a new MTB, and he chose a Giant NRS over a Specialized Epic on the strength of the parts spec, rather than how the bikes rode. It became known as 'The Parts'. Then when he adorned his TCR road bike with full Dura Ace and Ksyriums, the logical moniker for it was obvious. Now Col doesn't like to throw old crap out, hence these two bikes, along with a selection of other museum pieces, still inhabit the mess he calls his garage.
So when I needed a road ride, I had to swallow my pride and ride The (road) Parts. But no more DA on this puppy, Col had seen the light a few years ago and got on board a Tarmac SL (and finally an Epic for the dirt) and some old Ultegra 9 speed was taped to the TCR. Col doesn't attach, bolt or fit things to his bikes, he tapes them, zip-ties them and binds them with bits of string and wool. (What's more, he's a doctor, so god only knows how he fixes his patients.) I was just glad to be riding, even if I was wearing his old shoes (a size too big) and my MTB helmet and gloves.
The pump rattled like a bitch, and after 100 metres I was stopping to look for a flat rear tyre. Col assured me the "thunk, thunk, thunk" was just the big bulging lump of rubber he'd used to repair a cut in the tyre's casing. 50km of "thunk, thunk, thunk" and a rattling pump is one of the methods of torture used in Guantanomo Bay, I'm sure.
But the bike fit me more or less, it was a nice sunny day, I was with a good mate, and all those things helped to erase the shame I momentarily felt. Cheers Col, adios Parts.