Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ode to Pugsley

Today I went to the gym for 90 minutes and felt pretty strong. I didn't push all that hard, but I feel like I have likely surmounted all but the residual annoyances of my cold. Since I don't want the germs to come rushing back to action, I won't particiate in all of the activities I was planning for this weekend. But I do hope to get out into the latest cold snap and its 30-below wind chills to test gear, including my Ghostbuster-worthy hydration system.

Beyond that, it seems being sick and going to the gym isn't very condusive to good posts for my photo/lifestyle/training blog, so I thought today I'd do a blog dump of sorts. I have a picture of downtown Juneau as seen from the Treadwell Ditch trail, taken Jan. 14. I also thought I'd include my latest NPR post. Like many cyclists, I have a bad habit of humanizing my bikes. A while back, I wrote an apology letter to Sugar. Recently, for my NPR blog, I wrote a love letter to Pugsley. I was running on minimal sleep and what was probably the beginning of my contribution to cold and flu season when I penned it. So it's a bit loopy, but it's sincere...

Dear Pugsley,

I'll never forget the first time I laid eyes on you, dangling from the ceiling at the Anchorage REI. An arctic blast of nitrogen-freezing proportions was ripping outside as I browsed the headlamp aisle. That's when I first caught a glimpse of your well-endowed wheels. I felt like a Valley girl in a bad '90s rap video ... "Oh, my, god. Becky, look at his butt. It is so big." You looked like one of those fixie guys' Frankenbikes. But, you know, who understands those fixie guys, anyway?

You moved on to other things. So did I. I was new on the winter bike scene, and convinced that studs were more my type. Those carbide-pierced tires were so punk rock, and I was thrilled by the way they gripped onto ice and never let go. But when the snow really started to settle in the relationship, the studs just bogged down like a pothead with a Nintendo. I came to realize that studs and I had no real future.

The next winter, I went looking for something a little more willing to commit. That's when I found SnowCats, the wide rims that fit on a regular bike. I outfitted them with semi-wide tires and together we hit the snow, finding more float and more opportunities than before. But there was still something missing in my life, a certain longing that was just out of reach.

The final blow came as I was pushing my SnowCats over a loose, narrow trail, and watched in wonder as a cyclist passed me, riding. His bike was equipped with the same wide tires I had seen at REI that fateful winter day. The tires of Pugsley. The next day, I told the SnowCats we had to talk.

I'll admit I had my doubts, Pugsley. In a sport that cherishes sleek and thin, you were excessive and obese. You wore the purple remnants of somebody's bad '90s ecstasy trip, and even when they finally painted you gray, I could still see your skewed fork and crooked frame and offset rims — purposeful deformations just to make room for all that excess fat. But once I finally took the plunge, I was amazed at your strength and grace. You plowed over boulders like they weren't even there, then floated atop sand like you weighed an ounce. When the winter finally came, with our powder-blasting downhill rides and soft trail traverses, I knew it was love.

It's true what they say, Pugsley: Once you've had fat, you can't ever go back.

I like fat bikes and I cannot lie.

So now I just wanted to tell you that I'm so glad we met. We have a long and treacherous trail ahead of us, and I wanted to let you know that I trust you completely. You are my bike. And for better or worse, for faster or slower, in bonking and in health, I know you'll carry me through. I need you, Pugsley. Like I've never needed a bike before.

With love,

Jill