before the ride pt.1

Two weeks ago I had been searching for a bike for weeks. I own a mountain bike, a hand-me-down from Nicole, but I wasn't going to commit suicide by trying to ride one 100 miles. If you don't think you'd feel a difference, you've never ridden a road bike. So I went back and forth nearly every day between buying the used road bikes that show up on craigslist and fixing up the 1970 vintage French road bike that Carol had pulled off Alan's shop wall (where it had hung since 1980?) and lovingly wiped dust-free.

First stop was City Bikes in Adams Morgan with the classic. What did I need to ride this thing 100 miles 10 days from now? The shaved headed tech took one look at it and said that "this isn't the bike you want to be sinking money into." He noted the aging components and several badly chosen past repairs that would stop him from even doing a tune up.

Hm.. tough to tell Carol that I wasn't going to use Alan's bike after all that work, but I supposed I wanted a bike anyway and this was the excuse to buy one. So I started answering craigslist postings and squinting at tiny terrible photos. I ended up at the Lucky Frog.

When I saw the doublewide crouching in the edge of the dark parking lot I worried I might be going to meet a fence. But my encounter was to be with another sort of creature that shuns the light of day.

The Lucky Frog is a role-playing game cards store slowly becoming a bike shop. Under the buzzing fluorescents, between walls of D&D boxed sets and dusty display cases of Magic The Gathering (tm) cards is growing a motley collection of mountain bikes and the few road bikes that I had come to see. Dan the jovial owner and I took turns getting in the way of the dragon t-shirted regulars that were wandering in and out to kibitz a lustily contested game in the corner. The guys seemed vaguely puzzled with our interest in the bikes, which no doubt were an encroaching threat on their gaming space. Was Dan, smiling and clad in a yellow soccer jersey, a recent turncoat in the ancient and vicious struggle of indoor vs outdoor pastimes? Who got to him? Was it a child, a doctor, a bathroom scale?

Dan fiddled with the seat, adjusted this and that, and I took the object of my affections in dozens of loops around the deserted lot. Finally, reluctantly, I admitted it was too small of a frame for me and we ran out of time. Dan said he would try to fix up that other bike he'd just gotten in for me and I should come back tomorrow.

When I called back the next day, already on the way out in my car, Dan told me that a stripped bolt on the fall-back bike was a custom part that would take a week to order. I couldn't wait that long to train, so the deal was off. I was back to square one.