Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fresh Eyes

Because Tamar and I are new to Denver, we look at our adopted home with fresh eyes. For instance, I’ve observed curious customs among local cyclists….

Many, many club cyclists here wear souvenir ride jerseys, not their club’s jersey or plain jerseys or Euro team jerseys. If a guy struggled in (exhausted) in the dark to finish an epic metric century in ’99, he has earned the right to wear the commemorative jersey forever. And he does. As the jersey shrinks and he…uh…does not.

Cyclists here do not often wave to other cyclists, even on lonely roads or bike paths far from populous downtown Denver. The geekier the rider, the bigger the shoulder bag, the more probable it is that he or she will wave. Club riders never wave. They’re far too cool.

Actual racers hesitate, surprised that YOU waved, and then grin and wave back.

Urban commuters on single speeds or fixies lug huge backpacks or messenger bags. Maybe they’re carrying desktop computers back and forth. Or desks.

They wear knickers, cotton cycling caps (no bike helmet laws here) and lace-up shoes. They ride Brooks saddles and even use toeclips, rare items only a few years ago.

You see threadbare, embroidered Euro team-logo jerseys or warm-up sweaters on skinny, intense, unshaven guys smoking like ‘40s film stars at curbside café tables, their old chrome Masi track irons safely locked up nearby.

Late in the last century, I tried to give away an armload of wool cycling clothing; no one wanted it. Too retro, too much hassle. I wonder if wool stuff retains that tobacco smoke smell.

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