My Previous Life
If i believed in previous lives. I think I have found my previous life. Yet as it stands i don’t, so all of this is nothing more that a ramble of sorts.
Constante Girardengo (1893-1978)
I would have raced a steel frame across more finish lines than there are borders.
I would have been a racer that men and boys lifted mugs of beer to in pubs.
When Hemingway was at the velodrome, his teeth would have been clenched watching me.
I would have ridden like the wind across rough wood tracks.
My legs would have been strong. My lungs would have been deep.
I would have amazed.
Tonight, i put some track drop bars on my bike. Down Linda Vista Blvd I raced. My head tucked low, and my knees in near perfect vertical form. The pavement hissed by me and the street lamps thumped as i passed them. For a moment I was Constante.
I ride a 1987 Peugeot Bordeux. A bike i have had for many years. She has only recently been reborn as a track bike. Her back-end been re-aligned to tuck the rear wheel in close, the clunky 10-speeds removed, the brakes traded for a track wheel and and signs that there were at one time cables on this bike have been surgically removed.
Velodrome racing has been lost to technology, like most great sports. Those who know me, know that sports is not a topic that i talk about ever. But deep within me is a love for the days of Girardengo racing. The bicycle is noblest invention. An invention that should resist the attack of the “newer and better” mentality. Two triangles and two circles.
There is beauty in the bicycle. I have always love riding bikes, but not until i stripped away all the modern clutter, did i realize how beautiful this machine truly is. How beautiful it is to sit in the saddle and have your feet rest of the teeth of the pedals, your hands in the soft curve of the handle bars. The rushing wind on your face, the silent glide of the wheel.
Why do we think we can complicate simplicity and in doing so, improve on it? Is there a point where the machinery we make will only make us idlers? Is there a point where we no longer build, but we allow the machines to build us?
I say all of this typing away at a laptop, and creating a blog on the Internet – some forum for questioning technology. But I’m concerned. I’m concerned that technology is leading to more than the death of velodrome racing – but it is in fact leading us to the death of beauty. Even my simple track bike is technology, but i think the key is using only as much as is necessary. For me – two triangles and two circles is beauty.