Valley Lodge – Go

I have a number (4) of old bikes and I will not part with any of them. Unfortunately, I don’t really have a good place to store them so they’re mostly sitting in our basement, which is far from an ideal solution. About a month ago I decided to haul one of them out of there and bring it out into the light of day to clean it up. I thought that went pretty well so I took it out for a test spin and felt all wobbly and very unsteady. I moved the seat down a tiny bit and that helped a little but it bothered me that I wasn’t able to get right back in the saddle as if 20-odd years hadn’t passed since I was last riding it regularly.


My old red Univega

This bike and I have a lot of history. I got it the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college (coincidentally, the bike it replaced was a five speed version of the green Schwinn being ridden in this video by the guy with the mustache) and during the next three years, we were inseparable. I rode it all over the back roads of the Philadelphia suburbs in college. I rode it in two team triathlons, both times being the only female rider. This was the bike I rode when I was a bike messenger in Philadelphia during the summer of 1988.

I’m sure it’s nostalgia, or maybe a mid-life crisis, but I want to get the old red bike back into regular riding condition. I took it out yesterday for only the second time since cleaning it up. I fired up my old biking tape (transferred to my iPod) and headed out. Being out riding again felt great. I decided to swing past the bike shop while I was out because it definitely needs more work still and I wanted to know if it was actually worth it to pursue that before I spend any money on it.

I don’t have bike shorts anymore, I couldn’t find my old (really old, pre-clipless pedal Detto Pietros) biking shoes, so I wasn’t surprised by the amused looks I got when I rolled into the bike shop in my running gear on a 27-year-old bike whose handlebar tape was tied at the end to keep it from unraveling more. I told them I was thinking about maybe putting a different style of handlebar on it or something because it really wasn’t all that comfortable but maybe it actually isn’t the right size for me, or it’s not worth it because it’s too old, etc. A young guy working behind the counter came forward and said maybe it just needed to be adjusted a little and why didn’t I bring it outside and ride around in the parking lot so he could see how it fit me.

Maybe he was just humoring me but he seemed to think my bike was charmingly old school, not just old. He thought the cloth handlebar tape was really cool. He did describe my old toe clips as death pedals and he thought the tires probably need to be replaced. He suggested lifting the handlebars up a tiny bit and tilting them slightly to take the pressure off my wrists. While he did that he wrapped the cloth around the handlebars again and put caps on the end and sealed it with tape. He inched the saddle back up, added air to the tires and had me ride around again. It did feel better. It felt springy and like it really appreciated having someone treat it right. The young guy waved me off to enjoy my ride home, which I did.

I was trying to come up with the right song for this entry and something said to me, try Valley Lodge. I recently went to a reading and book signing by Dave Hill (he’s the guy in the biking cap, I have a really great one of those too from 1987) but he didn’t mention that they’d made a video for a song off their new album Use Your Weapons, riding old bikes and old school cycling gear. It’s the perfect video for this. I highly recommend his book Tasteful Nudes too.