My French mistress

18 04 2011

I am in love.

And with my wife’s blessing, I have begun an affair with a mistress called Lapierre.

We consummated our relationship on Monday, a languid union along the river on a cool, breezy evening.

Early in our first time together, we had to pause for a photograph. I am still waiting for a white saddle to complete my Lapierre.

But our flirtations began many months ago, when I first spied her in photographs online from the Eurobike trade show. The subtle arc of her top tube and curved arch of the rear brake bridge enticed me. The twist of her chain stays and swooping line of her front fork stirred me.

The Lapierres subtle curves and shapes enticed me from the get-go.

When I saw her perform in the pro peloton, her lithe lines cut a striking figure, more often at the front of the pack than not.

I loved her colors, black and white with touches of red and blue – flashy but not garish.

I loved her Frenchness.

The racing chicken on the chain stay doesnt make me faster, but it does make me smile.

In the months that followed, as my bank account recovered from our pilgrimage to the cobbled climbs of Flanders, I’ll admit, I played the field. If I was to go down this road, I had certain requirements that had to be met: My new mistress had to have a bit of a pedigree; she had to look good with a shiny coat, but she also had to be able to perform, if you know what I mean; she had to have some cachet that would speak to my passion.

In other words, this affair couldn’t just happen; it would take some effort.

There were some pretty Treks to be had, but they’re everywhere like wannabes at cheerleader tryouts. Cervelos are like trophy wives; nice to look at but lacking soul. Williers had some Italian fire, but the online buzz said their love could be fleeting. Scott and Felt caught my fancy briefly, but their lack of commitment to the pro peloton and tendency to chunk up at the bottom bracket turned me off. Look’s beauty was too quirky, and Pinarello’s oddly lumpy stays and fork seemed to take away from its classic beauty. Although I do like those Team Sky and Moviestar liveries.

Ridley was too coy, Giant too plain. The Orbea Orca too rich for my budget. The stylish BH and Cube too elusive. The sharp, angular physique of BMC, with its efficient girder-like tubes, had some appeal, but when we went on a date, she left me feeling ambivalent.

Through it all, the Lapierre kept drawing my gaze. I sought out photos of her in action. Read everything I could find, which wasn’t much. Apparently she likes to keep a low profile.

And winning her over wouldn’t be easy.

There aren’t many places in Canada where Lapierre hangs out; the closest more than three hours away. And she didn’t come cheap.

There were times I’d never thought we’d get together, that Lapierre would stay forever just out of my reach.

But when the stars aligned and the budget seemed to make sense, we made contact.

For three weeks she waited in her box, enshrouded in protective bubble wrap, awaiting the bits that would give her life. These bits had to be special without breaking the bank.

The SRAM Red brifters were a bit of an indulgence. But the Lapierre is worthy.

For the past three bikes I had been loyal to Shimano, but its utilitarian greyness didn’t seem worthy of the shiny elegance of Lapierre. She would have SRAM, the new designer on the block with a growing reputation for style and functionality. Her other baubles would have to be carbon, also from Easton to match her sexy fork.

When all the bits arrived at my bike shop, Jubilee, they measured and sized Lapierre so we’d make a perfect match. They cooed excitedly when they saw her sleek sexiness. They stayed late to put her together, and I was able to bring her home the next day.

No more tangle of cables to entrap my hands in the cockpit.

And there she sat for more than 48 hours as I attended to other duties, like work.

But on Monday, after a hurried dinner and quick change of clothes, we headed out together. Her litheness was immediately apparent, but her smoothness startled me; Lapierre glided over bumps in the road like they were soft butter. She responded alertly to my every touch, to every guiding lean of my body. She was quiet, no creaks, rattles or groans to detract from her supple beauty.

So thrilled was I by our consummation, I waved at everyone who happened by, hardcore roadies to commuting Freds. My grin was my safety reflector.

This is the beginning of a torrid relationship…