The rest of the story

6 07 2011

“You didn’t tell the whole story.”

That was Katie’s reaction after she read my previous blog entry about my transformative trip to the Tour de France eight years ago.

So, in the words of late radio raconteur Paul Harvey, here’s “the rest of the story.”

Since acquiring my first car, a bulbous Toyota Tercel that perched on skinny little tires that looked too small, I have always transported my bikes on a Thule roof rack. They’re functionally stylish, versatile and durable. When my beloved red Acura was totaled by a runaway car that whacked me heavily right behind the driver’s door, my roof rack popped off in one piece and landed about 10 meters away; I installed it just fine on my replacement car.

The day before I was to leave for my epic trip to the centenary Tour, I started breaking down my sleek Cramerotti steel racing bike for packing into a traveling case. That bike had been my first major purchase after landing a full-time job in the West; it was Columbus SLX tubing, chromed forks and stays, kitted out to my specifications with Ultegra components and Campy wheels. It was a classic beauty.

To fit the bike into the case, I had to remove the wheels, handlebar, seat and pedals. Alas, I didn’t have a pedal wrench, so I loaded it onto my roof rack and headed to my bike shop to see if they could do me a solid and help me out. They happily obliged.

Of course anyone who’s traveled to Europe, or anyplace far flung for that matter, knows there’s a ton of little details that need to be sorted before departure. After my stop at the bike shop, I decided to get some of those out of the way and headed to a nearby mall.

I pulled into the lot, keeping an eye out for a parking spot when I heard a sickening crash and thunk above me. I had completely forgotten about my bike on the roof rack! And the lot was guarded by a low arch to discourage delivery trucks.

My heart sank and stomach roiled as I stopped the car and climbed out to survey the damage. It was catastrophic; the front forks were splayed out like a newborn calf trying to get its legs, the top tube was twisted and dented, the seat ripped right up off the seat post.

I was apoplectic. In 24 hours I would be departing for a cycling trip in France without a bike!

I raced home, hid the destroyed bike and tried to devise a plan. A couple of calls to see if I could borrow a bike were futile. I headed into the city to La Bicicletta, the big roadie shop, to see if they might have something suitable on the floor.

They did!

It was an aluminum Specialized Allez in the  crazy black and white Zebra stripes of the Acqua-Sapone racing team. It fit. I told my woeful tale to the sales person who shook his head sadly; “it happens more than you know,” he reassured me, then agreed to swap out some parts for me so I could have it by the end of the afternoon.

The new Specialized got me up and over Col d'Aspin on only our third ride together.

Sure enough it was. I squeezed in a quick shakedown before packing it away for the flight to France, where she would get a proper maiden ride.

And that’s, “the rest of the story.”



One response

7 07 2011

Actually, it’s NOT the rest of the story. There’s more to this story… like say what happened a couple of weeks after he returned from said trip with said bike 😀

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