This past weekend was pretty crazy around here, owing largely to the April Fool's Ride and Cadence Fast Friday. We had lots of friends in town, events to run, prizes to make, checkpoints to rock, you know, the whole nine yards. Friday night, we all left after work and rode our bikes way way down south to this spot under I-95 where technically cars could park but none did. On one side of the lot you could watch the southbound lane of traffic zooming along beyond a grassy median and on the other was Front St. and Target. And it was a little romantic, if you can believe it. Tons of bikes and tons of kids all hanging out at the end of the week in a toasty little hurrah. And it was a beautte of a day, as my dad might say, 60 degrees or so and it stayed light out til almost 9.
I went into this whole thing with a tiny bit of skepticism as to its fun-factor. That is to say, sometimes I have trouble having fun at super crazy track bike social events because I take a lot of this stuff with a grain of salt. That doesn't mean that I'm not capable of drooling over a really nice setup, but it does mean that I'd rather have a really nice vintage road frame than a bareknuckle. That's just me. I ride a cruiser most days and I will just say that I don't even come near the category of being a bike snob. And so friday night I was psyched about the commraderie-adled, spring-time, beer-drinking, entertaining qualities but nervous about the potential for bike-culture-overwhelm(BCO).
Let me tell you, I was really pleasantly proven wrong about that last bit. Friday night was every ounce of the former inclinations towards fun stuff and then some. And when I said romantic earlier, I meant it. Romantic like hanging out at the skate park back in junior high when you're crushing on skater boys. Romantic like bonfires in the summertime. Romantic like watching kids do fancy things on track bikes in just a parking lot, using a fence and a palette as a ramp and racing around a track marked just by the columns that were already there.
All this, and I actually had to leave early to catch my friend Steve's first show with a new little band back in West Philly at Fiume. It was a little show at our friendly neighborhood bar, packed full to bursting, and they opened for a little fiddle-banjo outfit also from the neighborhood. And as I watched this scrawny but lovable West Philly boy play the banjo from near the front row, I at once saw my evening in such a precisely insightful light. The banjo players and even Tim and Steve's set were so West Philly. Which is to say, emotional and bearded and crusty and pretty and acoustic and nice and twangy, alt-country indie music with a real ear for idealistic musings on alternative worlds where love conquers all. And this sort of thing, of which I am fairly skeptical and can be critically distant, I also happen to really love. And sitting at Fiume on Friday night, having been earlier engrossed in the different but equally extreme and therefore open-to-mockery little cultural niche that is track bikes, I realized that it is possible to be aware and thoughtful about life generally, to see the shortcomings of some things, but also to appreciate experiential qualities for what they are. You can be realistic and idealistic in the same time-space. It is both okay and necessary to allow yourself to be absorbed into these extremes sometimes. It is okay to find yourself at a West Philly show and realize you're having a really great time of it. And it is also okay to find yourself under I-95 at Cadence Fast Friday and realize that watching people do crazy things on beautiful bikes is pretty cool and insanely fun to watch. Sometimes you just have to get extreme, stop seeing the big picture for a second and zoom in. Leave your grains of salt at the door and get in there.
So maybe you realized this many years ago, and for that, accept my belated congratulations. Because this stitcher too rarely allows herself to wallow in the moment, to get extreme and for that, probably misses a significant degree of record breaking fun. I hereby stand corrected. If you catch me being a moderate in the future I give you permission to extend to me a swift kick in the pants. Even if we've never met. It can be hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but not impossible. And I'd sure like to try.