Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Brad Hawkins: The Fleeting Beauty Gone

My pal Brad Hawkins has this wonderful habit of sending out these occasionally over-the-top bits of bicycle prose that make me go "Damn! Can I post this on my blog?" And Brad, generous soul that he is, has thus far always responded in the affirmative. Today is one of those days, so the blog is blessed with another Brad story.

I will editorialize slightly and say that I always figured that when I appear in visions I would more like Yoda speak and not sound so old-Testamentish. But then my spirit guide is an old turtle who told me he probably does not exist, so I really have no right to question Brad's tale.

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Dear Friends of the Wheel,

No, this is not an invitation to rise up from your soft pillow and groggily chase me down on some crazy ride. Today, I give you a ride report. A ride report that speaks to the highs and the lows of human existence. I will tell you of a righteous desire to serve my fellow man that turned horribly askew.

I took off for a church meeting from my house at 6:35 PM, January 23rd. The night was balmy, almost 50 degrees. My Surly powerful under my legs and with a light tail wind, I found myself zipping along at previously unheard of speeds. Traffic was easily conquered as they were stopped completely on Mercer street east bound and Fairview North and West bound. It was a cyclist's delight.

Cresting the top of Eastlake, I chased down two cyclists who were also making excellent time. Just before I arrived, one took the lane to miss a parking car and was honked at uninterruptedly by some little coupe all the way to the red light. After honking so insistently for the better part of 30 seconds, the coupe turned left and had to yield and wait for oncoming traffic. Strangely, the coupe didn't honk at the red light nor at the oncoming traffic. The other cyclist and I just looked askance.

But I digress. The real excitement came on the trip back. Upon starting from the stop light at Roosevelt and 45th, I started pumping down the hill in a 52/18 gear and was immediately rebuffed by a loud kerthunk!. I wasn't hit, I wasn't in pain, and I wasn't shot. All systems go. However, my right crankarm had sheared off the end with pedal intact and was laying behind me in the crosswalk. I picked up the pieces and walked the bike over to get some change for a bus ride.

Here's where things get fun: I got some juice, looked at my bike, and then was caught up in a vision, yeah a vision of great magnitude. In that vision, Kent Peterson came to me and spake thusly: "Oh great beloved Bradley, do not turn your cheek from the way ahead. Shed not a tear for this defective metal for it is as a tinkling brass in the eyes of the Lord. Cast your visage upon the distant space needle, get back on your bike, and ride with great purpose, for I am Kent, all powerful randonneur."

Realizing my options, I hopped on my bike, kicked down into much lower gear, and pedaled home with one crank. In doing so, I discovered some things. Namely, that I don't have anything approaching a rounded stroke, that nobody really pulls up with clipless pedals until something like this happens, that hills are really, really hard with one pedal, that your power output goes down 75 percent, and that nobody seems to notice. You're still some crazy cyclist out at night who would ostensibly be better served with a car.

Ride well, ride creatively,

Brad Hawkins

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I will add just a couple of notes to Brad's story. First off, Brad has massive, powerful legs like a T-Rex. He regularly hauls his cello behind his bike in a trailer and I think this contributed to his amazing crank-snapping power. Second, his note arrived in my computer just as I was overhauling my Power Grip equipped pedals and I thought, "yeah one-footed pedaling is really hard with no foot retention." The streets are clear now and I'm back to riding with my Power Grip pedals and Shimano shoes instead of the bare platform pedals and Keens.
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