Some Jersey-Related Notes from Fatty: First, congratulations to “Rexinsea,” who guessed that I had spent $1462.50 on postage for the jerseys. This guess was only $8.65 off the actual total ($1453.85). Nice work! Rexinsea, email me your address and the size of jersey you want.
Next, several of you have asked if all the original jersey orders have been shipped. They have. I sent out all the US-bound jerseys a week ago (except for a few new orders and size exchanges, which I shipped yesterday); they should all arrive within the next couple days. I shipped all international orders Monday. They should arrive about two weeks from now.
And finally, I wanted to thank those of you who have bought a jersey (original or pink), t-shirt, or socks, have sent in cards, comments or email, or have posted encouraging things on your own blogs. In particular, today I see that Shelley, an American expat living in Rome, is asking her readers to help out. I tell you what: bad stuff happens to good people, but that’s when you find out how good people can really be (Another example: someone just anonymously hired and paid for a cleaning service to come to our house every week, magically making our lives much, much easier in an instant). Thanks, people.
What is an Instant?
Today I want to detail seven perfect instants most cyclists have experienced. But first, you’ve got to understand what I mean by “instant.” An instant is an incredibly brief moment. So while your first Springtime ride in buff, tacky alpine singletrack was almost certainly perfect, it was not a perfect instant. Perfect ride, probably. Perfect memory, certainly. But not a perfect instant.
A perfect instant is a moment that hits you suddenly and often unexpectedly. It’s there and then it’s over. And if you don’t think about it, you may lose it.
I don’t know why I’m flogging this description so shrilly. Sorry.
Seven Perfect Instants
Unlike the Seven Perfect Foods and Seven Perfect Climbing Songs, I am more than happy to admit the possibility that seven is perhaps too small a number for the quantity of perfect instants that can happen on a bike. In fact, the number of perfect biking instants may not be finite. By all means, list your own.
Here, though, are my seven:
- A Perfect Carve: You’re flying down a nice, straight downhill, rolling at a fast-but-not-freaky 35mph. You’ve got to make a left turn, but you don’t have to stop — you’ve got the right of way. You could hit the brakes, but instead you bring the inside pedal up and just lean for all you’ve got. Your bike tracks smoothly, Your tires grip fine, and you exit the corner as fast as — feels like faster than — you went into it. Tell me you aren’t grinning. You know why you can’t tell me you aren’t grinning? Because you are grinning, that’s why.
- Certainty of Success: When trying a technical mountain biking move, I have had to suspend the “three tries” rule, oh, krazillions of times. Friends are usually good about letting me wear myself out trying the same move, over and over and over, ’til I eventually give up. But then, once in a while, everything lines up just right. Right as I get to the crux of the move, I somehow know I’m going to clean it. I don’t know how or why I know it, but I do know it. That moment of clarity — that I’ve somehow done it right and will shortly be celebrating at the top of the move — is the very essence of a perfect instant.
- Disaster Averted: Have you ever brought too much heat into an exposed corner, panicked, locked up your brakes, and then — just as you were about to plummet to your certain demise — managed to ease up on the brakes just enough to get your wheels to start turning again? You stop skidding and roll out of the corner, safe, with the rubber side down. The adrenaline kicks in. You are alive! And, evidently, invincible.
- Disaster Converted: One moment I will never ever forget is the time I was bombing down the Powerline trail in the Leadville 100. The trail is riddled with erosion trenches, and I managed to drop my front wheel into one of them. Of course, the front of the bike stopped immediately, and the endo that should have immediately followed should have planted my face firmly into the ground. Instead, unbelievably (but believe it anyway, OK?), I managed to click out of my pedals as the bike flipped over, stepped over the handlebar, and landed on my feet, coming to a shuffle-stop. My bike slid to a stop just a foot or two behind me. I picked it up and continued on, no more than a couple seconds lost. No damage to me, no damage to my bike. Perfect.
- New Cleats: You know how your mountain biking cleats — especially Eggbeaters and Time ATAC cleats — wear down over the course of the season, until they’re nothing more than unrecognizable blobs of brass? It happens so gradually that you don’t even really notice the increased pedal-to-shoe sloppiness until it’s pretty much too late. But then, when you finally replace your cleats and step into your pedals the first time, it’s like you’ve just bought a brand new bike. That solid click tells you you’re locked in solid and ready for anything.
- Last Summit: Nobody’s making me do tough climbs. I’m seeking them out. I’ve got what’s coming to me. But still, every time I reach the top of a hard climb, the relief that 1) it’s over and 2) I made it is just about enough to bring tears to my eyes. Except I’m far too manly to ever actually cry.
- Not Empty After All: You’ve been chasing someone in your group. You’ve been doing fine, staying right with him, but now you know it: you’re completely blown. Then, just as you’re about to sag and let him go, you notice that he’s dropping his pace — he’s cooked, too. Knowing this, you stand up and power by him. Turns out you’ve got a little bit more in you than you thought.