For all that, she wasn't a techy. She lugged her sports car (a Datsun 240Z) in 4th gear
I've only been cycling a year. I started with a Brompton folding bike (Lucille, my go-to bike for urban riding), and graduated soon to carbon fiber (Lola). I didn't intend to get anything super fancy. I wanted a bike that would be fun to ride, that was light and made to climb. I was willing to spring for carbon fiber but if anything, Lola was a pig in a poke. It was only in succeeding days that I learned what a great decision I'd made.
Lola (I'm told) is "cutting edge," though I don't really know what that means. But when I finally took a class in changing a tire, the tech - a mechanic and bike builder - couldn't even find the quick release for her rear brakes. Nobody could (it's here, under the front handle bars):
I started cycling after a breast diagnosis that scared the bejesus out of me; I ended up biking as a way of taking mental and physical control of my life - and my fears. Whatever my two bikes have cost me financially, it's not a patch (no pun) on cancer treatments. The emotional toll is something else altogether. But I've actually been greeted (slightly tongue in cheek, but not really), with the "Fancy Bike" statement.
I have long been someone who used the good china for every day occasions. But that metaphor goes double with age. When you start to grapple directly with mortality, when your friends are struggling, some dying, buying a fancy bike doesn't seem like such an extravagance. And I love what Lola gives me. Although I'm really still a beginner, because of Lola I ride with agility and power. Bicycling after all is a technology-based activity. No matter how good a rider you are, you're only having so much fun on a 40-lb bike.
I think of my mother and her Datsun 240Z a lot when I ride Lola. Especially along the Hudson Greenway when I'm passed by speedy spandex warriors who tend to ride on the edge. Like my mother, I'm a defensive rider. I always expect the worst of the other riders on the road (and am rarely disappointed), so I play it fairly safe. But when I see an open field ahead of me, a chance to pass a dawdler or someone whose unpredictable weaving is a danger to everyone on the path, I can step it up fast. One change of gears, a tinkle of Lola's bell, and Lola becomes a fuel-injected engine. We surge ahead and quickly become a dot on the horizon.
There's something to be said for this. There's something to be said for being fearless about hills. For the thrill of just getting on the bike every day. There's something to be said for flipping the bird to cancer, to aging - and mortality even though (with luck) we will all face it eventually. Sometimes on a cloudless day with Lola's peerless frame beneath me and the wind at our back, it's hard to grasp that one day I will be too old and frail to do this.
So for now I have a fancy bike. There's something to be said for this.