Internal Detours
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
  Folly Beach, or The Cyclist On Vacation

We drove to Folly Beach to take part in the big extended family vacation. Seeing as this is a cycling-oriented blog, it's enough to note that it's been a lovely vacation so far, and it's nice to see everyone again.

On the road, it was my wife, our 1-year-old son and yours truly, with Django the incredible patinated piebald Peugeot PX-10E riding on the rack at the back of the Prius. Of course it rained with increasing heaviness as we approached the coast, finally just thumping down in great wet thuds on the windshield. I've learned the hard way that if I carry a bike somewhere on a car rack, it's gonna rain. This time around I had double-wrapped the saddle and saddlebag with plastic shopping bags tied 'round the seatpost. When we got to town, we called Ana's mother and learned that the keys provided by the realtors didn't work. Ahem. Ana's cousin managed to find a way in, and we were able to unload about the time the rain stopped.

The next morning I slipped out for a ride. I pointed the bike towards the western end of the island and found myself down in the drops and fighting the wind, going back and forth between the 45x20 and the 45x18, depending on the gusts. When I hit the tree-lined part of East Ashley, I was able to turn the bigger gear with greater ease.

At the intersection of Ashley and 12th, I slowed, waited for traffic to pass, and looped back for a second look. Yup, it was a bike in a trash heap at the side of the road, a yellow Specialized Rockhopper from 20 years back. No wheels, bottom headset race missing crucial bits, some rust, torn saddle - the usual. It had the infamous BioPace chainrings and a U-brake attached under the chainstays. I wavered - but no, it's not my size, I have enough bikes in the basement anyway, I'm on vacation, and this one time I could pass up the opportunity to trashpick a decent bike.

Of course, if it had been my size, say, or something old, French, and made of good tubing - but no, no. Ride on, and so I did, down the leafy tunnel of road past houses that became smaller and "shackier" as I approached town. I stopped for the traffic light, then bumped across the intersection and continued on. Finally, I reached the park at the end of the island. I turned around, and immediately could feel the wind at my back. Up onto the big ring, then settling into the 52x18, occasionally picking it up to the 16T during sustained gusts.

The tubulars sang, despite the bumpbumpbump of the lump in the back tire, and the old bike floated over the not-so-great pavement. Birds exploded away from the trashbins by the side of the road as I zipped along, occasionally overtaking couples and families on hybrids and cruisers and mountain bikes. I would occasionally see riders going the other way on road bikes or tandems, and unlike some areas, these riders actually waved - take note, Greenville wannabe racers.

I rode back past the house, bound for the other end of the island, the wind pushing me along, down in the drops and feeling nicely warm. Down past the last house to the cul-de-sac, and then working my way through the barricade and following the cracked old asphalt towards the beach, stopping where the pavement ended and turning back. I went back a ways and explored the side streets, digging the laid-back ambience and the older, funkier places before riding back to the house in time to watch my son play with his aunts and his grandmama.

I have no clue how many miles I had for the day - no electronics on this bike, and there's a lot to be said for that some days. No directeur sportif, nobody paying me to ride the bike, not even some jerk feeling the need to be alpha dog and lead a testosterone-fueled, drop-yer-buddies, eat-the-wounded, Buycycling-magazine-influenced hammerfest. Just one guy in this 40s riding a beat-up old racing bike like the one he wanted when he was a kid, and having a wonderful time.
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Location: Greenwood, South Carolina, United States
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