Steel. Wool. Campagnolo

        One of those Spring days that makes you feel guilty about staying inside. After all, you bitched and moaned all winter about the cold, about the grey, about the dark, and now that’s all gone, replaced by partly sunny skies, temps in the 60s, a long day, and a light breeze. To stay inside would be like saying, “You know what, I could live in Antarctica for all I care.”
        But you make it outside, dispatch with some cursory yardwork (wishing you were Edward Scissorhands) and then drag the bike out of the basement for it’s first ride of the year. Yes, the old bike. The old steel bike, Serotta frame circa 1990 something, Campagnolo gruppo from the same paleocyclic era. You remember building it up like it was yesterday. And you wish you weren’t so cheap, waiting for parts or the entire bike to fail so that you could by a new one. You imagine, in your mind’s high definition mind, a scene from The Mummy or other big budget film, where the hero touches the ancient relic and it turns to dust before his very eyes. If only your bike would do that so that you’d have a reason to buy a new one.
        So many miles, so many memories on this thing, and it just keeps rolling. Everyone else has left steel behind for aluminum, carbon fiber, or some combination of both, and gruppos have gone from 8 to 9 and now 10 speeds as spoke counts have gone in the opposite direction. Weight is down too - even budget models have you beat, never mind the anorexic ones. It’s almost embarrassing to ride - you might as well be on a steel-rimmed Schwinn Varsity.
        To make matters worse, you reach into your wardrobe and pull out a wool Pearl Izumi jersey as old as the bike - maybe even older. Wool, for crying out loud! From sheep! Those thing eat grass, walk 10 feet, and then poop it out! Wool doesn’t come from a lab, doesn’t have a fancy name with UltraWickCoolSensorMax in it, and isn’t sold with a fancy tag including one of those faux scientific diagrams showing good stuff staying in and bad stuff being repelled.
        Despite all this, you hit the road, and within 10 pedal strokes all is forgotten. The bike, like it has always done, responds crisply to every input. And the wool jersey manages to wick after all these years, and keep you both warm and cool, as the sun flits in and out, as the wind waxes and wanes, as your body temperature rises and falls with the road. Newer tech may make you prouder at a group ride, but it ain’t gonna make riding any sweeter.

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