The Other Woman Has Two Wheels

Because I’m very busy this week laying around on the couch while I try to keep cookie crumbs and wine stains out of the pages of the books I’m reading, I’m going to reprint an oldie but (hopefully) a goodie – one of the first essays I ever had published. This piece first appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on Feb 25 2006 and is responsible for my delusion that I have something compelling to say in print. Wishing you all a relaxing week and, as they say in Germany, a good push into the New Year!

My husband has a French mistress, and she is a beauty to behold — a Look 585 road bike. Silver and black and weighing only 16 pounds, she was built for speed in a way I never will be. 

Andrew’s affection for her is evident whenever he recounts, misty-eyed, their adventures on his Saturday group ride, and he is forever shopping for little gifts — new tires, a jersey for himself that complements her coloring — to show her how much he cares. 

It wasn’t always this way. When we met in graduate school in Arizona he was strictly a recreational cyclist and a noncommitted one at that — when his mountain bike was stolen from his apartment balcony, he expressed remorse but quickly moved on. 

Once we were married he began the drift into road biking, and I was an unwitting accomplice. When he took me to see my first professional road race in Philadelphia, I was captivated by the spectacle of these graceful athletes and their gleaming cycles. Soon I, too, was reading pro cycling magazines and watching the Tour de France while Andrew explained tactics and strategies to me. But his relationship with biking was still strictly platonic back then. 

Eight years ago we moved to the Bay Area, and that’s when things got serious. With temperate weather year-round and access to some of the country’s best bike routes right out our front door, he was able to indulge in his passion with new fervor. He joined a group of like-minded cyclists who have formed a support system for their biking co- dependencies. They’re a competitive bunch, jealously commenting on one another’s bike components and merciless when it comes to flat tires, winter flab or poor road handling. This crew has been on high e-mail alert for the past month, plotting optimal viewing spots for the Amgen Tour of California, the 700-mile race that concludes Sunday and saw some of cycling’s superstars ride the same roads that the group follows every week. 

Taking care of Andrew’s bikes — the Look and her predecessor, a Belgian Ridley relegated to “rain bike” status when she arrived — requires a phalanx of specialists. My husband spends a lot of off-bike hours perusing catalogs and visiting bike shops, searching for just the right component, tire or winter bibs. Walking into a local bike shop with him is akin to walking into Cheers with Norm. “ANDREW!” comes the cry from the bike mechanics and other shoppers. 

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