July 15, 2010 Leave a comment
We enjoyed reading Lee’s Scattante Story entry because of his commitment to riding and just for his ability to turn a good phrase. Here’s a picture of Lee back in racing shape, tearing up his local crit, but read on below to learn about Club RAW and the cold winter rides that got him motivated to race once again:
I was once a cyclist and a bicycle mechanic. But as I looked through craigslist, I was just someone years apart from any athletic accomplishment, looking for a way to get downtown without paying for parking or fighting the bus schedules.
A friend of mine from the college rowing team was the first I knew to own a Scattante. He liked the bike a lot. He was 6-foot-7 and it fit him and held up to all the thrashing – from the sprints between the boathouse to the engineering campus, to the bar scene of Madison, Wis.
His Scattante was black – all black, because he’d gotten some stripper from the boathouse to take off the decals and make it solid and maybe somewhat mysterious.
When I found my Scattante, a cyclocross frame, I kept the decals. “Scattante” was a mystery to me. People here in Wisconsin generally didn’t recognize the word as Italian. I didn’t recognize it as Italian; it’s not one of the words I came across while watching “Breaking Away” or reading “A Farewell to Arms.” And it had some of the same rhythm and feel to it as names around here: Pewaukee, Wauwatosa, Muskego.
My rides on it started in September a few years ago; I’d cover the three miles from my house to the Capitol Square twice each day. That seems like trivial distance to me now, but I recall feeling stronger as the days went on. I got fenders and put on a hat and gloves. My job required me to dress formally, so I typically rode this bike in worsted wool and leather soles.
In November, I had an idea with a friend who was also riding each day to the Square. We called it Club RAW – or Ride All Winter. I learned that studded tires help with ice and hard-pack, but things still got squirrely in the grey, tire-rutted stuff that I called churn. The Scattante cut through the nighttime snow that was fresh, bright and sharp and also bounded over the refrozen treads. I saw how a night I’d assumed to be cold and dark and dismal can be the opposite when passing through it on a bicycle.
After the lakes opened up and the bike was clean of all its briny grit and grime, I started to do longer tours. I raced the bike path hotshots when someone would throw down a sprint. I started to think about the last crit I raced, almost 10 years ago, where I was behind the leader on the final lap and struck my pedal to slide out in the second corner.
So I gave it a go. The Scattante that I rode under those glowing winter nights was the ticket that got me where I am now: riding strong again, racing, reaching for something.
And bicycle racing is the most exhilarating sport I’ve ever known. The feelings from it pour into my mind, unpredictably, in full clarity. All of a sudden, I’ll be back in a corner that turns into the blazing sun, up a climb when the burn doesn’t mean I’ll be dropped, under the spray of a water bottle, feeling the sting of salt.
Bicycling and racing is a permanent experience: I have all the corners, descents, breakaways and crashes here with me, and they got there because of a good deal on a Scattante.