A brief glance at Rachel's bike...
Beyond randonneuring or commuting I’ve also been riding with Rachel for pleasure. Our riding style fits in well with the Slow Bicycle Movement, as we stick to traffic-separated paths for the most part and ride at a slow pace more conducive to chatting, coasting, and observing…a nice contrast with my solo and group rides which emphasize speed, endurance, and (inevitably) suffering.
A few months back we purchased a mid-1960’s-era American Eagle (the predecessor to Nishiki) 5-speed bicycle for her (made by Kawamura Cycles in Japan). It is a beautiful lugged steel bike and appears to have been scarcely ridden until now. We have made some adjustments to it to better fit her, replacing the stem, handlebars, and brake levers so far.
Rachel is a meticulous craftsman (er, woman) – regardless of the medium involved (e.g. needlepoint, technical pen, house paint, etc) – so it was no surprise to me when on her first attempt she did a masterful and stylish job of wrapping her handlebars using white cork tape and red hemp twine.
Prior to adding a coat of shellac as the final touch, we went on a short ride (11.3 miles) towards Lake Balboa Park along the cycling path near our house. Riding into the sun it was somewhat difficult to see, and not long after remarking on the increased responsiveness of the narrow VO Belleville bars, she oversteered over a patch of slippery pine needles, and her bike swept out from under her.
Rolling (surprisingly gracefully, probably from her WuShu training) to safety, she was largely unscathed, much to my great relief. We paused to go over her bike, re-aligning the stem/handlebars, and fixing/adjusting the front brake – and after resting a bit headed off again still in good spirits. Unfortunately, her magnificent handle-bar wrap now has a ragged gash torn through it on one side…thankfully Rachel shrugged off the damage just as quickly as she did the small accident itself – in fact turning it into a new opportunity (should we re-wrap with cloth tape and put on cork grips? should we move to bar-end brakes? etc.):