Wilder and his Schwinn

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007
By Yokota Fritz

It's not about the bike

This morning I rode to work on my high tech, lightweight carbon fiber road bike. My kit alone with high-tech wicking fabrics and computer-designed 'body geometry' fit is probably worth around $500.

I turned onto Rengstorff from Central Expressway in Mountain View, California and that's when I first saw Wilder and his Schwinn. I breezed by him at better than 25 mph, exuding arrogant roadie cool. I confidently maneuvered across three lanes of traffic to position myself in the left turn lane to Middlefield Road. A moment later, I hear a faint jangle of a bicyle bell behind me as Wilder smoothly pulls up alongside me in the left turn lane.

I scope Wilder out. He's wears baggy shorts, a polo shirt, and thong-style flip flops and rides an ancient, rusted, singlespeed Schwinn cruiser with balloon tires and ashtabula cranks. He sits slouched on the wide saddle, which is so low his knees almost touch his chest as he pedals. That bell clangs every time he hits a bump. Wilder tells me that he's been commuting by bike for two months, traveling 10 miles to his job in Menlo Park, California. "That's great," I tell Wilder.

The light changes and we take off. I pull off in front, of course, but then I relax and slow to 17 mph. Ding ding ding goes the bell, and next thing I know the heavy Schwinn passes me! Traffic is heavy on Middlefield so I joke about drafting Wilder.

I manage to pass him a couple of times, but Wilder manages to keep up and even pass me at times. The sloucher on a singlespeed cruiser pedals like mad in his flip-flops, but he actually hits 25 mph. I can't believe it! All the while his little bell keeps ringing, ding ding ding.

Before long it's a mad dash from light to light. I'm drafting trucks to keep up while he weaves onto the sidewalk when the road narrows. We're caught up in our own little race, passing other bike commuters and two pelotons of cyclists in matching team kit on their morning training rides. Sweat pours from me as I labor, while Wilder remains slouched and relaxed on his fat tire Schwinn. I can't believe it!

When I finally turn off at Willow Road, Wilder is actually ahead of me by half a block, his little bell still dinging. Curse you, Red Baron!

I'll try to post a photo of Wilder later tonight at my Flickr account.

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Big bikes have bigger inertia ... especially if it was a "Schwinn Racer." That's my model and I can hold 23 on the flats for long enough to embarrass roadies :-)
what a great story. thanks for sharing. ha. i'm going to smile about this when I remember it later.
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