Yesterday morning was a disaster. Zero coffee until 11am, a dentist appointment I was late to, frustration at not really having a bike I can do anything with, the empty sense of not really belonging anywhere, and mood swings like woah.
Funny, how, a little past noon, I was standing in a place I would have never expected to be a year ago, surrounded by friends who work in a bike shop in NYC, comfortably snapping too many pictures. And then having lunch with the incredibly awesome people behind Independent Fabrication.
Yup, that’s right. I went to IF. I’m still not quite sure how it happened. But when NYC Velo became an IF dealer a few weeks ago, a trip to Boston was planned, and a casual “you should come” turned into a full day of adventure.
It started, of course, in Somerville, at the infamous IF factory. A place I couldn’t have dreamed of entering without some tangible pretext [most likely in the form of a credit card and an order form for a custom frame], I entered empty-handed and left with an SD disk full of pictures, a few new friends, and some capacity to dream of racing bicycles again.
Mostly broke and with a knee that’s slowly giving out, but simultaenously terrified of the obligation to race that would come with having a fully-functioning geared bike, I’m currently having a classic love/hate relationship with the Bianchi. Yesterday it was mostly hate/hate to the point where I was hating all bicycles. Yet somehow I dragged the tractorino to Somerville to a place full of too pretty bicycles and a spray-painted wooden sign that demanded those within those factory walls to “Live the Dream.”
An audacious command, the desire to do exactly that seems to permeate the people of IF. But in a way that doesn’t reek of douchebaggery or condescension. The somewhat intimidatingly large logo on the factory door leads into a bike nerd’s paradise, but one that’s full of friendly, incredibly laid-back people. Serious people who have managed to retain the fun in their work and craft. And that is impressive.
IF’s passion for bicycles cleared the doubting depression over my ability to do anything of value on a bicycle. Team jerseys became coveted items again, as did derailleurs. Over lunch at the Tavern At the End of the World, I even jokingly recalled a casual suggestion that, to me, seemed completely absurd: that I should get an IF and race for NYC Velo in Boston. Too bad it was snatched up as “brilliant” and “great” with Andy and Joe [of IF] informing me that I could “totally pull off a Factory Lightweight” but I’d have to wait on a NYC Velo kit that would actually fit.
I blinked before backpedaling in panicked fear, the thought of an IF Factory Lightweight a little too much for my awkward legs to handle. And while talk of racing seemed centered around the kind that involves two derailleurs, NYC Velo managed to leave with the infamous pursuit IF track bike in the back of their car. I even got to touch it.
With a Dolan in my kitchen, racing track seems much more feasible. But when I do decide on something with multiple gears and the ability to shift between them…well, that Factory Lightweight is looking really sexy…