Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com.
Find more columns by Joel here.
I was walking through the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant last weekend when I was waved over by a bachelorette party. The bride-to-be was required, by tradition, to get a picture touching a man's biceps, and I was the lucky guy. While I do proudly lay claim to many fine qualities the table's women might enjoy - I'm darn good at trivia, have a fine set of calves and intoxicating blue eyes - bulging biceps aren't among my features.
Or at least, I didn't think so. Since then, I've begun to re-evaluate my own strength.
I bought a new bike Monday afternoon, settling on a mean-looking green mountain bike - the Gary Fisher Piranha - from Steamboat Ski and Bike Kare.
The Piranha technically became the second bike I've owned during my five months in Steamboat. My first bike I had shipped from Kansas, with the rest of my belongings. It was a mountain bike that cost me $100 three years ago at a going-out-of-business Kmart. There was no price tag, and in an effort to get it out the door, the manager guesstimated its worth before selling it to me.
He might still be laughing. The bike wasn't nearly what I'd hoped, and the beast earned a near-permanent spot on my patio. From my couch, I watched all its metal parts slowly give way to rust.
The 18-speed mountain bike's worst feature was its reluctance to go into the first six gears. It was possible, but you had to strike a pretty accurate kick to the gear apparatus while riding, a treacherous prospect while climbing any hill worthy of those easier gears.
Its second-worst feature was a nearly useless set of brakes.
The bike was good at getting downtown. I now live up a long, gradual hill. It's not steep by Colorado standards, but it's not easy, either.
Going downtown, my old bike was awesome.
Coming home was entirely different - it was impossible. Thanks in large part to the terrible gear shifter, I never got even a quarter of the way actually riding the bike. Making it up the hill seemed like a Herculean task.
I made up for my lack of girthy arms in front of the bachelorette party by making a tough-looking face and laughing along. It went well - as did my first ride to the top of the hill on my new bike. I made it all the way on my first try.
It made me realize just how worthless my last bike had been. I shouldn't even use the term "bike" - it might as well have been a wagon or a skateboard. It was just something that rolled downhill.
I rode my new bike up my driveway and pushed it across the lawn toward my porch, the perfect spot to leave it waiting for my next trip.
I had to lean it against a nearby wall, however. My $800 got a new sense of self-worth and a reinvigorated urge to work out and get in shape.
It didn't get me a kickstand.