|Pre-dawn light on Picacho Peak on the drive to the swap, stunningly early in the morning|
If your main impression of Tucson is from going to several GABA bike swaps like mine is (view the whole glorious string of secondhand gear here), you would come away believing that the city is fit, friendly, and steeped in bicycle culture beyond other cities that I am more familiar with. It's an interesting way to distort my understanding of a city.
|Once more excellent coffee from the Peddler on the Path Mobile Cafe|
|The bike of the Gray Wolf, a highly modified 25th Anniversary Eddy Merckx AXM. Watch the video.|
|There's just the one shifter, since he moves the front chain by hand|
|I love it when GABA does their MEGA clearances and sells jerseys and stuff for $20. Get there early, though.|
|The nicest people at the swap in the Robdogs truck made this "Homewrecker" with jalapenos, chili, and cheese for me|
|I notice they still make the tricycles from steel and not carbon fiber. Just sayin.|
|These were not technically up for swappage, but they caught my eye just off the street|
|Parking Day, too. You know, I was so tired by this point that I couldn't even make a decent tandem joke|
|The weather was rocking and so was the crowd|
|I got a bunch of good stuff. Including 25 reflective bike stickers.|
I know that Tucson on Bike Swap day is not the whole of the place. In some ways, it's a temporary fiction constructed for the benefit of bicycle aficionados in search of bargains and dreams, put up for the day like an imaginary park in a parking space, then taken down that night, to be replaced by the normal workaday streets teaming with cars and trucks.
But when so many of us turn out for the swap, it not only reinforces my distorted view, but also pushes the warm attractive essence of the fiction few steps, or pedal turns, closer to reality. I'm not saying the real parts of it which do exist--all that bike stuff, the people who know and greet each other, the regulars you see every time, the actual bike knowledge and bike culture which are apparent and deep--are not substantial or significant; quite the opposite. They are intensely real. But concentrated, focused, amplified like this along a few streets on bright, warm morning after I've driven down there from Phoenix, it's overwhelming. You can't help but get carried away with it and think of Tucson as a place where lone gray wolves ride off fast into the desert while the streets are filled with people who love or are attached to bikes for many different reasons. You just have to arrive before the sun comes up to watch it unfold fully, and also to get the best bargains.