As I was fiddling and fussing, I was interrupted by a woman passing by.
"You're a brave soul to be out on a bicycle in this weather," she began.
I couldn't help but look up to the sky with the bright shining sun and cloud-free skies. Yes, it was cold (very cold, actually), but it was a beautifully bright day. I resisted the urge to inform her that there was little I would count as brave about my transportation choice, and instead replied with a smile, "Well, it's much warmer now than when I left home!" Which was the truth as it had warmed more than 15 degrees since my departure.
The woman continued, "That's such a lovely saddle you have," as she bent toward the bicycle and gently caressed the leather as if it was made of delicate porcelain. "Really, it's quite beautiful," she stated again, slowly, as she walked to the front door of the building, still staring, as if in a trance, at my bike.
It sounds creepier in the re-telling than it was in the moment. It was one of those quick instances in life that I would normally pass over without giving it much thought, but on my ride home all I could think about was the woman's comment regarding the looks of the bicycle saddle.
In truth, I don't think about the looks of my saddles much these days, but rather just have a go-to option in mind. That wasn't always the case and initially when I first started using Brooks saddles, there was definitely a part of the decision that was based on looks. Today, when first building a bicycle, I may think about color choice (if I have to purchase a new saddle, rather than using one already owned), but that is about the extent of my thought on such matters. I have found a model that seems to work well for me on just about any bike, so I don't have to put thought into what will be appropriate when another build arises.
|This particular saddle photographed right after mounting for the first time. I was enraptured by the light color of this Brooks early on.|
Additionally, it took some time to figure out what type of saddle worked for me. I tried many synthetic options initially, but could never quite find comfort. Even different models of leather weren't to my liking. It wasn't so much that I chose a leather saddle because of its good-looks-factor (though, I do agree that I prefer the leather look over a plastic or rubberized choice), but rather that it just worked for my comfort.
When I arrived home from my ride on this day, I dismounted and studied the saddle, tilting and twisting my head from side to side like a puppy just hearing a new, high-pitched sound for the first time. The saddle had definitely aged since purchasing it more than five years prior. It has seen time on too many bikes as well, and I could easily see that it had changed quite a bit over the years. Though no one else would likely make this sort of assessment. There are some splotches from darker colored clothing, blemishes that have become more pronounced, and goodness knows I'm not great about re-applying proofide to the poor thing. I simply use - and unfortunately, sometimes abuse - this component.
As is true of many things in life, beauty is in the eye of the beholder though. Time has caused me to take for granted the saddle that allows me to ride in comfort and I no longer look at it seeing it as something pretty to look at, but rather as a functional piece that permits me longer stints on my bike in greater comfort. After all, it does have a purpose. But, somewhere along the line, I lost the desire to look at this item as pretty, and instead view it as practical.
|The same saddle today has achieved a used-patina, but I can see (when I pay attention) that it is still lovely.|
I took these words, this moment in time to appreciate not only the saddle, but the entire bicycle and the others in the fold as well. It's far too easy to take a bicycle for granted and I can often forget that the bicycle is not only functional, but something delightful to behold as well.