Dario Pegoretti and Jean-Paul Sarte. That’s a good day of work. That’s a paycheck’s worth right there.
I’ve been taking the new Pegoretti out on the lunch ride. It’s among the most beautiful of all the bikes that hang in my shop, or any I’ve ever ridden. It may be, flat-out, the most beautiful, but I have trouble, personally, naming a singular superlative in most things; it certainly is the most distinctive, the most artistic.
Somehow, I am lucky enough to have gotten to know Dario a little bit, to have not only visited his shop a few times and sat down for espressos and shots of liquor with him, but to hang out with him at his home, have dinner at a tiny place in his hometown, take the piss out of each other a little, and, full of grappa, talk some of beauty and art and truth and the moon and the existential delights of urinating in a gutter. After Dario had measured me for my bike and we’d talked about how I ride, I sent him some jazz I like and an Italian translation of The World Doesn’t End and said, “Paint me a bike like this.”
He did. Leaving aside for now the road feel of the bike, and how it fits me (which I have to hold back on so I can write about it in our April’s buyer’s guide), the bike is exquisite. It’s like owning a Basquiat that also happens to be able to dive into a corner at 50 mph.
So the other day, when the lunch pack turned onto a wet, gravelly, potholed, muddy road, someone said to me, “Uh-oh. I bet you’re hating this.”
I didn’t reply — everyone I ride with knows I love gravel — but my expression must have communicated some degree of confusion.
“Your bike,” said the guy, motioning to the Pegoretti. “The paint.”
Gravel was already pinging off the down tube.
The cyclist Jean-Paul Sartre, who according to Simone de Beauvoir “would amuse himself by sprinting on the hills,” would have happily hammered the gravel with me. In Being and Nothingness, he explained that, “To possess a bicycle is to be able first to look at it, then to touch it. But touching is revealing as insufficient; what is necessary is to be able to get on the bicycle and take a ride. But this gratuitous ride is likewise insufficient; it would be necessary to use the bicycle to go on some errands. And this refers us to longer uses . . . But these trips themselves disintegrate into a thousand appropriative behavior patterns, each one of which refers to others. Finally, as one could foresee, handing over a bank note is enough to make a bicycle belong to me, but my entire life is needed to realize this possession.”
One day, someday, the Pegoretti will have a long scratch on the top tube from the time I laid it down on an icy corner or, exhausted, leaned it frame-on-metal against that damned garbage can outside the bike shop. There will be a ding in the chainstay from a rock shot up by my friend’s tire on some personally legendary day when for no reason except to do so we attacked every broken road as if it were the Arenberg Forest. There will be a spot of tar I can never seem to get off. The frame will show that time I dropped the wrench, a claw mark from my dog who will by then be long dead, a worn spot from that road trip when it laid, rattling softly, for hours against another frame with only a thin blanket and hope between.
I shifted to the big ring and went hard at the road. Years from now, my Pegoretti might cease belonging mostly to Dario, and become mine.
Originally published in The Selection, December 22, 2011