Nostalgia is a funny thing. On the one hand, it seems natural to remember your past fondly, to want to rekindle or at least remember the good times you’ve had, but by and large I think most nostalgia is for things we’re sorry we missed out on.
I was 13 or 14 when Vision released their first “Gator” skate deck, the signature model of Mark “Gator” Rogowski, who was, at the time, one of skating’s true rock stars. I wanted that deck badly. Actually, I wanted ANY deck badly, because I wasn’t allowed to skate. While all the other kids were busy practicing their ollies and picking scabs off their knees, I was tooling around behind them on a bike.
My mother insisted I would break my arm on a skateboard, and she was probably right, but that never really washed with my teenaged self. The resentment has still, maybe, not entirely subsided. When Vans put out a Christian Hosoi signature edition shoe a few years back, I bought a pair. I don’t know why.
Except I do.
As a cyclist, I feel nostalgia keenly. As many new road bikes as I have floating through my head, it’s normally the throw back rides that catch my eye, the bikes I wanted to own when I was younger and the sport was burrowing its way into my brain. Many of these are bikes that were current before I’d even heard the name Merckx. And now I’ve wasted not a few evenings trolling eBay for the right old Moser or Merckx steel frame to turn into a labor of love. But a love of what exactly?
This is about rewriting personal history, going back and joining a club you couldn’t get into or didn’t even know existed when it was the place to be or the thing to do. There is something hopeful about it, this revision process, but also something a little pathetic or stunted. Those bikes I lust for are probably not faster than what I’m riding now. And most of them are pretty close to rusted through.
This week’s Group Ride looks backwards and wonders which of the bits and pieces of the past do you still dream about bringing into your present. Is there value in this process? Why do you think we burnish the past to such a high sheen, and how does that, maybe, damage the present?
Be careful with your answers. I’d hate to see you break an arm.