Bearings of course, ceramic ball bearings, but wait, I’m getting ahead of myself, let me back up. Lend me your ear for more gap year stories.
Mr CB was also known as ‘Penguin’ as in ‘The Penguin’ from the Batman television series. The original series first aired in 1966 and ran for two years, went off air and hid out in the bat cave until making a Hollywood resurgence decades later. If you look up a clip from the original series you will see the twin of Mr Ceramic Balls who earned the enviable nickname of Penguin due to a rather pronounced twitch that overcame his features every time he spoke about his bikes.
Penguin had many bikes in his well to do stable. Not the run of the mill expensive racing bikes that any old Joe can pick up with enough cash, but hand crafted titanium and one off concept bike-show bikes. Penguin had bikes that I had only ever seen in magazines or hanging up like the precious, magnificent pieces of art that they were, and lucky for us he took turns bringing his obsessions de art into the shop to be tuned i.e. cleaned and drooled over.
“These are our kids” he would crow, answering the unasked question of why his wife would allow such frivolous expenditure.
“And I can afford it” the real answer.
Obsessed with weight, Penguin would, on occasion have us special order ceramic parts to lighten his ride. Ceramic hubs, ball bearings and bottom bracket, carrying wholesale price tags in the hundreds of dollars range and for what, a few less grams?
A few less grams when climbing the Alps, Penguin informed me one fateful afternoon that try as I might I will never get back.
If you’ve looked up the Penguin character from Batman or you have an idea of what a penguin looks like, then you would have an idea of the basic shape of Mr CB- a bit pudgy and short, with the excited twitch of course, but in this case substitute a ridiculously expensive bike for the umbrella and a top of the range pair of Oakley’s for the monocle and you will have the perfect image of Mr CB. Add in cycling shoes with cleats and he even walked like the real thing.
On this particular afternoon while he waited for the finishing touches to his ceramic bottom bracket installation, I made the classic error of pointing out the absurdity of a fat man worrying about the weight of the bike when he could clearly lose a few kilos and save thousands of dollars.
At this point the twitch risked dislodging his eye socket as he proceeded to account for his heavy stature being a result of fine dining every year on his annual pilgrimage to Le Tour. As punishment for my comment I then endured an oxygen zapping thirty minutes as Penguin detailed his rides up Alp D’Huez, Hautacam and of course Col du Tourmalet, all pronounced with a Berlitz language school accent and emphasized with a stare and twitch. I frantically looked towards Tim the trusted mechanic, working on Penguin’s progeny however with the bike still in the work-stand I was beginning to fear that the only way out would be an appearance by Batman and his trusty BFF Robin.
On and on Penguin droned and twitched until the delicate sound of a ceramic bearing bike stopped the comparison of Tourmalet cheese to the lesser local curds and the excited twitch took over in a comical bend away from the cheesy grate of words.
Wordlessly Penguin handed over $800 as he stroked the bike and made soft cooing sounds. Tim and I watched on with relief as the gentle click of the ceramic bearings weaved their magic spell and guided Penguin out of the shop.
Holy ceramic balls Batman pass me the cheese!
No related posts.