Thursday, August 23, 2012

It's Josh's Bike Now


It used to be mine.

I bought it "off the rack" at my local Kmart.  Or was it Walmart. Shit, I don't remember, but wherever it was, it happened ten years ago.  Maybe.  I forget.  Dammit!  I don't even remember why I bought it in the first place.

This gettin' old shit ain't for pussies.

Anyway.....

I bought this bike and used it briefly. Then it sat in the garage for a long time, collecting dust, the tires going flat.  Ignored.  Neglected. All but forgotten.

Then came Doctors Orders.

Ride your bike.

So, I pulled ten years of flotsam off the bike.  I cleaned it up.  I put air back in the tires.  I oiled the chain.  I went to the cupboard, grabbed my helmet and gloves and went back to go for a ride.

Both tires were already flat.

Gawddammit!

So, I went to the nearest bike shop and got a couple tubes.  I got home replaced the tubes, aired-up the tires and went for a ride.

Let me take a moment to describe the bike.  It was a full-suspension mountain bike.  For those unfamiliar with bikes like this, a full-suspension bike has a suspension system on both wheels.  It was made from aluminum and heavy (weighed in at 42 pounds).  It had 21 speeds - 7 gears (or cogs) on the rear wheel and 3 gears (or chainrings) on the crank.  The derailleurs were made by Shimano but not particularly good.  By any standard, this wasn't a particularly good bike, but it was serviceable.

I would joke about the bike.  I'd call it a POS (Piece of Shit).  I'd run down the derailuers, the wheels, the tires, the frame, the seat, the weight and whatever benighted, reprobate, creature designed it.  I would, at times, be relentless in my condemnation.  Privately, it was a much different story.

I was having fun.

Despite all the bike's shortcomings, I was enjoying the hell out of riding it. The sights and sounds associated with cycling were kind of intoxicating.  Meeting the challenges of a climb, a new route, an old route ridden faster or a longer route I found to be supremely satisfying.  I was feeling better.  I was losing a little weight.  My cardio-vascular health was improving.   It was all that, more and I was loving every minute of it. It may not have been the best bike in the world and it may have been every bit the POS I was telling people it was, but it was also my conveyance to a new world, a new way of life.

I found tinkering with that bike to be very therapeutic.  Going to the garage after dinner with a cup of coffee and NPR to work on my bike (whether it needed the work or not) became a ritual of sorts.  It was calming.  It was intimate.  It was rewarding.

It provided me with education.  I learned to do things I didn’t know how to do.  I learned to adjust derailleurs and brakes.  I cleaned and re-greased the wheel bearings.  I took it apart and put it back together.  I found out what differences changing seat or handlebar positioning would make.  I learned how to pace myself.  I learned how to listen to my body.

This bike, this “piece of shit”, was helping me in ways I had never thought I could be helped.  Taking me to places I had never considered going to.  My life was changing, right before my very eyes and this machine was at the heart of it.

It really wasn’t a piece of shit.  It was more like a friend.  I liked this bike.  I was having fun with it.  It was helping me make my world a Better Place.

What are friends for?

*********************************************

All things change and so would this.  That bike was a mountain bike.  It was meant to be ridden off-road and I was becoming more interested in road cycling.  I found a decent road bike, bought it and began riding that.  The mountain bike was once again set aside.  I was thinking about giving it to some needy kid when a friend, Josh, offered to buy it from me.  I needed some kit, so I took him up on his offer.

So now it’s Josh’s bike and I hope he can get a fraction of what I got from it.