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.
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.
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.
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.