I finally sold my old road bicycle.
For most folks, that probably doesn’t sound like that big a deal. After all, it was just cluttering up the garage, not getting much use. Why not make a few bucks?
I’m a little different than most folks, though, as I tend to form an emotional bond with my gear. Now, I don’t name things, like some people name their cars — that’s just weird — but I would say that I tend to think of some things as part of the family, kind of like a dog or maybe a child. Indeed, there are days when choosing between a certain piece of equipment or a certain child is a pretty difficult decision.
And I tend to invest a lot in my equipment. I always buy the best I can afford, which is to say that I buy the most expensive item I think I can get away with without getting myself into the doghouse when the credit card bill shows up.
And I spend a lot of time taking care of my stuff after I get it — cleaning chainrings with a toothbrush, for example — so I really get to know my gear.
I actually got the bike as a birthday present when I was in eighth grade. (I turn 39 in a couple of weeks, so for those doing the math, that was 1980-something.) I’m sure I’ve put thousands of miles on that bike since then. It was my main mode of transportation throughout high school, getting me to practices, rehearsals, friends’ homes, or wherever else I wanted to go. I rode quite a bit even after I got my driver’s license — a combination of a couple speeding tickets and report cards that came home with comments like “Will would have an ‘A’ if he turned in any of his homework” for some reason resulted in suspension of driving privileges. (Note to students who aren’t turning in their homework: Asking someone out on a date is extremely awkward if you also have to ask if they can drive.)
I never outgrew the bike. My parents picked out a large frame for me because at the time, I was growing six inches a year. They figured that if I kept going, that frame would end up being just right. Unfortunately, that turned out to be the end of my growth spurt (I grew less than an inch after that), so I have always just barely fit on it. Still, when the Unity Trail bike path was completed a few years back, I asked my parents to ship it up to Alaska — which they did, though my dad pointed out that between the cost of a tune-up, new tires and shipping, I could probably get something new.
But, like I said, had an emotional attachment to that bike in particular — new just wouldn’t do. I would’ve felt like I was cheating on a bike that had been so faithful to me.
Times do change, though, and a couple years ago I got a new road bike, which left me wondering what to do with the old one. I’ve loaned it out (or more accurately, my wife has loaned it out) to people to use for a first triathlon, or some other sporting pursuit, but because of its frame size, there aren’t a whole lot of people who would be comfortable on it. I asked my son, who is in middle school and growing faster than I did, if I should hang onto it for him. “Uh, Dad, it’s from the 80s,” was his reply; “gag me with a spoon” was most definitely implied.
So, rather than leave it collecting dust in the garage, I went ahead and dropped it off at the Kenai Central High School ski team’s gear swap last month. I wouldn’t have been surprised to have to pick it up again at the end of the day — after all, the market for vintage road bicycles with oversized frames can’t be too big, can it?
But that person apparently did come along. So to that person, whoever you are, enjoy the ride.
And if you get a moment, please give my old bike — your bike, now — a hug for me.
That’s not too weird, is it?
Clarion editor Will Morrow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.