…a love letter to my bike
It’s probably been a decade now since Aberdeen Bike owner Mike Casey talked me out of buying a new bike. I still can’t thank him enough.
See, I have this old blue road bike. I have no idea how old it is; I only know that it came into my life back in the early 1990s and it was already “reconditioned” when I bought it from a bike shop guy at Holt Pro Cyclery. It was his project bike – a steel frame Fuji he’d had custom painted.
My limited research in that pre-internet age told me it had pretty decent components, although that mattered less to me than the way it rode – which was so beautiful it almost made me feel guilty. I “commuted” around MSU’s campus on an old beater of a mountain bike, but when I wanted to get away I’d wheel the blue bike out…
and head for the long stretches of uninterrupted blacktop south of town, flying past barns and fields on those skinny tires. The blue bike was with me when I took my first job in northern Indiana, where – homesick as hell – I could pedal five minutes out of the heart of Fort Wayne and be flying once again through flat, wide-open farmland. It made a tough transition just a little easier.
But when I moved to Chelsea – with a “grown-up” life to start – I rode less and less, until eventually the bike just moved from one storage space to the next. Then I’d tuck the blue bike away on the porch or hang it in the garage, look wistfully at it now and then as years went by and hobbies changed and my family grew.
Finally, when my kids were old enough to tow around in a bike trailer, I took the blue bike to Aberdeen, sighed a deep, pained sigh and told Mike I wanted to sell it and buy a mountain bike.
“You don’t want to sell that bike,” Mike said.
Well, I couldn’t argue with that. But I needed something more practical, something I could ride over railroad tracks without popping the tires. Mike suggested tweaking the blue bike. He added slightly beefier tires and upright handlebars, and next thing you know this bike I loved to ride had once again become exactly the bike I needed. I could ride to school with the kids, send them in and then find the longest possible route home just to ride a little longer.
My calendar year has two seasons: I-can-ride-the-bike and I-can’t-ride-the-bike. It was an awful long “Can’t” this year. Sure is nice to be running around on the bike again.
It’s been a lot of years, but I still use the blue bike all the time – maybe more than ever. It still flies. I still feel, when I ride it, like I’m probably having more fun than I deserve. And I still look for the longest route home.