Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Saying Goodbye to a Bike [Lexi: "Finally!"]


One last ride
I've never been good at parting with things.  It's probably good that my parents never let me have a dog. If they did, not only would they have to explain that Spot, in his old age, needed to move to a "farm" where he could run free and play with other dogs, but they would also need to convince my heightened sense of empathy that Spot enjoyed his time with me and I should be satisfied that this moment was the best moment for us to part ways.  That saturated sentimentality overwhelmed me on May 2nd when turning the crank one last time on my Specialized Allez road bike.  Unlike most of my co-workers who seem to "upgrade" every few years, I have a tendency to treat bikes (and skis) like Warren Jeffs treats wives-- just because you get a new one doesn't mean you need to get rid of the old one.  So, because of that inability to let go, the Allez was one of four bikes that I owned, but because of it's condition, taking it for a 20 miles loop south through Holladay and back around on Wasatch Blvd. was a rare event.  Of my four bikes, I really only rode two of them (my Scott road bike and hard tail mountain bike) regularly.  To further illustrate my affinity for collecting bikes, I would probably have five if some savage hadn't stole the Specialized Hard Rock I owned since high school from my apartment in Twin Falls 8 years ago... that thief probably did me-- and more importatnly my wife-- a favor.  Anyway, the two older "sister-wives" in my collection of bikes were my mango colored Specialized FSR mountain bike, which hangs in our storage unit waiting for some inspired transformation into a piece of art because I think it just looks too damn cool to dump (although I still entertain thoughts of rebuilding it) and the a for mentioned Allez, which I occasionally commuted on.  However, with a new cyclocross bike on the way, even I couldn't ignore the fact that it was time for this bike to go.  So I thought it best to get her out of the house before her younger replacement came in.  I didn't want to see the hurt look in my old bike's eye (or head tube I guess) when I wheeled in the new girl replete with her nice firm brakes that react with the gentlest of squeezes, perky derailleurs that jump right into place with each shift, tightly wrapped handlebar tape with the right amount of cushion and of course, an immaculate bottom bracket.  [You think cars are the only thing that can be used for sexual metaphor?  Let's hear Led Zeppelin write a song outta that!]

I wish I could have ridden my Allez a little further than the 20 miles I ended up doing that day.  With my knee still trying to recover from surgery in January, it's been hard for me to push it in the saddle.  I entertained a thought of heading to the mouth of Little Cottonwood (with the front derailleur broken there was no way I was climbing UP that canyon), but even that seemed like more than I could do and I settled for the loop which took me to the mouth of Big.  During that spin, I thought of all the amazing rides we had shared.  There was the time, when I lived in Idaho, where, on a whim, I rode an out-and-back to Magic Mountain in the south hills.  I felt good when I got to the mouth of the canyon and decided to keep going.  Once I got so far along, it seemed stupid to turn back without going all the way.  I ended up riding about 80 miles that day and when I reached the turn back point at the base of this really minor ski hill in southern Idaho, I stopped in the small lodge to grab a drink and Snickers bar.  There, one of the Idaho natives, a man more accustomed to ATVs than bicycles asked where I came from.  "Rode here from Twin Falls," I replied." It looks like you fell out of a plane?!" he retorted in a manner like he thought my intelligence was more questionable than my shorts, but I didn't care.  That day summed up my early days of riding; as long as I could keep turning the pedals on that Allez and was having fun, I wasn't going to stop.  That attitude--and that bike-- got me from Ketchum to Galena Summit where I earned one of the most spectacular views I've ever seen.  It got me through my one (and to this date) only road race where I got dropped from the peloton in the opening miles.  It helped me get back on the bike after a horrible crash near the Snake River canyon just outside of Buhl that gave me a hole in my knee, road rash everywhere and eventually a blood clot in my leg.  And most amazingly, it got me through the Tour de Park City, where I suffered like never before on the climb up the Mirror Lake Highway only to wonder if my bike would hold together as I white knuckled the drops on the descent; both of us rattling and shaking like a space capsule in reentry.
Taking the Allez to the SL Bike Co-op AKA a "farm in the country"
 I thought about all those things during this farewell ride, but mostly, I thought about how, when I bought this bike, cycling truly became a part of my life, a routine that seemed to predicate each day not with "Would I ride?", but "Where should I ride?" and out the door I would go, usually south from my apartment in Twin Falls, out on the "grid" where I had flat, straight farm roads with barely a hint of traffic and could get my fix of a 25 mile ride in just over an hour.

Even with my methodical documentation, the miles I've ridden on that bike aren't worth noting here, it's the memories.  In the 12 years we were together, I think I exceeded expectations for the miles someone could get out of a mid-level road bike and I certainly exceeded the memories.  And even though I'd like to think someone picked her up at the bicycle collective and is out there enjoying biking the way I did, chances are that's not the case.  12 years is a long time on a bike and most likely she was either used for parts or used for some guy with a DUI who now needs a mode of transportation, either way, that doesn't change the time spent in the saddle and I'm satisfied it was the best moment for us to part ways.

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