Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Parting is such sweet sorrow - goodbye, trusty Bike.
Another thing that happened in Brighton was I gave up my bike. She didn't have a name - I just called her Bike - but she was definitely a lady and a graceful one at that. I acquired her back back back during my first tour of New York, free from a newcomer to the city who posted her on Craigslist. I went all the way up to Inwood to pick her up and rode her home and never looked back.
We had such adventures, Bike and I. We rode in countless Critical Mass rides, we cycled over the Brooklyn Bridge, we traveled a daily commute from Fairmount to the Zoo in Philadelphia, we got doored by a cab in Fort Greene, and we made the ultimate trip together over the Atlantic. She traveled in steerage, thrown in the belly of the plane with the other luggage, and I wasn't sure she'd make it. But when I got to baggage claim the next morning, there she was propped against a pillar. She accompanied me around London during my first weekend here when I knew no one - she was my only friend and my trusty companion.
But lately, Bike's been a little worse for wear. She lived outside for many a winter and her chain had been described by someone as looking positively Victorian. Her basket has always been dented but has recently looked even more so and her front end was really wobbly. She got really rusty, and her gears didn't shift the way they used to. One day this spring I walked outside to see she'd been spray painted by vandals! A few bike geeks at work would mock her, but then took pity on me and gave her a bit of a tune up; gently, though, they told me there wasn't much that could be done.
I knew all this but stubbornly kept riding Bike. She and I had been through so much together, I couldn't just cast her aside. So I figured that one last big ride together, one last epic voyage, would be it. I would ride her to Brighton and then find someplace to donate her so she could start the next part of her life.
Let me tell you - bike donation is a hard thing to find in Brighton. A few places accepted them to fix them up and sell on, but no one was around on Sunday. I asked in a few charity shops if they would take her, but most said no because if the brakes didn't work they'd be liable. Shocking! I was so upset that not only was I giving up Bike, BUT NO ONE WANTED HER. Finally, the good people at The Sussex Beacon charity shop took her in. Hopefully her sale will help some people with HIV/AIDS, and she'll find someone who can fix her up and give her a new lease on life.
I won't lie - I walked away from handing Bike over to the shop attendant in tears. It was so emotional, cycling 60 miles to the coast on my trusty steed only to then leave her to a secondhand shop. But it's for the best, and I know in my heart that some spunky, sassy shorthaired university student will pop into the shop, see Bike, and it will be love at first sight. I hope they'll have many happy adventures together.
As for me, I have a new bike but I'm not yet ready to ride her. Both physically and emotionally (sore butt and all). I'll post her debut soon, but, until then, in honor of Bike, go outside and give your bike bell a ding for her.