A Bicycle and Me: a Story of Star-Crossed Lovers

I committed a major lifestyle sin early last summer. I fell in love with an object. Not very zen of me, I know. But sometimes I just get to pining — for bicycles, mostly.

As a matter of course, I don’t hit on people much. But I’ve found myself giving creepy compliments out loud to strangers’ bicycles locked up outside of grocery stores. Sometimes it turns out that the owners are nearby. Lucky for me, I’m not very intimidating, and no one has yet thought me a potential theif.

Last summer, I was just getting in to bikes. I was camping Craigslist for my Male Compatriot, looking for an 80s Cannondale he could ride to class, when I saw it:

“Nice lugged road bike, excellent condition, $80”

I figured it couldn’t hurt to click. And that was it. I needed that bike.

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Love at first sight.

It didn’t matter that I was unemployed. It didn’t matter that I was broke. I needed that bike. It was incredibly inexpensive, I rationalized to myself and Male Compatriot. And if it was in good condition, it would make good financial sense to purchase it.

And it was in great condition — even without my love blinders, I could see that it was in fantastic shape. One problem, though. A problem that every financial advisor, self-help or money management blog, or concerned parent will tell you is an immediate no-no. It didn’t fit.

The bike is huge.

I bought it anyway.

Its last rider was a 6’3″ male. I didn’t care. It has beautiful lugs, it’s orange, chromed under the paint, all the components are vintage Dura-Ace, the cogs still have all their teeth… I threw all financial and philosophical advice about attachment to ill-fitting objects out the window and bought it anyway.

And then I didn’t want to sell it. Nevermind that I did my best not to mount in front of anyone, since I had to get the bike rolling and hop onto it to go anywhere. Nevermind that stopping in traffic was all but impossible. When I was on the bike, it felt absolutely perfect.

So I ignored the warning signs of a bad relationship — the frequent slow-speed crashes as I mistimed my mounting and fell ungracefully to the ground. The fact that I couldn’t use it nearly as often as I liked, and it sat in the garage day after day, month after month, only being taken out for long-distance highway rides in perfect weather.

I didn’t want to sell it, either. I would put it up on Craigslist at an exorbitant price every once in a while to appease the Male Compatriot, but I never replied to any emails. I loved that bike with all the ferocity of a dragon hoarding some precious thing that wasn’t even meant for dragons.

Fear not, though — this story has a happy ending.

Surprised? So was Male Compatriot. I know he thought my attachment to the bicycle was absolutely insane. But I prefer to think of it as patience and passion.

I finally put it up for a reasonable price, went through my normal routine of not responding to anyone, even though I bought a better-sized road bike that I am equally in love with, when someone emailed me:

“I’ve seen this bike on Craigslist many times, and I’ve found myself pining for it. I’m so glad it’s available.”

In that instant, I knew I had to let the Sutton go. He was so excited when he came to pick it up, talking about his plans, and the Sutton racer he’d had in the past — it was the right choice.

The moral of the story? It’s ok to get attached to things sometimes. We strive for simplicity, to not get too worked up about things, especially inanimate things. But sometimes human emotion sweeps all that philosophy away, and that’s ok.

I repeat: I know that’s not very zen of me. But, despite the ultimate unworkability of the Sutton, it gave me a year of great rides and a surprising amount of joy. I made it work, albeit imperfectly, I found a new bike to love once I had some money, and in the end recouped more than twice my initial investment and was able to pass that joy on to someone else. Wins all around.

Sometimes, you just gotta let your restraint go. Not often, of course. But if you know in your heart that you are in love, be open to it, even if it seems silly to other people.

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The blue bike is the right size. I told you – that Sutton’s a beast.

I’m going to miss that bike, though.

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