I had to get the previous post off my proverbial chest. I feel much, much better now. Now we can move on to the next of my series of bike posts, my college bike.
When I first got to college, I walked everywhere. I was a putz, a lowlife, a nobody. I was a freshman (or, in politically-correct speak, “first-year”). Those dark days ended when the Bike Co-op held their annual fall bike sale. The Bike Co-op was run entirely by students. They were located in the basement of a residence hall, and they had a proper bike repair shop as well as rooms for bikes. All you had to do was search around and you could find some real treasures for sale. The bikes they sold were refurbished, meaning you could probably ride them from your dorm to your class without all the gears falling off. The bonus was, if you joined the co-op, you had yearlong access to repair equipment. I ended up spending some time in that dark basement.
Back to the fall bike sale. I searched around and found a silver road bike for $25. It was spray-painted silver; I found out what boring color it had been before. I called it the Silver Stallion, which partly explains why I like that Cat Power song so much.
My life improved 1000% on that day. I could get everywhere quicker, meaning I could sleep a little longer in the morning and extend my afternoon naps in the library. I could explore the town, as well. My little college suddenly became a part of a greater world. I spent my first summer working at the school and took bike rides in the evenings.
In later years I didn’t stay at the college during the summer but I made sure to keep my bike somewhere safe. Sure enough, it was always there for me in the fall. It’s funny; I bought a cheap bike so I wouldn’t worry about it getting stolen, but I spent a lot of time and effort making sure I held onto it for all four years.
I’m kind of sad I didn’t take any pictures of my bike. By my senior year it was partly held together by duct tape. The handlebar pads were cracked and falling off, so I just wrapped some tape around them to give myself some sort of padding. The tape slowly unwound and looked really cool blowing in the wind as I rode. I also taped up the seat, as it was crumbling at a steady rate. Fortunately the duct tape matched the color of the bike. Yeah, I was pretty image-conscious.
I did sketch my bike quite a bit. On warm nights I’d sit beside where it was locked and draw in my sketchbook. I tried to restrain myself from patting it as you would a horse. The shapes I drew from that bike probably influence the way I draw my robots today.
The day before I graduated I donated Silver Stallion back to the Bike Co-op. My brother and I walked it back to where I had bought it four years previously. The Co-op had already closed for the year. There were rows of bikes chained together outside, waiting to be fixed up for next year’s batch of freshpersons (from the original Latin phrase meaning, “people who are fresh”). I leaned my bike against one of the rows. I stepped back and looked at it among its kind. It seemed so natural there and I knew this was the right thing to do. I couldn’t take it with me; where I was going, a college bike would not fare well. This was its home.
I didn’t cry for it then, but I think of it from time to time when I see someone riding a really crappy bike. I wonder if it is still being used, or if it was stripped down and used to repair future bikes. It’s the circle of life.
Next: the return of an old friend!