The lives of a bike

May 31, 2017 § 42 Comments

I met a friend yesterday for lunch. He was one of those friends who I somehow know even though he doesn’t cycle or have anything to do with cycling. It’s surreal to have conversations with people who don’t ride, if only because eventually the conversation gets ’round to … cycling.

He told me about his brother, who recently got into cycling. “My brother, he is crazy for biking,” my friend said.

“Really?” I asked, hoping against hope that we would talk about the weather, politics, home improvement, dirty laundry, anything but cycling.

“Yeah, it’s really weird. Like, he rides all the time.”


“Yeah, huge distances, races and stuff. One time he rode a hundred miles.”


“Incredible, huh? And he did it in one day.”

“A whole day?”

“I couldn’t believe it, either. And his bike cost a fortune, man.”


“More than a car. I mean not really, but ten grand, easy.”


“I shit you not. And his isn’t even the most expensive bike out there.”


“Sky is the limit. You can spend twenty grand on a bicycle. Can you believe that? Twenty grand on a bicycle.”


“The world has gotten crazy, man. How about your bike? Is it one of those crazy expensive ones, too?”

“Not that expensive. Not cheap, but not ten grand or even close to it.”

“Yeah, he’s gone overboard. But you know what?”


“He’s lost a ton of weight. And that bike is a hell of a lot cheaper than a day in the hospital.”


“I mean it’s crazy. He’s down seventy pounds. In one year. Can you believe that?”


“He looks like you.”


“It’s crazy. You know I run and try to stay fit but I wish I could lose fifty pounds. It’s hard, man. Crazy hard.” He squeezed his gut with a wry laugh. “You biker dudes are all so fucking skinny. But it’s crazy, how expensive the gear is. It didn’t used to be like that, man.”

“No, it didn’t.”

“You know, I used to ride a bike.”


“Yeah, when I was in college. I got a racing bike, actually, a Bianchi. You know it?”

“Was it green by any chance?”

“It was! How’d you know that?”

“Lucky guess.”

“Yeah, it was a beautiful bike. I loved that bike. I rode it everywhere. It was so comfortable. And fast. Beautiful chrome parts.”

“I bet. Those were nice bikes.”

“But it’s nothing like the new ones. It only cost $700, which was a lot of money in 1988. You couldn’t buy any kind of bike now for $700. But I loved riding that bike, man.”

“Why’d you stop?”

“You ever try to pick up a chick on a bike?”

I didn’t say anything.

“It just wasn’t cool after I graduated. I got a car and a job and that was pretty much that. You know, you’re young and you think you’ll get back to it some day, and you never do. Then you get out of shape and it’s distant dream. But I loved that bike, man.”

“What happened to it?”

“I’ve still got it hanging in my garage. It’s in perfect condition.”


“That’s what got my brother started a couple of years ago. He came over and asked could he borrow it and I was like, ‘Sure, take it, man,’ and a year later he brings it back, all tuned up and shiny and new tires and everything and is like, ‘Thanks, I’m getting one for myself now,’ and so I hung it back up. His new bike, man, it’s fancy. He had to buy all new clothes, he lost so much weight.”

“You ever think about getting back on it?”

“All the time, man. Every day. But I’m so fucking out of shape I couldn’t hardly make it down the block. And I live on a really hilly street. Plus that bike is so old.”

“It worked for your brother, didn’t it?”

“You know, you’re right. And he was fatter than I am, man.”

“Those old bikes are so comfortable and smooth. And they ride great. Some people prefer them to the new stuff.”

“No shit? Even with the shifters? You gotta reach down to change the gears, man. Nowadays it’s all on the handlebars. I’d feel kind of uncool, you know? Riding an old bike like that.”

“You show up on that thing and people will admire the hell out of it. Those bikes have class and style.”


“Really. Like dropping your kid off at school in a ’66 Corvette.”

“When I get home can I send you a picture of it? You can tell me if you think it’s okay to ride.”

“Sure. But it worked for your brother. It’ll work for you. It’s waiting to save your life. That’s what it lives for.”

I got back to the office and a few hours later the picture had arrived.




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