Some hard knocks for my old friend

Poor Greenie‘s been showing her age lately.

The allure of a vintage cruiser has always won out for me over the light and sleek models that might get me to around town more efficiently and comfortably. With Greenie, I’ve always smiled with every bounce and rattle, and given her soothing reassurance every time one of her gears creaked or popped under who-knows-how-many years of strain. She is my old work-horse, and riding around with her rusty bolts and harmless (but noisy) loose fenders made me feel all the more connected to her, as if she were an abandoned puppy rescued from a shelter.

However, I guess I might have rescued an old dog on its last legs, as opposed to a puppy. Whereas a “young” bike might not mind being tossed in a yard during a hurried stop, I have to take care to gingerly prop Greenie up with her kickstand, lest she fall over and bend one of her old moving parts. However, sometimes, things happen, and a couple weeks ago she encountered the equivalent of an elderly dog taking a well-intentioned dive for a ball and breaking a hip. The next morning, when I went to take her back out again, her brake was bent so badly that the front wheel wouldn’t even move. After disassembling the brake I found that the bent piece was only the peg holding the mechanism onto the bike, and figured surely I could replace it. I took the part into some local bike shops and most looked at me, surrounded by their three-pound $1800 road bikes, like I was crazy — Why would we carry such ancient parts? What the heck are you riding?? I was quoted $50+ (for a bike I paid about the same amount for), and walked out dejectedly.

This is what a broken brake looks like. (It's also what greasy bike fingers look like...)

Eventually, I discovered what will hereby be referred to as my bike shop. The Denver Bicycle Café is a newer establishment here in Denver, catering to the wealth of urban bike riders that frequently flood the streets. Not only do they work on your bikes in a full-service shop, but they also serve rare microbrews and coffee drinks in an inviting and friendly atmosphere. Within only a couple days and for a fraction of what I was quoted at other shops, my bike had a brand new braking system and was all tuned up for St. Patrick’s Day riding. After sharing a beer with Anthony and basking in some sun on their patio, I rode Greenie home, with her feeling better than ever.

Unfortunately, however, this would not be the last of her problems.

We chose to ride our cruisers around town for the St. Patty’s festivities, as we had various plans all over the city, and knew cabs would be expensive — if not impossible to snag. The morning started off fine as we made the relatively long uphill climb to meet up with friends for breakfast and a very early start to the day. After breakfast (still prior to 8am!) we were all making our way to a downtown bar to be the first to claim our spots on their sunny patio to watch the parade. I was feeling smug as I watched all of our friends piling into a taxi van, and we were able to zoom off on our adorable bikes.

My smugness vanished, however, as we all met back up at the front door of the bar and I realized that I had forgotten my ID in my workout pants the day before. I confidently hopped back on my bike to run home and grab it, promising to be back in 30 minutes while they all grabbed their first round of drinks. As you can probably predict, this is where the real problems began…

As I was gliding down to the creek trail, a route I take on a daily basis to and from work, a large stick came out of nowhere and got itself tangled in my spokes. I recognized it immediately and came to a gentle stop (thanks, new brakes!), but realized that the damage had already been done. Somehow, this seemingly harmless chunk of tree had ripped a quarter of the spokes out of my precious cruiser’s fragile old front wheel, and they were splayed out like an overused toothbrush.


The depths of my sadness at that point cannot be conveyed fully. I knew that this was an injury from which Greenie would not make an easy recovery, as I couldn’t even walk her back to our house due to the mangled mess of her tire. I grudgingly locked her up to a nearby rack and took the train back to our house to retrieve my ID. Fortunately, there was still a whole day of fun to be had, otherwise I might have just stayed home and wallowed in my cruiser-less misery. Instead, with insistence from Anthony and our friends, I retrieved my mountain bike (who still remains nameless) from the garage and was back out with my friends in a matter of minutes, and managed to have a full day of enjoyment in spite of my old friend’s morning demise.

To date, Greenie remains regrettably locked in that park downtown, which just so happens to be on my work route. I feel pangs of guilt as I ride past her on the unnamed mountain bike and try to avoid glimpses of her unused basket and silent bell.

This photo breaks my heart.

I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a bit of ease in riding a newer, more forgiving model around the streets of Denver while I decide Greenie’s fate. The fancy shocks on the front of the mountain bike absorb the bumps and potholes of our city’s unkempt blacktop, and it’s difficult to deny the ease with which I’m able to switch into the multitude of different gears for the various hills and valleys I encounter daily. However smooth my commute may be in comparison, though, I have an unshakable feeling that my pleasant relationship with the mountain bike will not last. I am no longer able to make use of my beloved basket to fill with random grocery stop finds or extras needed for work, and must pare down the amount of “luggage” I bring with me at any one time, always carrying a backpack filled to the brim with essentials. Aesthetically, I feel like my “look” has gone from European-easy-breezy-girl to Colorado-adventurer overnight (a change I was not looking to make), and my usual skirts-and-tights commuting ensemble is no longer cute nor practical on this new ride.

Newer and shinier, but just not the same.

Right now, I feel like I only have a few options (none of which, I’d like to note, involve scrapping bicycling altogether as a means of transportation):

1.) I can keep riding the mountain bike and get used to a non-cruiser lifestyle. (Please note that I am incredibly thankful to have a back-up bike — even if it, too, was a “rescue” that I received for free!)

2.) I can move the bells, whistles and basket from Greenie, name the mountain bike something like Lucille, and try to convince myself — and everyone who encounters me — that it’s just a fancy version of my old model. (Assuming the basket will fit on the newer bike, which I haven’t confirmed)

3.) I can repair Greenie for the umpteenth time (officially bringing her worth up quite significantly from the original purchase price).

4.) Search Craigslist for a Greenie-replacement. If I could find an old rickety dame on there once, I’m sure I could discover a new vintage cruiser to love.

What do you think? Which option makes the most sense? Because at this point my bank account and common sense are working hard at convincing me of a reasonable choice, but my heart has already decided on a clear winner.

One thought on “Some hard knocks for my old friend

  1. I’m thinking you should ride the unnamed mountain bike (for obvious safety reasons)…but search pinterest for a cool way to turn Greenie into a “forever piece of art” for your home! 🙂

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