Last week saw me uttering a bittersweet goodbye to my dear, old friend, and finally ripping off the band-aid, once and for all.
First, let’s back up about a month, when I was riding home blissfully on a hot Denver evening, carefully holding Greenie’s handlebar shifter in place to prevent it from inevitably falling into high gear and slowing me to a snail’s pace. Traveling down a slight hill, I hit a minor bump and subsequently heard a loud pop, which I also felt like a small flick in my right buttcheek. I did a quick safety check of the bike and couldn’t find anything wrong, and hoped that I had only been hit with some creekside debris. However, as I continued on my route home, I would continue to hear the popping sound beneath my seat every minute or so.
Once I got home, I confirmed that something was wrong, and that a spring had snapped inside my 50+ year-old cruiser’s original seat. This is not surprising, as I had often grabbed the seat of the bike as a sort of handle when lifting the heavy steel frame from my porch in my hasty morning commute.
While the bike was still perfectly safe to ride, this most recent injury was not one I’d be able to look past forever, and was now added to the growing list of repairs that needed to be made to maintain my vintage lady. The shifter had obviously become an issue, the pedals were needing to be replaced before their sharp edges resembled weaponry any further, the several falls I experienced this summer could easily be attributed to the worn tires that tended to find themselves lodged into cracks in the road, and now the cute white seat that gave Greenie so much personality would most likely need to be swapped out for something new. Little by little, my vintage bike, with so much character, was becoming a bionic woman, and an expensive one, at that. Perhaps an ancient cruiser is not the most practical daily commuting device, and I may have been guilty of running her into the ground well past her golden years.
I made the tough decision to forego the rest of the costly repairs, and instead invest the money into a brand-new bike with a service plan. My new bike, Penelope, is certainly adorable (my favorite colors of yellow and blue), but I do not feel the same kind of kinship yet as I did with Greenie. I know this will come with time, and I definitely enjoy my safer and smoother (7 speeds!) commute, but even after I had committed to this new sidekick, I still felt a pang of remorse as I saw my lifeless old cruiser chained to the house like a neglected old mare.
Eventually, Greenie’s new best friend appeared at my doorstep, with cash in hand as specified from my wistful Craigslist ad. I learned that she had just sold her own vintage cruiser, a “boy bike” that was too heavy for her. Miraculously, my cruiser actually seemed “lightweight” in comparison with her previous ride, and she nodded optimistically as I pointed out my former bike’s flaws. She saw the broken and neglected parts as “totally fixable” and gave her a quick test ride around the block before agreeing to my price. She handed over her cash happily, and asked if the bike had a name.
“Greenie,” I said with a smile. “But you can feel free to re-name her — she’ll answer to anything.”
“Well my last bike was named Dorothy, but I never thought that fit,” she said, giving her new prize another once-over. “I think this is Dorothy.”
And with an all-too-familiar excitement, she hopped on Greenie-turned-Dorothy, and rode away, her flowing skirt billowing behind her.
Clearly, I’d found a perfect match for my old friend, and watched as she turned the corner to a whole new set of adventures.