This is the first in a series of Bicycle Love Stories that have been submitted by readers and riders.
We met on Craigslist. I had looked at so many other shiny faces, with various reasons why they were newly single. Their past sig-o just didn’t have time, found out s/he had gotten someone pregnant and had to set “priorities”, found out they were moving to Burma. I got a little sad looking for you. So many people had tried to find love here and, in the end, just wanted to try to re-coup some of their “losses.” You were so blue in your picture, shiny and shared my interests in soul music and b-movies. Wait, that was someone else.
I called your ex-boyfriend’s wife about you. I didn’t have a car, so I asked if she could bring you over for our first date. She said yes, but only if I paid for the gas money. You showed up, with your original seat cover, disintegrating bar tape, and water bottle–all from 1987, the year you were born. Most people lose something of themselves over the course of two decades. I was in grad school at the time, and had trouble keeping track of my feet let alone my water bottle.
I thought it probably wouldn’t work out, but you were such a cheap date! The lady only wanted $85 for you. I’m ashamed to say now, Bessie, that I only took you home with me that night because I could afford you. But I didn’t know any better. Don’t hold it against me, okay?
I’d never been in a “real” relationship with a bicycle before. I’d dated hybrids casually, had a few close friendships with banana seats and 10 speeds in my youth, but I was looking for something more. I was ready for the real thing. I wanted to climb hills with you, not metaphorical ones, but the literal, San Diego variety. i wanted to travel with you, to other cities, other coasts. I wanted to fly with you, metaphorically this time, but almost literally, you moved so fast!
We had a rough start. I feared for my life a few times in our first two weeks together. Okay. 13 times. I almost died 13 times because I couldn’t control you. You were petite and nimble and made my body do things i didn’t know it could do. The cars, though, they moved like they always had–above the speed limit and with a lot of weight.
After the first two weeks, I knew I was in love. I could finally leave my neighborhood block again. I could go anywhere my friends were going. (They liked you, but only one or three really knew you). People tried to steal you away at the bike shop. You flirted, but you knew who lubed your chain at night. Okay, they lubed your chain, too, but we were very honest with each other on those occasions and it only strengthened our relationship in the end.
All of me was happy, even though there was less of me. My body shrunk while we were together. You introduced me and got me into two bike gangs. You took me to 7-11 dance-offs in hand-made costumes, from Los Angeles to San Diego in one long road-trip, to the beach when I was crying, and to the bar when I was happy. You took me to his house, too, but I don’t hold that against you. You just went where I asked.
When it was time to move to the east coast, I broke you apart (I’m sorry), flew you over, and then learned how to put you back together. I learned your body like no other’s. I’ve never taken apart another’s insides, breathed into their innards, or pulled shrapnel from their soft places. And even though you were no spring chicken, you never really asked for much. Others had come into my life by that time, and they were always making demands–buy me new wheels, get me a new derailleur! But not you. You wanted only to go somewhere. Anywhere. as long as it wasn’t gravel. But you would do gravel if you really had to. But we didn’t like to be on gravel, did we?
Breaking Up and Moving On
The day I broke up with you was one of the hardest days of my life. And I’m not saying that just for literary value. I shoved you back onto Craigslist, knowing that I couldn’t move you across the country again. There were just too many bikes. You weren’t “essential.” (I was wrong about that, but I didn’t know any better. Don’t hold it against me, okay?)
He came to pick you up. He was a hipster but I could tell he really liked riding, and really wanted a relationship, too. He wouldn’t try to change you into something you weren’t. He liked your gears. You two fit.
He handed me a wad of bills, and then rode away on your back. I watched him leave with you, then went inside to drink a beer and cry. Oh yes. I cried. I needed money for Spain, I was moving, I had done such a good job of coming up with all the reasons I had to let you go. But I didn’t know any better. Don’t hold it against me, okay?
Author Lexi lives in California for the moment and has ridden her bike up the California coast, through the mountains of Spain, in the streets of Manhattan, and to and from various bars, grocery stores, farmer’s markets and apartments. She enjoys biking along the beach, long bikerides by candlelight, and blogs at http://slickaphonic.wordpress.com.