The Red Bike (1988-2015)
A few days ago I wrote about my newly purchased bicycle. I'm excited about it and look forward to many years of riding it. But the change comes with a bit of sadness. I am giving up the bicycle that has has been part of my life for over 27 years, a bicycle that has given me much enjoyment all of those years. I figure I put about 11,500 miles on it. maybe even 12,000. Somewhere along the line the bike acquired a name, the Red Bike. It was heavy and clunky but was always good therapy for whatever mood I was in.
I bought the Red Bike, a Schwinn Sierra mountain bike, from a shop in Phoenix in January 1988. My first bike, purchased a year earlier, had just been stolen. The shop was next door to the veterinary ophthalmologist who was treating my aging dog. I walked into the shop after one visit, just looking. They offered me a deal I could not refuse and walked out with a new bike. I had already begun exploring Phoenix on my previous bike and fell right back into the rhythm of regular riding.
The Red Bike carried me all over Phoenix and its not-exactly-bike-friendly streets. We rode together through the mountain preserves, along the canals and the city's many neighborhoods, down Central Avenue, often well before sunrise to escape the heat and traffic. In Window Rock we traveled the loop to Fort Defiance--sometimes on to the plateau above--and outran dog packs more than once. The Red Bike sat quietly in storage while I spent two years on the road and was waiting for me when I returned to Phoenix in 2004. We rode maybe 1,000 miles by the time we moved to Olympia.
The Red Bike, circa 2010
Olympia is where we accumulated most of our miles. The Red Bike got fenders to cope with the wet weather and we were soon exploring our new home. Much of my understanding and feel for Olympia has been developed looking over the Red Bike's handlebars. Within a year I knew all of the main routes and had figured out enough variations to keep me happily riding year-round. Together we rode almost 8,400 miles since coming to Olympia. I marveled at the wonder of it all every time.
As much as I will enjoy my new bike, the Red Bike will always be part of any bicycle ride I take.
This past weekend, I donated the Red Bike to Community Build-A-Bike, a non-profit that recycles bicycles to new owners. I hope the Red Bike's next owner will find as much joy in riding it as I have.
The Passing, 28 June 2015