It doesn’t have a name, or a gender. If you’re around campus you may know it as the blue Centurion LeMans waiting for me outside Thompson, missing some of the foam padding that came with the seat, the handlebars mostly bare metal at this point, the derailleur bent out of shape from being dropped too many times, with broken baskets for my feet and, if you look closely, two spokes on the rear wheel popped loose. I’m working on getting these things fixed.
The seat (mostly unnecessary anyway):
It was only recently, when I started racing cyclocross, that I got into the habit of standing up when pedaling up a hill. Or at any time. My new trick is standing up without holding on to the handlebars, which only works on a downhill or briefly on a flat.
The handlebars (grab life by them):
When I woke up this morning it was dark, I mean inky middle-of-the-night dark, which I am getting used to on my early Friday mornings. It has been so cold these last few days that I was tempted for a moment to drive the five blocks to the SUB, before realizing that my boyfriend’s car was covered in frost and it seemed like too much trouble to scrape. Instead, I got my bike from the garage. As I was wheeling it out, I noticed something strange. Stars. Bright stars, shining in close proximity to a half moon. The frigid clear air made their light so piercing that I woke up out of my zombie state to say good morning to them. And I pedaled to work, holding my back light behind me and looking over my shoulder at the moon, and I was the only person on the street, the only person in the world to observe the hidden treasure of an early morning skyscape. By the time I reached my destination, the hand on my handlebar felt frozen on, a claw that I could hardly unclasp from the icy metal.
The baskets (make a little noise):
I bike around campus a lot, end when I round the corners my foot baskets tend to graze the ground, because they’ve devolved from baskethood to pieces of metal that are tied to what should be the pedals on my bike. They’re good for alerting pedestrians, who dart glances at me to find the source of that ungodly noise.
The rear wheel (heading in a different direction):
I went in to get my wheels tightened and trued at the bike shop on campus, only to find that Friday afternoons are apparently a rush time for them. I curled up on a couch with a friend who happened to be there and watched Daniel fix someone else’s bicycle for about an hour, before telling me that he would stay late to fix mine. I tried to protest but he insisted, lifting it with care to the operating table, by which I mean the clamp that holds the bike in the air (I’m really bad with these terms). I told him about the bike’s significance, how it’s my first road bike, salvaged from a garage sale, used to commute to work and school from high school onwards. How it took me from Seattle to Portland with my four siblings and brother-in-law during the 2011 STP. How it doesn’t have a name, but its value to me is far higher than whatever someone would pay for it, and so I’m going to go on fixing it and keeping it alive as long as I possibly can. He nodded, understanding, and made it rideable once again.
The gears (clicking into place):
When I came home this afternoon, after hours of work and class and homework and play, the sky was a hazy shade of winter. Not as striking as the stars in the morning, not a spectacular vision of colors, it was just enough of a sunset to ride off into on a broken-down bike like mine.