Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bike of My Father

My dad was a man of many diverse interests, some of which he still receives recognition for postmortem. The Sculpture in the Park show this year was dedicated to him and the High Plains Art Council wrote a wonderful piece about his skill and long history with the largest sculpture show in the US.

Riding a bike, however, was something very different for him. He was into cycling like a fish is into swimming. It was just simply something he did, no clubs, no newspaper articles, and no matter what. I remember him riding his bike to and from work (6 mile round-trip) year round, in Colorado! He has owned countless bikes over his multiple decades of riding. 

I would get his old bikes after he rode them into the ground. I would then disassemble, paint , and rebuild them to make my own road bike. However, since moving to Washington 20 years ago I no longer got his old bikes. 

Well, a few days ago I received the last bike he ever rode, a Specialized Allez Elite. 

Technically not the last bike he owned. A few years back he retired the SAE and dropped some serious cash on an all carbon-fiber bike, which he rode despite being almost completely blind from macular degeneration and his body riddled with cancer. How he managed that, I'm still not sure. There came a time when even his strong-will could not keep him balanced on the bike. He reluctantly traded it in on a three-wheeled recumbent, which he rode nearly to his last day. 

This bike, the SAE, now standing proudly in my garage, represents the return to the old system: he rides, gives to me, and I rebuild into something of my own. That's what he wanted, that's why he gave it to me. The problem is that my sentimentality (which I have very little of) has bubbled to the surface, much to my surprise. I am contemplating the notion of hanging it in my garage next to my coffee roasting station and above two other cycling tokens that he left me: his ever-worn red Specialized cap and his Scottish Royal Coat of Arms inspired cycling jersey.

I wore the jersey for five rides (for his five sons) and then retired it forever. I can't bring myself to wear the hat, not sure why. But now that I have his bike I'm not sure I can ride it either; let alone dismantle, repaint and rebuild.

For now I think I will let it rest, peacefully.

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