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bike & wheels

By 10:55 PM , ,


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Originally uploaded by looseid


Rust juice spilled out of the screw holes as I lifted the bike up. It was a color I've never seen in a liquid. Maybe the closest being Thai iced tea but more opaque. This is a telltale sign of neglect.

Over the years two ambitious friends have volunteered to bring this bike back to life. They are bona fide bike nerds. They pick up abandoned bikes and tinker night and day on them with orphaned parts and pieces. It's the grown-man version of the cardbox box of kittens. Their enthusiasm for enlisting my poor bike as a project was absolutely genuine; but nothing ever became of it. I know first hand that they both lead busy lives, and I didn't want the burden of adding to that, or furthermore carry the hope that it might actually happen.

I loved this bike, the early years. I rode it everywhere. I rode it in Critical Mass right when it started and I used to zig and zag through SOMA streets when it was bike lane free and dangerous. Now it's overrun with cyclists and drivers; it's scarier than ever. Back then I also lived at the bottom of a hill. Things changed when I moved into a house at the top of the hill. A very large hill. One of the tallest hills in San Francisco. Did I mention it's a big ass hill.

Forget riding it, walking it was all I could give. And even after cresting the hill, I still had to climb two flights of stairs with it when I got home, 'cause you can't leave the bike on the sidewalk; I'd never see it again, lock or no lock. I gave it a good run in the beginning. But after continual heart flutters, I relented that my GT was no longer a viable mode of transport. That was 1996.

I was about to have it picked up as big garbage next week, when I learned of the Bike Kitchen. I pulled into the parking spot that evening, very reluctant to walk into a warehouse full of cycling aficionados with a hemmhoraging mountain bike in tow. If you're operating a business on volunteers alone, you know they're there for the love of bikes and will be more than happy to judge you on your abhorrent delinquency.

As is often the case, when you're consumed with what people might think of you, you're faced with the reality that nobody gives a damn. The guy working the counter asked me what type of bike I had.

"GT, hybrid.", I said with uncertainty.

"Okay, bring it in, I'm sure there's something we can salvage." His name tag read ART, maybe his name, may be his department. Art was surprisingly hopeful.

"It's really thrashed." I shook my head sideways as if to say, run the other way.

"Let's look at it." Still no judgement.

No amount of discouragement was working. I had to bring in that disgraceful ride into this Santa's Workshop for the anti-Schwinn elves.

I opened up the tailgate and by now the poor thing was soaking in its own excrement. I walked slowly behind a fancy couple with an equally fancy Cannondale as their steed. I, on the other hand, was carrying in my arms the bullet riddled body of a ride-by shooting. I was dripping a trail of orange blood across the courtyard. Walk of shame, for sure.

I deposited the bike in front of the counter and looked at Art, as if to say "see for yourself." And before I could start making excuses, some volunteer appeared out of nowhere and started road testing it. Art looked at him and looked at me and said "well, it looks like we'll be able to resurrect it."

And the guy handling the bike agreed. "It'll take a lot of work, but it'll be a good project."
I was so glad.

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I also called Eddie's wheels earlier today. It's been exactly a month since I got Bibi her wheels. Now that she won't be needing them, I wanted another German Shepherd to have them as soon as possible. They have a page on their site that lists gently used wheels for one month. If there are no takers after a month, you're on your own. We both offloaded rides that no longer fit into our lives, but perhaps into others.

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