Saturday, July 24, 2010

Stay of Execution

We've all been down this road before: a job that's going to end, an inevitable break-up, a pending move and the teary good-byes that go along with it. My friend Jim named this condition Impending Doom Syndrome back when we were in high school and fretting over tests and swim meets. Two summers ago I impulsively bought a $5,000.00 mountain bike. There's a great story around it, but ultimately I bought a bike that was way beyond me and my skills. This spring I contemplated selling it. It took me until a week ago to work up the nerve to set it up on e-bay. Everyone close to me insisted that I don't let it go, but I was comfortable with my decision. In the description, I told the complete tale of how I came to own and love the bike thinking that the other prospective shoppers out there would appreciate it when they were debating laying out that kind of cash. Naturally, as soon as I hit 'post item' I regretted it.
In every new Gary Fisher bike catalog, Gary himself pens a piece in the opening pages. In the 2006 catalog, he wrote a bit entitled 'Does a Bike Have a Soul?' In it he refers to a bike as a machine intended for use. He says "If I put my soul in Gary Fisher bikes, there wouldn't be room for yours." Gary also talks about if he were to obtain a guitar played by Jimi Hendrix, he wouldn't hang it on a wall, he play it and try to eek out any of the mojo Jimi left in that instrument. This is the part that put me at peace with the decision to sell my Pro-cal that had once been ridden by the very man who penned that article. It's an awesome machine, to be sure. But I wasn't a part of it. I added personal touches like my favorite grips and pedals, but alas, I gave it no part of myself. I only rode it when it was dry so it wouldn't get dirty. I rode a different bike in spring when I wasn't in tip-top shape and much more likely to crash. I literally cared too much for this machine, yet didn't love it enough to treat it the way it deserved to be treated. How's that for ironic?
Yesterday afternoon the auction ended with the bike not selling. In spite of the fact over 240 people checked it out, no one bid on it. Now I'm faced with starting the process over. It took me the week to accept that in a few days time, I'd be mailing this piece of me to Colorado or Vermont or Oregon. Now it sits in my basement unsure of its future and I'm still out riding, living, and sweating on a different bike. Even if I rode more single- track, I don't think my choice of bikes would sway. Unless I sold my 'old faithful', I would still only use the Pro-Cal as my 'special occasion' bike. If I had money maybe I'd collect bikes. It would still go against Gary's philosophy of giving a bit of yourself to these art-like machines, but I could ride them all once in a while just to form a little bond between us.
As I get older I've accepted that I need to let go and lose a bunch of stuff. I've worked hard at letting go of physical as well as psychological baggage that there's no longer room for in my life. The nature course of that down-sizing would tell me that I don't need five bicycles. In the end its not which bike I chose to ride that matters, its that I do ride. Gary says it best, "I don't think bikes are sacred. But I know biking is." As long as I've got a bike to ride, I'm at peace. So... know anyone looking for a bike?