hand-me-down

This is my dad’s bike:

He bought it… oh, maybe 11 or so years ago, I think when I was just out of high school but maybe even before then. It was a sweet bike for him: super plush with the springs on its seat and shocks on the front fork, upright posture, strap-on fender (it works when you’re not in Portland and it doesn’t actually rain). I remember him biking the heck out of the American River bike trail, recording how far he’d gone and “racing” my brother, who was also still in Sacramento at the time, to see who could bike more miles. I probably still have emails from him detailing his rides.

After he died, the bike sat around in my mom’s garage until she started riding it. She only lives a mile and a half or so from work, so sometimes it was a commuter bike, sometimes it was an exercise bike, but either way, it was a lot nicer than the super-tank-heavy road bike she still had.

Of course, mom’s long since bought a newer, nicer, more suited-to-her bike, but this one still sits in her garage, unused until I show up in Sacramento, pump up the tires again, and take it out for a spin (most often to go hang out with my grandma:)  Compared to my road bike in Portland, it’s like riding an old-school cadillac or something. I feel a little ridiculous on it, sitting all upright super plush style, feeling like the bike absorbs most of my effort with the shocks and springs. And compared to my speedy, razor-thin tires, the two and a half inch suckers on this steed make me feel invincible, like I could ride over a river of broken glass and still come out pedaling on the other side.

It’s funny, though, to ride my dad’s bike. It’s funny to think of him riding it for exercise and the fun of going fast, since now it feels almost prehistoric, hopelessly slow for anything but a leisurely cruise to the store (or Grammy’s:) I guess more than anything, though, it’s funny to feel that as my dad’s old bike, one of the few remaining tangible artifacts of his life, it should hold more significance to me somehow–but honestly, it just feels like a bike. A slow, heavy, tank of a bike that I ride when I’m in Sacramento. I’m not sure if that makes me sad or if it’s just how things go. I’m glad for the connection, and when (and if) this bike finally self-destructs, I’ll probably miss it. And honestly, I guess I’m kind of lying. Even though I talk shit about it, I kind of love this bike. But it is, ultimately, a bike, and it’s the memories of my dad, not the objects wrapped up in those memories, that I care about.

But yeah. That’s my dad’s bike. And now, for the few days a year that I’m in Sacramento, it’s mine.

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