(By Kelly Pope)
We make a lot of jokes about “that guy.” You know, that guy. That guy who is a little over the top, that guy who just looks silly. We all know that guy. I never wanted to be that guy, and even though I love my bike, I have a feeling that when I go home, my bike alone is going to make me out to be “that guy.”
My bike is pretty old. I have no idea how old. It was most likely donated to the cooperative bike shop near the house I lived in, in Chicago. It’s the first big thing I bought and paid for, aside from rent and food, with my own income. I’m not really a gear head, I don’t know how much it weighs, and I don’t even know how I could ever find out what it’s made of. Steel? Aluminum? Wrought iron? Dreams?
It’s dark red in color, and my roommate was trying to get rid of some things, so I have a bright yellow bottle cage. My lock that I’ve had ever since I started riding my bike to school (some time during elementary school) has a lime green ring of plastic around it. Up to now, I thought my bike had a gross color scheme going for it, but it was lighter than the mountain bike I’d had for years, and served me well when I was a bike messenger in Chicago. So I couldn’t complain. I had a job that allowed me to train for this program and afford rent and food. I could accept that my bike looked like a bad flashback from 1973.
After a fall on wet train tracks coming in at a weird angle in Baton Rouge (shout out to Stephanie Anthony!), the tape around my handlebars was pretty badly cut up. I would need to replace it at some point on this trip, as it would eventually unravel. It also provided no cushioning, unlike the assortment that Bicycle Superstore in Lake Charles had. They offered to give us free tune ups, and discounts on such items as new grip tape and noise-makers. My bike makes me laugh, a lot, now. That silly gator head? It squeaks. Look at its face, the cranky expression!
The head mechanic of the shop was as curmudgeonly as I can sometimes (often, frequently, openly) be.”Those are for children,” he said, I suppose in an attempt to embarrass me into purchasing a real bell. For adults. I’m pretty much a little boy, so I think I’ve stayed true to my integrity here. “I’m from Florida. It’s an alligator. How can I not need this?”
Although, it doesn’t make for the best bike music. Bike music? Wait for the video, friends. There will be bike music!