Syracuse, NY. September, 1964. My mom and her new Columbia bicycle.
Perhaps, if not for this moment: She may not have bought a Lotus mixte road bike in the early 1980’s. She may not have borrowed the trailer from the family down the street and towed me into the countryside more than a couple times, out beyond the asphalt plant, beyond the dairy farms and the corn fields. She may not have held my seat as I teetered on two wheels, falling more than once, knees bloodied before bed. I would not have enjoyed riding so much to ignore the fact that I had inherited a Cabbage Patch themed bicycle from my older sister, with tassels, white wicker basket, banana seat and solid rubber tires. I would not have graduated to pneumatic tires and a more BMX-themed bicycle, and slipped on the gravel at the bottom of the driveway while cornering at high speed, loosening more than one tooth. I would not have received a 5-speed bike with shocks for my birthday, and proceeded to huck it off every available driveway end, where the curb slopes upward at such an angle to make a real sweet kicker on a small-wheeled bike. I would not have spent the money from my first lawnmowing job on a real bike, a mid-nineties Trek 820 Mt. Track. It was orange. I would not have actually taken it off-pavement and into the hills and forests, as the marketing suggested. I would not have begged for a Gary Fisher Tassajara— a seemingly real, real bike compared to the Trek– and ridden some real trails on it and enjoyed it. I would not have taken the Fisher to college, where it was eventually stolen and replaced by other bikes and skateboards and things with wheels, including an old Sears three-speed not unlike the Columbia from 1964. I would not have purchased a singlespeed Bianchi San Jose with my first paycheck as a dockhand at the marina, to replace the functional, but failing three-speed. I would not have commuted every day for two years in Tacoma before eventually riding 45 miles to Seattle with Lael on a fixed-gear iteration of the San Jose, because we didn’t have money for bus fare. We would not have decided that we could; we would not have declared that we would ride across the country. We left that fall, Sept 2008. It has been five years.
If not for that moment in Syracuse, NY in 1964, the last five years would look very different. Thanks mom.