I am selling my bike. Someone is coming to look at it tonight, and perhaps it will be gone before I go to bed. It is a hybrid, bought in Montreal, brown with something tricky in the paint that makes it sparkle green in sunlight. In its own way, it was a good bike… and putting it up for sale makes me think of all the bikes I’ve ever had….
My first bike was metallic pink. At some point it had a blue back tire. There was a big sidewalk hill with chain-link fence on either side leading down to College Ave school from Vanier Crescent and I used to careen down that hill and back-pedal brake to leave a blue tire skid. Seeing the blue skid mark was very satisfying. I think I rode my brother’s very cool orange bike for a bit after that – it was a chopper, low with a banana seat and 3 gears which you could shift using a gear knob in front of the seat. I don’t remember the order exactly, but I rode my mother’s red bike for a while though it was too big for me. My mother’s red bike was a real ladies bike with a dropped bar. It was the same colour and style as my father’s.
But at some point I convinced my parents to take me out to the place where everyone bought bikes — some place in the country — and I got a nice white Sekine 10-speed with ram horn handlebars. A guy’s bike. (It was the fad for girls to ride guy’s bikes.) As a teenager, I used to wander around the neighbourhood and around town on that bike. I loved it. But by the time I was in university driving here and there in an old blue Chevette, I didn’t ride that bike all that much. I can’t remember what happened to it, but it didn’t come out West with me when we moved.
It was my ex-husband who announced he was going to get a bike the second year we were living in Vancouver. I hadn’t biked in a few years and I wasn’t even sure I could balance properly, but when he got one, I got one. They were both blue hybrids, the same model in different frame sizes. I wasn’t sure at first if I would ride it much, but it was love at first bike! On that bike I commuted to UBC along the beaches and up that huge hill to the campus. And later I rode across town to the VCC to take ESL teacher training classes. If it was raining, snowing, sunny, windy, I rode that bike. On a number of occasions J and I experienced the thrill of bursting out of the dense foliage of Stanley Park onto the narrow sidewalk flooded with light, a view of the sea, and 3 lanes of heavy traffic going close by — that was the way onto the Lion’s Gate Bridge. I found biking over bridges pretty exciting. One lovely day we even rode all the way out from Kitsilano to Lighthouse Park and back. Before moving to Amsterdam, we sold our bikes to friends of a friend.
In Amsterdam I rode an old heavy 3 speed ladies bike. It was utilitarian and hard to get used to, but no one rode nice bikes there for transportation — they would be stolen in a jiffy. Still, it was fun riding around on that clunker since Holland has bike paths absolutely everywhere. On the weekends we would ride out of our suburb, across the water, and up into the polders. It was delightful. Sometimes, though, I would think of how far and how comfortably I could have ridden on my favourite blue bike, left behind in Vancouver.
When we got to Montreal, we bought bikes pretty quickly, but it wasn’t a good experience (for me). I felt intimated by the Italian bike pros running the neighbourhood shop. They told me I didn’t need to ride the bike before buying it — they ordered one in the size they told me I would need and I had to pay up front before even seeing the bike. This was a mistake I won’t make again! However, I did get a lot of good rides in on this bike. Especially nice was going along the canal South of Montreal. Though I rode in downtown traffic in Vancouver, it was another story in Montreal. I didn’t have the nerve to ride with Montreal drivers and I took the bus or walked.
Some health issues barred me from riding for a while and I never really got back into it here on PEI. I rode the bike once in a while, but never as often as the years before. The last few years I have only ridden my bike once or twice a year and have figured out that it really isn’t a good fit for my body. Hopefully it will delight someone else. And when it is gone, there will be space for me to find a new one, and I’ll take my time.
Postscript: Goodbye bike! A very tall and friendly gentleman rode it up and down the street, then paid me, and put it in the back of his open-top convertible with his gentle black dog. May the Montreal bike serve him well.