I sold a bike the other day. It was a 2005 model roadie. A Trek 2000. Carbon front and rear, alloy middle, Shimano Ultegra build.
I saved up $50 a week for that steed while working in a bike shop in Sydney and feeling my way through my first degree at uni. I ate a lot of porridge.
A day or so after I brought it home, I broke my toe while hanging out the washing (true story).
I learned about how I cope with injuries while recovering from that broken toe. And when the doctor did a routine blood test, I learned about the importance of things like iron, protein and a balanced healthy diet.
While my first outings with the Trek were somewhat delayed we more than made up for our slow start over the next ten or so years. I remember sneaking it into the odd lecture at uni. It was too valuable to leave outside, and I'd spent too long riding it before the lecture to go home first and change.
After much begging, I remember finally getting the green light to help lead one of the bike shop’s Saturday social rides.
The ride turned out to be a shambles. Men scattered up and down the road, refusing to ride in the safety and cohesion of bunch. Half way through the ride we hit a long climb. Sydney riders will know this one as the climb out of Church Point.
The Trek and I beat all the guys bar one to the top of that climb, despite giving them a substantial head start. I felt a whole different level of respect on the return journey as a result.
I learned a lot about self-confidence that morning, and skills I had which spoke much louder than words. I also learned about the types of rides I enjoy most (not that one afterall) and where to seek them out.
When it came time to upgrade the Trek, my partner took hold of its curly aluminium bars and discovered road riding too. She met a crew of lifelong friends that not only ride together, but catch up regularly for meals. Every few months they catch up at someone's home. They each bring a dish from a country that has been chosen for that night’s delicacies. My favourite, so far, is Peru.
In its later years, this same bike became a trusted commuter. We’d ride back to the uni but as a teacher now and, on other days, to places like SBS to share stories on cycling that are far bigger than this one.
The bike has remained light, robust, dependable and, assuming bikes have feelings, probably felt a little horrified at being left outdoors with a U-lock.
This same bike met its new owner last weekend. An 11 year old girl whose mum is getting more into cycling too.
I wanted to tell her some of the stories that this bike carries with it. I wanted to tell her how, when I was at high school, my mum bought me a second hand bike, one that was also about 10 years old like this one, and how much it changed my life.
But the bike is hers now. Ready for stories of their own. I feel just as excited wondering what they might be.
“Have fun riding it!” was what I found myself saying, instead of colourful tales of broken toes, hill climb world records, and dinners from around the globe.
“And if you don’t, make sure you pass it on to someone else who does!” Maybe she’ll find her own excitement but for something else entirely.
As I waved goodbye and reflected on the stories this bike can tell, what I realised was just how much it has moulded stories of my own.
If your own cycling habit has brought you to this website, I imagine you have several stories to tell as well.