I gave away my bike the other day.
Just walked it, along with my wife’s bike, a few blocks down the street to Goodwill, and that was that. For the first time in more than 40 years, I don’t own a bicycle.
My burgundy Cannondale road bike had been with me for nearly a quarter century, since I bought it from a friend for $300 in 1989. It carried me on that year’s Cycle Oregon tour, two more weeklong Cycle Oregons, a two-day ride from Seattle to Portland, a couple more century rides, and thousands of miles of roads large and small, all along the West Coast.
The rims, like my right arm, bear the scars of a 30 mph crash where the road descending from the Astoria Column turns 90 degrees left and changes from smooth tarmac into an alligator’s back, and where I picked the wrong time to let my mind drift for a second.
That wreck didn’t keep me off my bike. Neither did my slower-speed crash decades later, when some idiot opened the door of his Cadillac right in front of me a couple of blocks from my house in San Diego.
“I just didn’t see you,” he said as he stood over me.
“Clearly,” I said as I lay there shaking and bleeding.
The crashes were bookends to a few scary close calls, a thrilling 50 mph descent near Thousand Oaks, a feeling of accomplishment after the seven-mile climb to the Greensprings summit in Southern Oregon, a magical stretch during Seattle to Portland when a couple of friends and I covered 36 miles in 90 minutes, and hours of sweaty fun as I explored back roads and city streets wherever I happened to live.
But I hadn’t ridden for more than a year. I’d finally come to realize that, rather than helping my chronic back problem the way other exercise does, cycling made it worse. On top of that, we moved to Los Angeles last year, and I don’t think I’d feel safe riding around here.
So I gave away my bike. It was the right decision, but it feels strange. It’s not so much that I don’t have my Cannondale anymore; it’s more that I’m no longer a guy who needs or wants a bicycle. For reasons I can’t explain, that’s weird.
I didn’t take a picture of my bike before I dropped it off at Goodwill. I did, however, photograph the cycling shoes I bought around the time I picked up my Cannondale. They’re the only bike shoes I’ve ever owned, and shortly after I shot the photo at the top of this post, they went into the trash.
But I kept my helmet. After all, it’s nearly new, and you never know.