Friday, March 25, 2016

Happy Sweet 16, Red Bike!

Picking up my Red Bike from Tandem Bike Cafe with the Yuba Mundo
The last couple of years, I've written about my Yuba Mundo a lot, & some other cargo bikes that I've tried, as well as the white Pure City step-through that I bought at the Momentum Magazine Gear Swap. However, my old red bike (yep, I have three bikes) doesn't get much attention anymore.

Lately, I've been trying to remember how long ago it was that I got my red bike. I was talking about it with Clint after he did some work on it recently at Tandem Bike Cafe. Then one evening I remembered that I kept the owner's manual, so I looked to see if I had the receipt as well. Et voila! March 21, 2000, my shiny red Diamondback Wildwood came home with me.

Well worn & well loved Red Bike.
This bike is the first bike I bought for myself. I'd had quite a few over the years--from the little red one with training wheels to my first adult size mountain bike from Sears--all bought by my parents. My red one was the first I chose & paid for, with commuting to work in mind. It represented adulthood, independence.

In the past 16 years, my red bike has been through a lot with me. I rode it up to school a few times when I was at Simon Fraser University. (If you don't know Vancouver, let me explain why it was only a few times: SFU is an top of Burnaby Mountain, 370 metres, or 1243 feet above sea level. Where I live is about 50 metres elevation)

I rode it to work rain or shine to what I can only call an art factory, & carried it up a tall flight of stairs every day to park it indoors. Riding it home melted away the stress from the repetetive factory workday. Then later, I rode it downtown, clad in spandex & Scotchlite, changing at work, since I needed to be somewhat presentable as a teacher.

Before I ever knew about cargo bikes, my Red Bike carried a DVD player, a 14-pound turkey, & many 20-pound bags of cat litter. It carried me on a tour to two Gulf Islands & years of bike commuting downtown in lycra, clipless pedals & all.

Critical Mass 2008ish, clipless pedals & bike gloves. Heh.
My red bike has seen a few crashes that left me bruised & scraped but we only ever had one minor contact with a car. These, plus my fruit sticker based uglification campaign that I thought would make it less of a target for thieves, mean it is not a pretty bike.

Once Linnaeus came along, my Red Bike saw very little action until we bought a child trailer, then an iBert seat. It carried little Linny & I all over the place. Linnaeus loved riding in front of me, dinging the bell & shouting "Bike paff" to anyone ahead. (wonder where he got that from?)

Then when I was pregnant with Brontë, I swapped the seat for a wider one & the straight-ish bars for more swept back ones to allow me to sit up straight & create more room for my belly behind Linny in the iBert. Sitting on my Red Bike & riding slowly was far easier than walking, so I biked right up to my last week of pregnancy.

Red Bike had another bout of rare use after Brontë's birth, until she was seven months & we put her in the trailer. It was around this time that we added a Trailabike hitch to the dinged up bike. With the iBert & the Trailabike my trusty red steed could carry three quarters of our little family.

Me (about 2 months pregnant) & Linny (age 2.5) at Trout Lake.
My red bike's new role as kid hauler wouldn't last long, however, as we bought our Yuba Mundo that summer. Relegated to second string backup bike, its tires softened & the chain gathered dust in the garage again. Red Bike was starting to show its age, getting more rickety & creaky. The front derailleur eventually seized up, & the rear wasn't working well either, reducing it from a 21-speed hill climber to a five-speed beater.

I never planned to get rid of it, but I was shopping for a stylish step-through. Something Dutch looking, in contrast to the American diamond frame ordinariness of the red. Then I found a deal on a white single speed & nearly forgot about old red in the joy of riding my shiny new "Omafiets".

One of Bronte's rare rides on Old Red.
What saved my red bike is my penchant for enabling. I love showing tourists my city by bike & giving friends their first taste of riding. So after mostly ignoring & occasionally hobbling along on my barely functional old beast for way too long, I brought it into Clint at Tandem Bike Cafe so I could, in good conscience, loan it to someone for a Vancouver Family Biking Ride.

Clint replaced much of the drive train, a wheel, rotated the tires & tuned up old red. Then he tested it out, popping a wheelie, later telling me he liked how it rides. & he made me realize, that it actually is a fun bike to ride. I can't put my finger on why, as it's a pretty basic bike, with a frame that's technically too big for me.

But now that it's in great running condition, I find I'm choosing Red Bike more often for my occasional solo rides to meetings & networking events. It's battered & scarred but Clint is right: it's a fun ride that always puts a smile on my face.

Happy 16th Birthday, Red Bike!

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