Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2016/ Goodbye, Bicycle

Goodbye, Bicycle

My bike went missing on Monday last week. I went to a meeting, came back, and then locked the bike up behind my workplace. Maybe I did not lock the bike properly or maybe somebody broke the lock. In either case, the bike was gone when I came by to retrieve it.

I was pretty numb when I discovered the loss, and remained numb until it was time to spend money ($62 so far, and counting) on a replacement. I knew that my lock was not fantastic, but I thought that my bike was relatively safe because it always looked pretty shoddy, with a torn seat and rusty wheels. Now I feel anxious because I do not want to lose my new bike. Also: putting together a new bike is such a pain, especially when you are as picky about bicycles as I am.

I do miss my bike. I think I have owned it for 14 years. It is debatable whether the bike that got stolen was the same one I purchased; I have replaced every component on the bike except maybe the gear shifters and front derailleur. Nonetheless, I think of my bike as being 14 years in my possession, and even though it was getting old and creaky I it suited my needs well. I probably put a thousand kilometres on that bike over the years, which is nothing compared to hardcore cyclists but was a lot for me.

The frame was a brown Raleigh from the 1960s or 1970s, and bike nerds remarked that it was a nice high-end frame for its time. Even though components for 1970s road bikes are getting more difficult to find, thanks to Recycle Cycles I was able to keep the bicycle maintained (without Recycle Cycles I probably would not be riding at all). The replacement I am putting together is nicer, but it is also a road bike, and so I will have the same problems in keeping it roadworthy. Furthermore a nicer bike makes a nicer target for thieves, which makes me worry more that instead of losing a bike every 14 years I will lose a bike annually.

Going without a bicycle reminds me just how spoiled I have become. I am now accustomed to travelling the city on bicycle speeds, as opposed to travelling at pedestrian speeds the way I used to. The day after my bike went missing I had an appointment in Waterloo, and I acutely felt the trip there and back. I do not like how dependent I have become on bicycling, but I do not want to give up the privilege, either.

In some sense it is no big deal that my bike was stolen. I have enough financial buffer that I can afford to replace a bicycle once in a while, especially since Recycle Cycles is willing to sell me used bikes cheaply. It is also the case that I get too attached to my possessions, and this is good practice to that inevitable day when I will lose everything I own.

But in another sense I am quite unhappy to lose my trusty steed. I am pretty sure that its new owner will not be riding it regularly; for all I know my bike's corpse is in some ditch or has been chopped up for parts. I don't ever expect to see it again, especially since I never recorded the serial number. I feel mistrustful about locking my bike up at work, or anywhere else. I have to worry about how much money I am going to throw at a replacement lock. I am fortunate that I can recover from this loss, but there are consequences.