Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wheels of Fortune: Biking Through Biography

Mr. Schwinn, out on the porch, ready to ride!
The other day, I hauled my bike out of the basement, its winter home in the south.  I hate putting in down there in the late fall: there's always something a bit melancholy about it--something even valedictory, especially as I continue my march toward 70 and all that ensues.

In recent years, when the weather reports convince me (usually in November) that the biking season--for me--is over (I see some doughty folks riding all winter; it doesn't look fun), and when I finally carry the bike to the basement, I have to work hard to silence that annoying voice (my brain's? my bike's?)  that insists on saying: You know what?  When it's time to go back upstairs next spring, you may be DEAD!

You can't really slap a bike's face.  Or insult it right back (Oh, yeah?  I might leave you at the curb with the other TRASH!)  I mean, you could talk to your bike ... but what if the neighbors heard?  (Old Dan's out there talking to himself again, Marge.  Sad ...)  A friend told me that my favorite English teacher from high school, later, wandered around town talking to people who weren't there.  Maybe he had a bike.

But--hauling it back up the stairs each spring!  Now, that is Hope!

I always take it to Eddy's in Stow (where we bought it, oh, twenty-five years ago), where they charge me an ever-increasing sum to restore it.  I like Eddy's.  I remember when it was a much smaller operation, a place where you could buy cheese and fresh bait as well as bikes.

But this time, the service tech looked at me and said, Seen better days ...  I wasn't really sure if he was talking about the bike, or me, so I assumed the former.  I said, Well, I'm not riding any Tour de France.  Chortle, chortle.  (No reaction from focused? tech.)   I suppose we can replace ... he said, naming parts I'd never heard of.  Sure.  Whatever.

Eddy's kept the bike a few days.  On Tuesday I picked it up and, back home, hopped on right away, riding around the funeral home parking lot (next door--I call it my Stage 2 Retirement Home), checking out the gears, brakes.  Everything worked fine.  I'd been riding an exercise bike all winter, so I was working pretty fine, too.  Not bad for guy on Medicare.

And then yesterday morning--Wednesday, very early, 6-ish--I rode it for the first time this spring (I know--not yet, officially) down to the coffee shop, several blocks away, both bike and I illuminated like a turnpike plaza, smoothly cruised to the front door, expertly stopped, smoothly dismounted, turned off all the lights (it took a while), waited for the doors to open, thinking, for yet another year: I am immortal.

And I think of that gorgeous Richard Wilbur poem ... from 2010 (see link), a poem about a man hopefully feeding birds in the winter's snow--

Betting crust and crumb
That birds will gather, and that
One more spring will come.

Richard Wilbur poem

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