In summer of 1999, after having survived the foothills of the Wasatch on a Trek 990 mountain bike for a year, I brought my old Cannondale road bike over from Germany. It wasn't easy. First, I had to fight with the lady who checked me in in Dresden and all but refused the box because it had not been declared in advance. Then I had to find the box at Schiphol airport and convince the next lady to put it on the transatlantic flight. Less than two months after arriving in Utah, the bike was stolen on campus despite being looked to solid support.
I spent an entire Saturday checking out all pawn shops in town, but the bike was irretrievable. I can't recall the date, but it must have been pretty close to exactly seven years ago that I bought my current road bike. A bike swap was organized by the Utah National Guard where I hoped to find replacement. Before leaving the house, I had announced to my roommate, much to his irritation because he had his own ideas about bikes, that I would return with another Cannondale.
Upon entering the swap, my eyes immediately fell on her. What a beauty. Fair-skinned and blue-eyed, she didn't have to hide behind anyone. There was no paint to cover her flawless skin, just naked aluminum gleaming in the cold light of the neons. Not a gram too much, all muscle, all power. Even the pedals, coveted Speedplays, were trimmed to a minimum. I saw her and had made my decision, but before I could take possession, I had to endure an excruciating half hour ogling her from afar while two dudes were laying their dirty hands on her, lifting her up appreciatively, checking the shifting. I was circling like a hawk in the summer sky, and a split second after the two dudes had walked off, I was there, grabbed the frame and never let to – while spending the next two hours walking around among rows of bikes and piles of merchandise trying to find another deal. When I got home at night, I put the bike into the living room so my roommate had to notice it when he returned.
Ever since, the bike has made me look good and I've been good to her – taking her on rides in pretty cool places and keeping her out of the rain for the most part. Nevertheless, over the years, time has taken its toll. The smooth skin of the frame is spoiled with wrinkles, rashes of corrosion, scratches and dings. The bright blue accents have long faded to grey. Even though she creaks and moans on steep climbs sometimes, I love her just like on our first ride. We are together like an old couple, knowing each other, appreciating the other's qualities, excusing flaws, having a good time, eating step climbs for lunch.
So it was with some trepidation and mixed feelings that I went to a bourse aux vélo, a bike swap, this morning. Would I be struck and taken away by a fresh beauty? Would I have to demote Silver to commuter beater? My worries were unfounded. Even though I was among the first to enter the swap and there was a fair number of road bikes for sale, not a single one posed a serious challenge to a long-standing relationship. I'll replace my bike when it cracks and breaks in half. Until then, a lot of mountains remain to be climbed.