Friday, January 13, 2017

The Romance of Practicality

Has it only been two years since Scamper bounded into my life? As of yesterday, we celebrated our anniversary. It was a cold January day in 2015 as I eagerly awaited my bike, tracking the package like a predatory creature, ready to pounce at each delivery truck that passed. Seven hundred thirty-one days, well, thirty-two if you count today, of adventure. Scamper boasts more stickers on his frame, and patches on his bags. He's taken some damage, his fenders aren't as smooth, there's a touch of rust that I forever tend on his midbar.
       Its fitting, I've taken some damage during those two years too, and added plumage. I'm not the sort of person who counts miles, I prefer to count journeys; from the SODO range, to the Burk-Gilman Trail, the downtown greenways for social rides, up improbable hills, and plunging down angles that literally steal one's breath. Scamper has borne my weight, and the weight of friends, always ready to strap on the basket and become a pseudo-cargo bike, or by bungee haul incredible loads.
      Not just any bike could do what Scamper does, for while any frame could bear me during all of this, no bike could be so constantly by my side. Driven by conditions to take the bus, Scamper comes onboard, folded neatly, and stored properly. I always have to mentally prepare myself when boarding with Scamper. There are stares, some just gawk, while others give a deadpan-thousand-yard-stare, a few tilt their heads like the RCA dog, as if their eyes deceive the nature of the object before them. Once in a while, someone will exclaim, "Its not a wheelchair!" which I chalk up to just how I stand when riding with Scamper. But its not just the stares I'm preparing myself for, its the questions.
     "What is that?" and "Where did you get it?" also, "How can you get far with those little wheels," and so forth. I try not to take umbridge with the latter questions, they can't see the journeys Scamper out mastered a hill over a bigger wheeled bike with a stronger rider. They don't know he's gone as far north as Everett and as far south as the edges of West Seattle (which is south, I seriously do not understand you people, your compasses work down here, so what's up with the ornery directionals?) They don't know at a glance Scamper is capable of bearing up to 250lbs. They see a bike the size of a child's in frame because they come from a 'bigger is better,' mentality.
      I come from mentality of 'right tool for the right job,' and Scamper is just right. He's not so big he is put on the racks outside the bus, and the wear and tear shows on my husband's bike, which does ride on the outside because of it's size. Theft, the worry of which gnawed at my being every shift, became something that actually did happen to other people. Its pretty hard to steal a bike that's folded and stored inside, by a desk or in a closet. Even when I do have to lock him outside, I disable the midbar, which will cause any thief to face plant.
      That closeness fostered a comradery between me and my bike. Is he practical? Yes, but that practicality is so much more. As a child I had... stubby legs, I never felt as fast as I ought to be, frustrating each journey. Once I could ride that changed, I was exactly as fast I thought I should be, mentally, it all fell into place. I started calling my bike my 'legs,' and never really shifted away from that. Folded up, Scamper is at my fingertips, ready to go from stationary to journey. I don't have to go outside to get my bike, just the front room. I'm not seperated from him no matter the manner of transportation.
     I've been tempted by other frames in the past year, those sleek carbon forks, those aluminum frames, and those sturdy bakfiet beauties that grace the trails. Yet the very covetous nature prevents me from seeking one, for if I desire it, than who else also sees it with a cunning eye? Nobody wants to steal Scamper, even left unattended, he's covered in so many stickers with a #ulockjustice sticker on his u-lock, he looks like the bike of a vengeful rider. Not exactly untrue. And none of those tempting beauties can do what Scamper can do, company and steed, bike and companion.
       Even as time goes on, I'm not sure how I could ever part with him. Scamper brought me to the courthouse to marry my best friend, when I got hit by a car, Scamper withstood and supported my shaking hands. Planning an adventure, how else would I go? Glancing at each sticker adorning his frame I can recall the scratch beneath, or the circumstances of acquisition. Its only been two years, but a lifetime of riding squeezed itself in. Perhaps one day I will need another bike, or Scamper might, (knock on wood) someday be put out of commission.
       Until that day, and probably even after, I'll be a folding filly. Maybe we're not the fastest ride on the rode, well, definitely we are not, but no matter the distance and the hills, we arrive.