Thursday, April 21, 2016

In Which I Cry “Dead Bike Walking”

Francis at sunset near the end of the final walk home.
Well, not really. Francis wasn’t ever really alive, and I wore that bike out through heavy use, I didn’t execute it.

But today, I took Francis for probably the bike’s final journey. I went to Northtowne, my neighborhood bike shop, for two reasons: 1) To picked up a mountain bike wheel that the shop replaced a spoke on; and 2) To pick up Francis.

I took Francis into the shop Saturday, and Monday they gave me two estimates for fixing my old bike—one in the mid-200s, the other more than $100 over that.

The wife put her foot down, saying something like “you’re not putting that much money into an old, broken down bike.” And I think she was being the voice of reason—even if I told them to repair Francis, I would have ended up with a ridable old bike with many new parts on it, but what would break next?

Still, to be honest, if I won the Lotto tomorrow, I’d take that bike right back to the shop and say “fix it.” It’s the bike that is best for commuting in town. It’s the bike with the tot seat for taking young grandkids on rides. It is the first bike I ever asked my readers to name, and the first bike I ever rode RAGBRAI on.

Sept. 28, 2010--first published photo of Francis.
 I was assuming I owned Francis for about four years, but I checked my old blog posts and discovered how much more quickly time flies these days. I started writing CR Biker in April 2010—and announced on Sept. 28, 2010, my purchase of a new bicycle, which would be named Francis later.

Well, winning the Lotto is pretty unlikely. And with the mountain bike wheel back, one of my projects will be to reassemble The Beast. And I’ll take a look at TB and see if I can fit the toddler seat on it—I do hope so.

Granted, I had planned to get The Beast going again anyway even if the cost of fixing Francis was more modest—I think of The Beast as my “winter beater” bike, or the bike I’m willing to allow to get wet. But, between Argent and The Beast, I suppose I have enough bicycles.

One man probably is rich if he owns two bikes that he can ride.

But, sigh. So long Francis. I thought of climbing aboard for a symbolic one-block ride on the way home, but I noticed the bike shop had taken apart the back brake to look at it, and I couldn’t get it back together. And it was only after I arrived home that I recalled another complication—the bike mechanic had also let the air out of the back tyre during the initial repair inspection.

So the last journey was doing what I never do with a bicycle outside of mechanical issues—it was a walk.

And it was sunset as I neared home, so I figured, what the heck. I snapped one last picture of Francis fading into memory.

A few sky views. Blairs Ferry Friday morning, above. Below, looking west into setting sun on a damp Thursday ride home. Bottom, Friday afternoon sky as I get ready to leave MMU. It looked like it could storm, but didn't. I was actually lucky riding this week.

Aside from being bummed that my 6-year-old bike is kaput, this has actually been an interesting, and decent, biking week. It’s rained several times, but always timed so that I could use my road bike. I’m not wild about having to carry all my supplies in a back pack (oh Francis, I do miss your sexy back rack and bags), but I do enjoy the speed of the road bike.

Next week? Maybe, with any luck, I’ll have The Beast assembled. Rides won’t be that fast, but I probably won’t even notice any minor bumps or rocks or chasms in the road with those big mountain tyres. Stay tuned.

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