I met the 25 dollar bike on a cool, autumn day on Locust Walk. This seemingly nonchalant green huffy was propped against a few other rusted cruisers looking sheepishly unassuming. “Donated Bikes,” the sign said, and to some degree I believed this had to be true considering all of the bikes were missing pedals or something crucial. All of them, except the huffy. “Bike sale, eh? What’s the most expensive thing you’ve got going on here.” “Uhhh..,” the hot guy selling “donated bikes,” looked to the side. “Like, 40 dollars?” This ultimately seemed like the perfect situation for me. I’ve been looking for a bike since June but haven’t wanted to shell out any sort of substantial cash to get one as I am both poor and fiscal. I’m also not one who participates in bike theft because I know how it feels to get jilted out of something cool. This happened with my holographic Charzard and numerous cellphones; I know thievery’s cool sting all too well. “Alright, which one of this puppies is ready to leave the lot?”I asked and he pointed to the green huffy. “Well this shift wire is cut, the break pads could be replaced, but other than that you could just duct tape it and be good to go.” For an easy 25 dollars, I was sold. So after a shady transaction involving cash and side glances, the 25 dollar bike became my own. “I like your glasses,” the hot bike dealer said as he made change out of his fanny pack. Unfortunately for the hot bike swindler, I’m quite possibly the most awkward person to embark on romantic excursions of any kind with. I like to dance with every single body part I own, eat like I haven’t in years, initiate compulsive word vomit when I’m nervous and say things like, “I have really big underwear on.” So naturally my response was: “Thanks, they’re comfortable.” followed by tripping over the kick stand and speeding off into the distance. My cycling skills have always been a great subject of scrutiny. While my aunt once described my driving a bike as “scary,” others have called it “haphazard” or, “erratic.” Although I think one friend put it the best: “I figured, people could either ride a bike well enough or they couldn’t ride at all. But you created a whole new gray area of I have never seen in my life.” And it’s true. Possibly due to the fact that I often get the shakes for no apparent reason, other than the sheer intensity of living, but my cycling skills vary from block to block. One minute I can be speeding along the road like a pro and by the following street, crashing into a tree or getting my wheels caught in the trolly tracks. Stopping is somewhat difficult for me and if I go too fast down a hill I’m subject to scream. I’m often the victim of having a bicycle falling on me when I try to lock it up and just recently, I crashed into a tree escaping with only superficial wounds. But never the less, I felt free as a bird on the ol’ 25 and spent a good portion of my afternoon day dreaming about all the little doohickies I’d rig it up with instead of doing homework. I decided on what stickers I would cover it in and looked for a lobster shaped bicycle bell. However it quickly became apparent as I cruised down the hills of West Philadelphia that stopping abruptly, or entirely, was not a feature included in this bike. I decided that I would invest into this little fiscal gem by taking it to the local bike shop. As the worker assessed my bike, I noticed he became immediately stressed out and informed me that it would be over 150 dollars to fix my stolen, K-Mart brand bike. He also, in the gentlest way possible, made it a point to mention that I would be a “fool,” if I invested any sort of money into this and that he probably wouldn’t fix it for me because the guilt would overwhelm him. No one likes breaking up––breaking up is hard to do. 25 dollar bike and I had been together for a week and we had already been through so much together. Colliding into the back of parked cars, screaming when we were approaching intersections, and long uphill journeys in which its chain unceremoniously popped out––these were just a few of my fondest memories. Hell, I think he even gave me tetanus. But sometimes, you just gotta look at dead weight in the eye when you see it and say, “No. No, sir. I am worth more.” Even it if hurts or even if there’s feelings involved. The 150 dollars in repairs was a deal breaker, there would be no mending this relationship. So I upgraded to a better bike. A smooth operator that treats me like a lady and doesn’t make my thighs chafe when I ride it. I ultimately ditched 25 dollar bike somewhere on the corner of “the hood” and “run with your purse.” Ultimately, I decided this was the best option for both of us.
Well, that, and I couldn’t exactly ride two bikes home. Our time together was short and sweet, much how I like my affairs. I like to think maybe 25 dollar bike is being ridden by a child now (RIP Kid,) or perhaps it’s been scraped for it’s rusted metal (RIP bike.) Either way, I like to think 25 dollar bike is happy.
RIP 25 Dollar Bike 9/29/12–10/5/12