Thursday, July 06, 2006
I like this image because it represents functional imperfection. The crank is dirty, with little flecks of grease all over the place and a chain that begs for a good cleaning. It's scratched in places. The middle of the crank seems to be missing its covering. It won't win any cyclical beauty contests.
Despite the mechanical grunginess and ugliness on the surface, this is beautiful to me. It's a closeup of my so-called beater bike, the one I take to work, the one I ride when the weather's threatening, the one I ride when I don't want to get the "good" bike dirty or scratched.
I bought it about six years ago. I needed a bike I wouldn't have to worry about if I left it locked outside the office all day. I didn't want to spend a lot of money, yet it needed to be a better bike than the stamped-steel monsters found at the local Wal-Mart. Tall order. I needed a used machine, and I needed to be creative.
I took our eldest son, then five years-old, to a few local consignment stores (pause...yes, I went downscale. Surprised?) He spotted a purple mountain bike with yellow cables lurking in the shadows of a dusty old store. I looked more closely: it was a Miele - score! A good, solid bike in good condition, found by our little guy.
Because the store owners had no clue that this was a diamond in the rough, they let it go for a song. I said nothing as Zach helped me wheel the bike out the door and into the parking lot. When we got to the van, I popped my green water bottle into the cage, and Zach immediately dubbed it the Barney Bike, which it has been ever since.
It's got big, fat, knobby tires, and it's kinda slow on the road. But if I need to get to work and not concern myself with getting the vaunted "good" bike wet and mucky, this is my mode of transportation. I think of that afternoon every time I get on, and conclude that beauty can take on many forms. And an afternoon with our son scouring forgotten old stores certainly qualifies.
Your turn: Can you describe a unique day with an immediate relative or friend? What made it so special?