I got my nephew to spruce up my old bike a month ago. The poor old bike had been hanging on the garage wall for the past decade. The last time I rode it was along side Nori Kelley in the mid-to late 90's. There was a short time that we would meet and ride together. There are too many hills in my neighborhood and I only have so many gears. So many hills and all those territorial-minded dogs! Why oh why did I purchase a five speed mountain bike? The only time I got away from them was down hill - unfortunately they would get me on the way back home.
Heck, I'd never even heard of a mountain bike until the day I bought one. Back in the late eighties there was a bicycle shop on Forrest Avenue called Alabama Outdoors. My brother in-law, Dan Noojin, and I spent a good bit of time together during that time. For some reason he wanted to stop in there and look around. I don't recall Dan ever owning a bike - but he had apparently been in there several times before. There were no cheap bikes in that store. There wasn't a salesman in the place, but for some reason Dan took it upon himself to sell me a bike. To this day I have no idea why he talked me into it. I wasn't in the market for a bike.
At the time I was living downtown and had a job downtown. During Dan's sales pitch, I started imagining what it would be like to cruise around downtown to and from work. I bought the bike and started riding it everywhere. I am sure that Dan was trying to get me out of the house more. I am a bear that enjoys the cool dampness of his cave. Riding a bike took me outside. I rode the bike to work and back. I rode the bike to the grocery store down the street. I'd often carry a sketchbook and spend an evening down at the Chestnut Station ilustrating this and that. I was quite the bohemian. My favorite time and place was downtown Gadsden at night. I had the roads mostly to myself.
A few years later Gina and I got married. I bought her a ten speed Schwinn for her birthday one year. We enjoyed many weekends tooling around Bowling Green, Ky together. We'd go and have picnics at the parks, carry along tennis rackets on our backpacks, or just ride around town. We were in pretty darn good shape back during that time. I had a bicycle rack that we would strap onto the back of our car almost every time we went on a trip. We enjoyed going to various small Kentucky townships and cruising the small town scene.
Now that I am an overwieght fifty year old man (51 come the 19th) - I've taken to the old bike again. I really need the exercise to knock the blood pressure down - as well as take off some pounds. I rode it to the post office and back. It's been a very long time since I rode that thing. I enjoyed the quick venture. I came back kind of hot and sweaty - but at least I didn't get run over by all the downtown afternoon traffic. It looks like I'm back in the saddle again. Funny how I never intended to buy it that day - never intended on spending all that money on a bicycle. Glad I did though. I never got rid of that ride because of all the good memories attached to it.
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