Old friends never go away. Sometimes years go by without a visit or thought, but all of a sudden that friend is back, as good as the memories that live with them. Often times that friend returns a little more dusty than the last time I saw them, but the shine is still there under the dust.
My Univega via Montega was the bike that brought me back to cycling, some 25 years ago now. The frame is sturdy steel, not terribly heavy but not a lightweight either, set up as a hybrid. When I first started cycling, my goal was to lose weight, a second surgery to my right knee made it difficult to run long distances. I would finish a run and immediately had to grab an ice bag to cut the swelling. Cycling had been prescribed as therapy after my second surgery, an exercise that strengthens the muscles around the joint and helps keep it stable. Also, I had ballooned to 235 pounds, not exactly healthy for my 6’1″ frame or for my fragile knee. I changed my eating habits and started cycling in July 1992. By that November I had gone from 235 pounds to 192 pounds. That bike carried me along the crushed limestone paths of the Prairie Path and Fox River trail in the west suburbs of Chicago. I caught the bug quick, soon logging 400 miles or more a week, the motivation fueled by literally watching the fat melt off of my body after each ride. The transformation was dramatic.
The next year I rode my first 7 day bike tour — RAGBRAI. I was hooked. I began riding my bike to work in an effort to balance family time and riding time. When we bought our first house, roughly 12 miles away from work, my car stayed at home the majority of the time. A few years after I started cycling, my car blew an engine in November and I didn’t bother to replace it for an entire year (yes, I rode through northern Illinois winters). My Univega was truly a familiar friend. We spent a lot of time together. I kept it clean, maintained it myself, and it rewarded me with flawless performance.
Over the years, other bicycles came into the picture and I rode my Univega less and less. But I never got rid of the bicycle, partly because of its sentimental value and partly due to the fact that it is truly a nice ride.
I pulled the Univega down from the rafters this afternoon. My new home is right off the forest preserve paths as well as the Prairie Path. I need it again. It’s dusty and dirty, needs a lot of TLC to be rideable again, but it’s time to renew the relationship with my old friend. It will probably be a slow project getting the Univega back to riding shape, but I may assemble the old parts before I start replacing them, take it out for a ride before cold weather sets in. The Univega is going to be a winter project, I think.
Old friendships never go away, even when that old friend is a bike.