My college girlfriend (now my wife) suffered through hours of standing around in record stores, waiting for me as I thumbed through the badly organized vinyl, seeking treasure. Then there were the used book stores, dusty, smelling of mildew. It’s a miracle she stuck by me, intemperate as I was, self-centered. I have moved on from these behaviors. Mostly.
Bikes still have the capacity to inspire my inner boondoggler, but fortunately searching for used, vintage and obscure bicycles is mainly an internet endeavor.
For a time I was obsessed with the idea of finding a Coventry Eagle produced in a factory in Mochdre, near Newtown, Wales, very near where my father’s family has lived and farmed fora at least the last two centuries. Coventry Eagle produced the Barry Hoban frames, and Barry was their marketing manager, after he retired from racing.
I never did find one in good enough condition to throw money at, and in retrospect I have to believe that any surviving examples will be so heavy and/or rusted that they’d break my heart.
When my kids were not yet walking, I also plowed untold hours into researching BMX bikes, not for them, but for me. Time-crippled as you are when you have young, young children, I believed I could make the process of riding back and forth in front of our house with them more fun for myself by getting a BMX bike that I could teach myself tricks on.
This dream actually did come to pass, and I managed to get in about three rides on my age-inappropriate acquisition before I gave up on the idea. On the very first ride, my older son asked me if I could do a wheelie. Well, of course I can do a wheelie. You can see where this is going, right?
Used to wheelie’ing mountain bikes, I heaved back on the bars of my BMX, stomped down on the right pedal and landed hard on my back in my neighbor’s driveway, my shoulder popping in an audible and slightly sickening way. I lay there for a minute or two, trying not to scare my kid, trying to convince myself that I wasn’t Earth’s greatest moron, and then finally staggered back to a standing position.
“Are you ok, dad?” he asked. “Uh huh. Sure,” I replied. That shoulder hurt for about two years.
This week’s Group Ride asks, what have been your great bike quests, fulfilled or unfulfilled? What is the most ridiculous, aspirational, nostalgic, obscure thing you’ve hunted for? And of those bikes you’ve finally possessed, which have been revelations, and which disappointments?