Thursday, June 11, 2015

Old bikes never die...

Last year I saw an appeal for used bikes for refugees so they could travel to Italian classes.

I thought about my old Trek in the attic but quickly forgot.   Later I bumped into the teacher who had launched the appeal and asked if she still needed bikes.  She said sure, bring your bike in, but again I forgot about it.  Then a couple of days ago she sought me out and said she had a student who needed a bike.  I promised this time.    

I brought the bike down from my attic and found a used tire and tube for the front wheel.  Then I reinstalled the front brake I'd canned off the Trek when my Merckx needed brake work.  The bike was ready.   When I delivered the bike to my teacher, despite wearing a dress this 60 year old 5-foot tall woman threw her leg over the top tube and stood in the pedals as she spun it up to speed.  I'd forgotten she's an avid biker, once riding the length of the Danube cycling route.

Later she dropped by our class while everyone was saying their end-of-school goodbyes and told me the refugee she gave my bike to had tears welling in his eyes when he received it.  Which got me thinking about how I was given the bike, and how important it had been for me.  Here's a post from August 2010:

"I hauled my spare bike out of the attic, a 1990's Trek 1220. I haven't ridden this bike much, but it was very important to getting me healthy again a few years ago. In 2003 I had lost my 1996 Pinarello Dyna Lite in an encounter with an unexpected Men at Work sign, and was bike-less. A very kind colleague, Clint Holm, had a spare Trek 1220 since he had bought a new bike, and very graciously gave it to me.  I barely rode it though.

"I was feeling weaker and weaker and very blah, without any motivation. I thought I was just getting old. After retirement in 2005, my wife finally insisted I see a doctor. I was very fortunate because Dr Tracee Ray took the matter seriously and knew which tests could narrow it down. Then an MRI confirmed it- I had a 3 cm mass at the base of my brain. My new doc, Dr Michael Kenney put me on some drugs to reduce the size and control the tumor. These made me feel even worse for about a year, but finally I became habituated to the side effects and started improving in 2007. 

"Now that I was feeling less blah I needed to do something about the weakness. I got out the old Trek Clint had given me and took it for a spin around the block. I was tired and couldn't go any further, but it was fun and I wanted to ride more. So I started taking little flat rides to Malnisio and San Leonardo etc. I gradually increased distance and even was even able to struggle up some small hills. Clint's gift of a bike had been a godsend- it was reviving my former fitness which had been lost to the tumor."

So if you have an old bike don't toss it out- someone out there might need it.  And if they don't now, maybe they will later.

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