The lives of a bike

I met a friend yesterday for lunch. He was one of those friends who I somehow know even though he doesn’t cycle or have anything to do with cycling. It’s surreal to have conversations with people who don’t ride, if only because eventually the conversation gets ’round to … cycling.

He told me about his brother, who recently got into cycling. “My brother, he is crazy for biking,” my friend said.

“Really?” I asked, hoping against hope that we would talk about the weather, politics, home improvement, dirty laundry, anything but cycling.

“Yeah, it’s really weird. Like, he rides all the time.”


“Yeah, huge distances, races and stuff. One time he rode a hundred miles.”


“Incredible, huh? And he did it in one day.”

“A whole day?”

“I couldn’t believe it, either. And his bike cost a fortune, man.”


“More than a car. I mean not really, but ten grand, easy.”


“I shit you not. And his isn’t even the most expensive bike out there.”


“Sky is the limit. You can spend twenty grand on a bicycle. Can you believe that? Twenty grand on a bicycle.”


“The world has gotten crazy, man. How about your bike? Is it one of those crazy expensive ones, too?”

“Not that expensive. Not cheap, but not ten grand or even close to it.”

“Yeah, he’s gone overboard. But you know what?”


“He’s lost a ton of weight. And that bike is a hell of a lot cheaper than a day in the hospital.”


“I mean it’s crazy. He’s down seventy pounds. In one year. Can you believe that?”


“He looks like you.”


“It’s crazy. You know I run and try to stay fit but I wish I could lose fifty pounds. It’s hard, man. Crazy hard.” He squeezed his gut with a wry laugh. “You biker dudes are all so fucking skinny. But it’s crazy, how expensive the gear is. It didn’t used to be like that, man.”

“No, it didn’t.”

“You know, I used to ride a bike.”


“Yeah, when I was in college. I got a racing bike, actually, a Bianchi. You know it?”

“Was it green by any chance?”

“It was! How’d you know that?”

“Lucky guess.”

“Yeah, it was a beautiful bike. I loved that bike. I rode it everywhere. It was so comfortable. And fast. Beautiful chrome parts.”

“I bet. Those were nice bikes.”

“But it’s nothing like the new ones. It only cost $700, which was a lot of money in 1988. You couldn’t buy any kind of bike now for $700. But I loved riding that bike, man.”

“Why’d you stop?”

“You ever try to pick up a chick on a bike?”

I didn’t say anything.

“It just wasn’t cool after I graduated. I got a car and a job and that was pretty much that. You know, you’re young and you think you’ll get back to it some day, and you never do. Then you get out of shape and it’s distant dream. But I loved that bike, man.”

“What happened to it?”

“I’ve still got it hanging in my garage. It’s in perfect condition.”


“That’s what got my brother started a couple of years ago. He came over and asked could he borrow it and I was like, ‘Sure, take it, man,’ and a year later he brings it back, all tuned up and shiny and new tires and everything and is like, ‘Thanks, I’m getting one for myself now,’ and so I hung it back up. His new bike, man, it’s fancy. He had to buy all new clothes, he lost so much weight.”

“You ever think about getting back on it?”

“All the time, man. Every day. But I’m so fucking out of shape I couldn’t hardly make it down the block. And I live on a really hilly street. Plus that bike is so old.”

“It worked for your brother, didn’t it?”

“You know, you’re right. And he was fatter than I am, man.”

“Those old bikes are so comfortable and smooth. And they ride great. Some people prefer them to the new stuff.”

“No shit? Even with the shifters? You gotta reach down to change the gears, man. Nowadays it’s all on the handlebars. I’d feel kind of uncool, you know? Riding an old bike like that.”

“You show up on that thing and people will admire the hell out of it. Those bikes have class and style.”


“Really. Like dropping your kid off at school in a ’66 Corvette.”

“When I get home can I send you a picture of it? You can tell me if you think it’s okay to ride.”

“Sure. But it worked for your brother. It’ll work for you. It’s waiting to save your life. That’s what it lives for.”

I got back to the office and a few hours later the picture had arrived.




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42 thoughts on “The lives of a bike”

  1. Gosh. You almost make me want to get back on my bike! But I don’t have a pretty green Bianchi, and am pretty sure people in PV still hate cyclists….. 🙁

  2. Thank you for such a fun morning read. This will keep me smiling all morning

  3. joe notarnicola

    that bike is so light the dudes got it hooked to the floor to keep it from floating away…

    1. Yes. And the one after that with me on my Nishiki. That I don’t yet have.

      1. I’ll ignore Brown and Silver ’83 Nishiki Internationals that aren’t 58cm.

  4. Oh the humanity! I can’t believe he has such a pretty bike hanging upside down in his garage while it’s whispering, “Take me for a ride!”

  5. Great story, WM! I’ll be smiling all afternoon.
    She’s a beauty and ready to be enjoyed.
    I hope he gets on that beautiful old bike and rides a couple of miles, and remembers how it feels to fly, again.

    Thanks for putting in this good work!

  6. “Was it green by any chance?” – first laugh of the day. Great looking bike.

  7. Great stuff! Hopefully you’ve nudged him enough that he gets back into it, and builds a little momentum. If so, it will change his life and health for the better!

  8. Good story. I have a friend who has a brother, who had a Bianchi sitting in his garage, and my friend was looking to get back on a bike after a number of years off of one. A Bianchi can do that for you!

    By a minor coincidence, his is green as well.

  9. I have a nice Peugeot, that some one who will go unnamed convinced me to sell.

  10. Steven Bernard

    Started riding on a $10 yard sale Fuji and lost 40 lbs year one 15 years ago. Been riding ever since. Donated the Bike to a nice kid. Get him on the bike, he’ll never regret it.

    1. I’m pretty sure you’re right. The easiest sell is often the person who got busy and either hung up the bike or built an upside down garage around it. He hasn’t been keeping that bike for 30 years for no reason, right?

  11. If you could only get this story to people who don’t already know what we know, you know? A little inspiration to get going.

  12. “Like dropping your kid off at school in a ’66 Corvette”

    THAT remark alone might tip the scale and get his butt out on the damn bike!

    Next time tell him you know a hundred people who’d like to be seen in public on that Bianchi.

  13. Some people don’t know what they have until someone like you comes along and tells them, “the answer was right here all along…take it, let it change your life.”

    Well done, well done indeed.

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