How we Roll: Diamondback in Afghanistan

diamondback-in-afghanistan

Editor’s note: This story first appeared in Bicycle Times issue #19, published in October 2012. Words and photos by Josh Parker.


I wouldn’t consider myself a competitive cyclist by any means, rather a bike enthusiast. The day before I left for Afghanistan, my wife and I found an old, beaten Diamondback priced at $50 at the local used sports shop. A brief haggle and $35 later, we left. The next day, I proudly wheeled our find onto the transport jet and headed overseas with the rest of my unit.

I’m pretty sure everything on the bike was original, down to the tires and tubes. All telling the story of a past life spent under the Arizona sun. Classic lines, a lugged frame and forgiving steel. An actual leather seat long past its prime. This Ridge Runner was one of the first of its kind in 1983.

Scrounged from bits of scrap lying around the compound, I built a rear rack to carry my laundry. Two hose clamps and some bottle cage parts compose the cup holder mounted to the top tube, borne from necessity after a one-handed close call balancing an early morning coffee. New tires after the originals gave way in dramatic fashion one hot afternoon. A “borrowed” saddle from the deserted skeleton of a discount store special when the old seat clamp disintegrated on a rocky road. And plenty of TLC.

More than just a convenience or some easy exercise, this old machine transformed steel and rubber into freedom. A taste of autonomy in a place with precious little. Thanks for the inspiration.

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