Opinion: Love the bike you have

By Jeffrey Stern

We’ve all experienced bike lust. You know, those days that your friend rolls up to your group’s adventure on a bike so new the chain is still silver, the hairs on the tires are still jutting out (assuming knobby tires here) and the frame just glistens in the sun.

Bike envy ensues.

The questions come from every which angle, “What kind of wheels did you go for?” “How does it handle?” “How MUCH did it cost?”

People reach for it, touch it, and want to pick it up to see how light it feels. They get off their bike and lean it against the curb just to crouch down to get a better look at the newest steed in the club.

The first part of the ride gets hijacked by someone’s new bike. Not the worst thing, but not the best. After the first mini wipes out, rock chip, or scratch to the new family member it becomes business as usual. It’s just another bike in the crowd. No better or worse than every other bike in the bunch. The allure wears off quickly.

They all have two wheels, a saddle, pedals, handlebars for steering, shifters in various spots with differing mechanisms for shifting. And more or less, they all function just about the same. Unless you’re the cream of the crop, touting professional racer status, a few pounds here or there, the 2011 version or the 2018 version are all pretty much the same thing. The graphics might change on this part or that, but in reality, once you start riding you can’t tell a huge difference. A well-loved, tuned, and maintained bicycle rides like a bicycle. It goes where you point it, stops on a dime, and delivers endless smiles year after year.

If you’re riding the right way, you’re engulfed in the experience–the wind blowing through your clothes and mud that your buddy just spattered on your face by aiming for that puddle in the middle of the trail. It certainly has nothing to do about the bike at that point and surely is all about the ride.

So, we encourage you to learn to love the bike you have. Give her (or him) a bath every so often. Give it a name to make it feel special. Get a bucket and a brush and scrub off the caked-on dirt, grit, and grime in every crevice. Learn the ins and outs of the steed that you spend so much time on. If something breaks, learn how to fix it. Maybe upgrade the part, or maybe not. Buy something more sturdy to replace it.

Ride your bike with pride. With each passing year that you take care of your bike and put on thousands of miles, it becomes more and more a part of you and who you are as a rider. The longer you keep it up and running, the more likely it will become a rare breed on the road. Show up to the group with a well-cared for, old school bike one day and watch the bike lust looks shift directions towards you.

“How have you kept your bike in such good condition after all these years?” you’ll probably hear.

Just smile and say, “Learn to love the bike you have.” And it will love you right back until the end of time.

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