This was the last one of the series, and I didn’t know that until I wrote it—until, specifically, I had sat there for a long time wondering how to finish the story and trying for something funny lots of different ways without anything working then got that last paragraph and when it was done, when the period was on the sentence I mean, I knew the whole thing had come to an end.
Promised friend a Coke machine would be in the valley before the last huge climb at mile 80 of a century on a hot summer day.
Told Beth I could indeed, no problem hon, fix her crooked shifter as we were riding, and that of course we wouldn’t need at all to stop if she would just apply counterforce to her handlebar when I smacked the hood with my hand.
Purchased, wore, was proud of fanny pack.
Willed myself to believe I believed pro racers who lied about doping, long after I should have known better. Then spent similarly unseemly amount of time judging them rather than trying to understand them.
Thought steel was better than aluminum. Thought aluminum was better than steel. Thought carbon fiber was better than aluminum and steel. Thought aluminum and steel were better than carbon fiber.
Appreciated titanium, but only ever appreciated it.
In extended illusion about what being adult meant, let a job—a job, for crying out loud—make me forget I was a cyclist of the certain kind that can never not be a cyclist.
While riding, noticed loosening handlebar plug jiggling, decided to, while still riding, pop it right back in by slapping it with my palm.
For brief but rueful period, missed so, so, so damn many good, fun rides because I wanted to train.
Never went on a bicycle ride with my father.
“I can bridge to that.”
“I’ll never bridge to that.”
Took for granted too many times, when I was riding with my daughter, riding with my daughter.
Have sent uncountable number of bolts and multiple components to their deaths with “just one more quarter turn.”
The last time my good old dog Lucy acted like she wanted to go trail riding with me, I thought that no, she was too sick and it would be bad for her.
Purchased, wore, was not proud of Carrera original, 1990s faux-jeans bibshorts.
Gave them away.
Gave so much away. Kept so little, like all of us I suppose, but just enough, just enough so that when I reach for what I really need when I really need it, memories like these are there.
Originally published in The Selection, May 2, 2014