Never forgetting the bicycle
by Mr. Sheehy
Someday I’ll call Matt for the first time since college and when he answers the phone I’ll say only this: “Hey Matt. It’s Geoff. Are you ready?” His likely answer: “Yes, where should I meet you?”
With that we’ll head to a coast line and begin pedaling towards the other ocean.
It’s a funny dream for a guy who doesn’t own a bicycle, but it’s mine anyway. Biking was the thing to do when I was younger. I grew up in a small town with fewer than 5,000 people and if I wanted to get somewhere there was no reason I couldn’t pedal there myself. Helmets were rarely necessary, and friends were always ready to accompany me. One friend and I spent an entire summer riding around looking for places to swim. Our favorite was this girl Christy’s house, because she lived at the top of the biggest hill in town. We’d sweat like crazy riding to her place and she’d let us swim in her pool, which had a diving board. Then when it was time to go home we’d coast the whole way, sometimes reaching speeds that would likely have made our mothers sick. A buddy named Sasha lived at the top of that hill too, and he was famous for biking into town and then calling his mom begging for a ride home. If she wouldn’t come he’d hang around and wait until she was coming to town anyway.
I gave the bike I used back then to my dad when I got a road bike. In truth, the road bike was too big for me, but I loved how fast it went and how easily I could propel myself up hills with it. I road everywhere and when I went to college I mailed it so I could ride around campus. On campus I loved to test its worth as a mode of transportation. After dinner my house-mates and I would leave the cafeteria at the same time, they taking a car home, I taking my bike. Many days I would beat them by five minutes or more.
Around that time as I spent summers back home I’d explore dreams with my friend Matt. He was a fellow exercise nut, an All-New England soccer star and state champion-competing runner in 200/400 meters. One day as we sat on his porch watching traffic, we decided we would someday ride bicycles across the country, just because.
I ruined the plan a bit that year after college. While hanging around the Wheaton area waiting for my now-wife to graduate, I didn’t have many opportunities to ride and I neglected the bike. I left it chained to a fence outside my apartment building and one day noticed it was gone. It may not have been theft–I’d left it there so long the building’s owner might have considered it abandoned.
Now I am on a budget that is too tight for purchasing nice bicycles, and all I have to ride is the recumbent stationary exercycle in the basement. Oops.
I don’t have regrets over this–the bike didn’t really fit me and I had left it out untouched for months–but I do have a closet longing to ride, to spend a couple hours a week getting fit with wind in my face and pedals under my feet. I also have an open dream to make that phone call to Matt and see how big this country really is.
I’ll let you know if I ever do it.
Thanks for reading.