My bike is too tall


I am feeling ambivalent about my bicycle.

It's a gray road bike from the mid 90s. It says Aluminum Series 420 in red and black. Trek in red. The handlebars have been wrapped with mismatched tape ever since the Johns at the bike shop installed a new brifter (to my surprise, and for free when I brought it in for something unrelated). The matte black on the luggage rack is worn on the sides from the panniers I used to fill with groceries when I was car-free in college. There is a single googly eye still on the seat post from the 2010 Halloween bike race.

I'm the second owner. The first was my dad. Since he was a little taller than me, the bike is also a bit too tall. I haven't done a great job of maintaining it over the years, so it's not in the best shape and might even be dangerous to ride. For instance, it's missing two spokes right now. As a result, the bike sees less use than it should and that makes me sad.

Of course, it would be easy to take it in for a tune up. And since it would be easy, it never happens. Meanwhile I console myself with the thought that I will someday learn the skills to do it myself. Anyway, it's not worth paying someone else to do it since that money could be put toward a new bike that isn't too tall for me. Why learn to tune up a bike that's too tall when I will ultimately just get a properly sized bike eventually?

But it's been years, and I still do this clumsy mental dance.

This bike probably just needs to go away. However, the main thing that keeps me from pulling the trigger is that I will never be able to buy back the sentimental value. I have memories tied up in this thing dating back to trips to the bagel store on the corner with my dad and sister about twenty years ago (i.e., forever ago). Then there are the more recent, more vivid memories. The bike was there to zoom me from French class to optics class in the pouring rain. It was there when we took that turn too sharp and went down, sliding endlessly across wet asphalt. It was there as I kissed that girl behind her house as I held her with one hand and a handlebar with the other.

But it will never not be too tall for me.

And given the fact that I will not allow more than one bike into my life, as long as I have this thing I will forgo the pleasure of having a bike that actually fits me. Things change. Objects come and go and they can be decoupled from the memories associated with them. And anyway, it's probably good practice to get rid of something that's hard to get rid of on occasion in order to build up an immunity against over-encumbrance.