Hey, Just Ride 21

Keeping my speed at a reasonable pace on my Saturday morning drive became quite a challenge with my heart and mind racing at breakneck velocity. I couldn’t get to Silverton quick enough.

My imagination soared with the glorious possibilities dancing in my head. I’m not much of a bike geek when it comes to actual bicycles. That said, there are two bikes I’ve coveted from the time I first laid eyes on them: Ibis Mojo and Ibis Hakkalugi.

So you can imagine my euphoria when an ad on craigslist popped up with both bikes for sale — in near mint condition. The ad was posted by the owner’s granddaughter, noting her grandpa couldn’t ride anymore and was parting with his steeds, with no more information than the make and model.

I pulled into a mobile home park, a nice one, with some really well-maintained homes and finely trimmed lawns. When I got to the address, it was one of the more weathered homes, suffering from lack of attention.

Grandpa’s daughter (they prefer to remain anonymous) met me at the patio door, and welcomed me inside. Various boxes with anything from outdoor supplies to lawn equipment packed the porch, not unlike my garage.

She went to get the Mojo first. Then grandpa stepped onto the porch, all about 5-foot-2 of him. My heart sunk. I’m 5-10.

Right behind, a small white Mojo rolled out on flat tires, looking, well, little and kinda cute. Since I spent most of the past 30 years hopping on rental and borrowed bikes of all sizes with nary a care in the world, I didn’t surrender just yet. My body adjusts rather easily, er, at least it used to.

I went out to the Santa Fe to get my tire pump. Once I got the tires inflated, I rolled around the neighborhood. Dang, just a wee bit too small to make it work even though every … single … cell … in my essence begged to find a way.

By the time I got back, they had the Hakkalugi rolled out, looking equally untouched and undersized, and my heart found a way to take a deeper dive. Do you want to see the Felt? they asked. I shook my head, in a daze not realizing there was yet another hidden gem.

Of course, none of them knew much about the used bike biz, and they listed them close to original price since they were practically brand new — probably why I had been the only one to respond to the ad. I came well armed with the Bicycle Blue Book estimates, hoping I could wrangle a deal.

Grandpa and I got to talking. He was a big-time cyclist for years and years. Did lots of centuries and double-centuries. He retired late in life and finally prepared to thrive in his golden years, planning to do some touring, so he treated himself to a couple of sweet bikes. Like me, two he always pined for: Mojo and Hakkalugi.

Then, he had a stroke. He never regained his balance. Couldn’t even get his leg over the top tube.

Grandpa stood there with his hand against the wall to support him, unshaven for a few days with what little hair remained around his bald spot springing every which way. He looked like any older man I’ve admired after the finish a long ride.

I revealed my cycling past and asked his daughter for a pen and paper. I explained they needed to adjust their pricing if they really wanted to sell, and I wrote new ads for them highlighting all the components, as well as the frame sizes.

I noted the Hakkalugi is a 2012, and thought about those bikes just sitting there for him to look at for the past 10 years. Pure torture.

A few months passed with the ads appearing on craigslist. Eventually the Mojo disappeared for a few weeks, only to pop up from another town. Someone obviously bought it and looked to turn a profit.

I couldn’t get those bikes out of my head, and that’s when the concept of “If Bikes Could Talk” resurfaced. I still had the number, and called to see if grandpa would sit down and tell me his story of his bikes.

His granddaughter said grandpa had moved into hospice. Ironically they were holding one final estate sale the next day. They still had the Hakkalugi.

Once again, my heart and mind sprinted through the 40-minute drive to Silverton. I had to park two blocks away as a stream of shoppers flowed in and out through the patio doorway — in empty-handed, out with arms filled.

I strolled in and wondered far beyond what the bikes could tell me as grandpa’s life surrounded me. No doubt an avid hunter, given the rifles and bows. Then, tucked in the far back room, his bikes — no one else the least bit interested.

Two of them remained, the Ibis Hakkalugi (47cm) and a fine Felt F5 (51cm) in even more pristine condition — the lack of wear hit me with a tsunami of sadness.

Next to the bikes were two pairs of brand-new cycling cleats, also never worn, along with a grocery bag packed with various apparel.

The longer I stood there looking at this tragic tale, the more it became part of my story. That’s the blessing and the curse of being a writer. The soulful attachment that sneaks up out of nowhere.

My younger daughter is 5-foot-2, and has been searching for a nice road bike. We found one a few years back on craigslist. It was stolen from the locked bike room in her college apartment complex, two titanium locks cut right through.

Right now she’s riding a city commuter, but wants to get back to longer road rides soon, maybe train for a triathlon having just run a half marathon. That sounded like a reasonable story my wife might actually buy into.

So I looked for the granddaughter. Making deals left and right, she had her hands full. I waited about 20 minutes for a break in the action, then went up for a chat.

What’s your bottom line on the bikes? I asked.

Make me an offer, she replied.

I figured I’d go way low, not ridiculously low, and could come back up. Let the bartering begin.

I tossed out my offer, probably what one of them alone might fetch, figuring she’d say, for which one?

Sure, she said, stunning me to utter silence, I know grandpa would want you to have them.

I can’t say a bike or bikes had ever been the trigger for tears before.

From now on I can’t say they have never been.

I dished out the cash.

Oh, how much for the bag and the shoes?

Just take em, she said. They’d just go to Goodwill tomorrow.

When I got home, I unpacked the bag. Everything brand new, maybe used once or twice at the most:

Three lightweight jackets.

Two riding shirts.

Two regular cycling jerseys.

Two pairs of baggy cycling shorts.

Three pairs of riding gloves, one full-finger.

Four pairs of cycling socks.

A vest.

One pair of Giro cleats.

One pair of Shimano cleats.

I’ll never have to buy any bike apparel again.

I rode the Hakkalugi around the neighborhood once. Just a pinch too small, but, damn, what a fine ride. My road bikes days are in my rearview mirror. I sorta knew that.

I kinda promised the Felt to my daughter, although I also have a nice Giant her size that we use on the trainer. We’ll see. I’m sure whatever she takes will eventually get stolen in Eugene, the bike theft capital of the US, so I’ll push for the Giant. I’m not sure I could emotionally handle losing one of these bikes to a thief.

So, the Hakkalugi and Felt hang in my garage. I kinda want to sell them, but kinda not. I’m torn. They call to me. I know I won’t just sell them to anyone. They at least deserve that much from me.

I just know that If Bikes Could Talk, they’d say they want me to find owners who will ride ‘em into the ground, for now and forever.

They’d also be barking and begging for action every time I walk out with my cycling gear on, something like “Me, Me, Me, Me” or “My turn, My turn …”

They’d no doubt curse me as I roll away without them. Probably give me the silent treatment when I return.

When I do get back from my rides, my heart aches for them. They’ll have their days in the sun sometime, I’m sure of that, because I know their stories aren’t finished just yet.

Grandpa always believed in a happy ending.

Me too.

Time to ride.

Hey, Just Ride and the other words and images on The Cycling Independent are brought to you by the very fine folks at Shimano North America. Check out their stuff by clicking on the image below.

Join the conversation
  1. khal spencer says

    I hate low balling people. Figure one should pay for what something is worth. I once got kicked out of a local gun control group because they were holding a buy back and I got on the radio and said if someone had an old gun that they didn’t want but didn’t know the value of, take it to a good appraiser. After all, one would not want to see a classic worth hundreds or thousands of dollars sawed up for a $100 buck gift card. Had that almost happen to my aunt once. Fortunately, I got there and told her the dusty old rifle under the bed was a collector’s item.

    If someone lowballs someone and then turns a profit on a bike, that person should be cursed with thousands of goatheads per day.

  2. John Rezell says

    I’m not sure if you just cursed me with thousands of goatheads or not

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