Old bikes and longnecks

As a child I remember loving riding my dinky little white BMX because of the freedom it gave me, I always felt like I was flying on two wheels - I loved riding through puddles after it rained.  As a teenager I remember spending countless weekends by myself wondering around on my rigid GT Palomar MTB exploring the surrounding suburbs.  What I really loved was exploring new places and suburbs, I'd remember just packing my backpack with some food, some tools and a spare and I'd head off in some random direction and see where I'd end up.  At that stage in my life I was obsessed with bikes, mountain bikes in particular.  I'd spend so much time bugging the guy at the local bike shop, I was one of those annoying kids who would hang around there after school every day.

I'd spend so much time working on my bike flipped upside down in the laundry, I'd be forever fiddling with the derailleurs and brakes (they were cantilevers so you could fiddle with them forever) for no real apparent reason.  I then upgraded this bike to a Haro Vector MTB with Rock Shox forks on the front and V-Brakes, this was a revelation!  At the time it was about $500 or so which seemed like a lot to a 15yr old.

A few years later the bug wore off, and my bike sat unused outside for years.  I maybe rode it once in about 5 years.  My obsession moved onto cars, vintage VW's in particular which consumed my passion for another couple of years.  It wasn't until I moved out of home from suburbia into inner city Sydney.  I took my bike with me as well as my old '63 Beetle, I would ride to uni and for short trips which made a lot of sense.  I left it outside a friend's place locked to a pole with a cable lock one night and came back to find it gone, the theif lifted it over the no-standing sign by using a shopping trolley to stand on.   Even though this bike, which I barely cared about, never maintained and always neglected - I felt my heart skip a beat.  I had a lot of memories with this bike, it's buggered headset which was eternally loose and inappropriate downhill tyres, the many times I went out, got blind drunk and rode home.  It served me well and this was the end.  I got a lift home with my friend, slumped over in the back seat, upset over my crappy old bike.

 About a week later I was walking home from uni past Redfern station in Sydney when I saw an old aboriginal woman wearing my helmet and pushing along my bike with a longneck in hand, along with a guy who was also longneck in hand.  I immediately went right up to her and said "hey that's my bike give me it back! I'm a poor student and that bike was stolen last week".  She replied that she couldn't give it to me because she had borrowed it from her nephew.  I had thoughts of just grabbing the bike and running, although I was a bit worried because there was two of them.  She introduced herself as "Sandra" who lived on The Block and suggested that I could go speak to her nephew myself at his house, I asked where his house was and she replied Northcott.  For those not familiar with Surry Hills in Sydney, the Northcott centre is a public housing block which is somewhat notorious to say the least.  I refused and she asked me for my phone number, she said she'd call me in a few hours and we parted.

Soon after I was kicking myself, I was thinking I should have just grabbed it and ran, they were both most likely drunk anyway and would have no chance of catching me.  I spent the next couple of hours re-enacting myself grabbing the bike and pedalling away furiously with the pair left dumbfounded.  Suddenly my phone rang and it was Sandra, she told me to meet her at the place we met in 15 minutes.  It was at a public place about 20m from a police station, but I still took my flatmate with me.  I had imagined that they'd probably be waiting for me with even more people waiting to mug my poor student ass.

I arrived there and Sandra was there, gave me back my bike and my helmet and apologised.  She said her nephew had bought it off some dodgy friend for $30 and he had no idea that it was stolen.  All she asked for was some change for the train which I gave her.    After all this, I ended up riding this bike for a few years again still, eventually I started putting more miles on it and finally did some maintenance.  Only about a year ago I donated the bike to the local community bike workshop The Nunnery.

I wasn't too upset this time as I'd actually chosen it's fate and I had 4 bikes at the time.   It was better to give it to someone who could use it rather than it rotting away in my backyard.   Funnily enough I was walking home a month ago and I came across this house with about 50 bikes all piled up in the front yard, all chained up - one of them was my Haro.

This made me a little sad, that some hoarder had got it and that it was only going away from rotting in my backyard to someone else's a few blocks away.  I guess it kind of balances out my luck.


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