In Loving Sympathy
In Loving Sympathy: Even a Bike Eventually Has to Go
Gertrude died the other day. My best friend and I quietly mourned her passing, mulling over the memories we had of her, briefly thought about burying her whole and intact and then thought better of it. It really would be a lot of work burying that big beast of a bike, after all. Gertrude was a mutt of a bike, a real ugly momma if you got right down to it, but boy could she serve up a mean dish of watch-me-go when she wanted to. Sometimes the ugliest hide can protect a heart of pure gold- in her case, it was a heart of pure speed.
We called her Gertrude because she just was not a pretty bike. She belonged to my friend Jaa and I equally, although she spent most of her time with Jaa. Ol' Gertie was a little too tall for my tastes and besides, Jaa had the extra garage space. We had started off looking for a nicer name, a younger name, hell, a prettier name, but try as we might we could not find one of those that fit the old girl at all. She was not a single one of those adjectives, but truth be told, I wouldn't have bet against her in a race with bikes half her age. She did not look like any bike out there, mainly because she was cobbled together by so many other parts, but also because of all the bikes, hers was an almost human quality.
One beautiful sunny day, we took turns screaming that hound of a bike up and down a straight stretch that would have had cops from four counties drooling to nail us. There was never a hesitation in her, never a sound other than the grumbling roar of her motor and our delighted squeals as we roared past each other, hectoring and teasing as we did. A few days later, we took Gertie out again, but the day was gray and it had rained earlier. Try as we might, we could not coax the bike any faster than 50. Meh, we shrugged, she was getting old, maybe a tune up would make her feel better. A few days later, alone, I took her back out and she was back up to speeds that had my adrenaline red lining, so we all started to wonder.
As the years passed, we started to catch on to her rhythms, her almost motherly approach to speed and recklessness. Give her a clear, cloudless day and a reasonably straight stretch of road and ol' Gertie would blast out the rpms. Let there be curves or rain and she would mope along at granny speeds. We both have other bikes, but Gertie was more than that in a lot of ways. Rest in piece Gert, bless your ugly, oil-filled little heart.