I was cruising along on my circa 1987 Nishiki Manitoba bicycle when I realized my tire was going flat. Now this bike has seen some miles. One Spring my brother and I put together all of our birthday money from grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, our lawn mowing money and anything else we had made and told dad we wanted to get some mountain bikes. Living in rural New Mexico there were not many bike shops and we knew that Cycle Cave in Albuquerque was the coolest of them all. This is long before the big sports stores and the Walmart that now offers virtually everything in my hometown. We set off one Saturday morning and drove the four hours to Albuquerque dreaming of the bikes we would buy. We arrived at the cycling paradise with everything you could imagine in a store that was huge for an 11 year old. We shopped and shopped and finally decided on the Nishiki Manitoba. It had everything you could want…and we could afford it! We bought two of them that matched, but mine was slightly larger as I was a bit taller at the time. We loaded up the pickup, got some dinner and started the drive home. Now, my dad always liked to drive late into the night, who knows why, but when we pulled off the road at the Bosque Del Apache in Fort Sumner, I came to realize it was a lack of funding that kept us from the cozy hotel down the road. We slept for a few hours in the pickup and then started home.
It was first light one Sunday morning when we drove into Portales and dad dropped us off at C&S Oil to fill up our tires and ride across town to get home. We raced, we sped, we crossed the University campus at record speeds and made it home to see Dad had woken up mom and my sister (it was well before 7 AM) and they were smiling as we road up triumphantly on our new bikes. It was glorious. We weren’t sure who we beat, but we were the victors…maybe it was life itself that we had beaten…maybe it was having something new when we were struggling through the Agricultural depression…maybe it was that those bikes represented freedom to ride anywhere in town mom would let us. Freedom, ultimate freedom.
Today I looked at my tire that has been replaced multiple times and now has several holes and needs to be replaced again. The seat is the same one that I rode that day so long ago…and it’s not comfortable…the paint is faded…logically it’s time to move on with a new bike. But as I look at this bike I remember a trip with Dad, a race with my Brother and the moment where we raced like the wind across town to get home before Dad. He beat us that day, but it didn’t matter, we were all smiles in that moment.
That moment will never come again. It lives only in my memory and that of my brother, sister and mom. Eventually no one will remember that moment. The bike reminds me of that day. When I move on to the next realm, get rid of it, it won’t mean anything to you…but to me, it’s a reminder of a moment in time that was beautiful.