Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Sorry, Sugar

Open letter to my battle-scarred mountain bike:

Dear Old and Busted Sugar,

It seems you haven't been very happy with me lately. Seems like you're mad at the world. I guess I would be too, hunched against a damp corner with swamp water seeping out of my frame. We've been together, oh, about 18 months now - maybe you expected something better of your life. I just wanted you to know that this hasn't been easy for me, either.

I remember the day the UPS guy dropped you off. They called you a used bike, recently dumped by an anonymous eBay stranger, but you looked brand new to me. I still remember the first time we went out, joyriding the foothills outside Idaho Falls. We were both so young then, and inexperienced, and you seemed so fragile. I was terrified to get too close for fear you (we) would break.

Maybe that's how this all started. The early neglect. I had commitment issues. You were an inanimate object. Everything changed the day we up and moved to Alaska, with the winter setting in, I suddenly began to realize how much I needed you. I've had other bicycles, but they no longer mattered the day the snow started to fly. I only had studs for you.

But weren't those great times, Sugar? We were like a couple of newlyweds - spending every day together, rolling the frozen roads and trails, just you and me and the stunning quiet of those long winter nights. You weren't accustomed to the lifestyle, but everything was so bright and new that it didn't seem to matter. I didn't even notice the shadows beginning to creep in beneath your hubs, the resentment that started to build as ice caked your moving parts. I guess that's my fault. I was so excited about us, I never stopped to think about what you needed.

But it all started to come down when summer arrived, and our world changed from silence and snow to motion and mud. You could hardly comprehend the transition, and I wasn't much help - still so new to mountain biking, bouncing off rocks and somersaulting down hillsides. Those daylong races didn't help, and the strain started to show - broken spokes, bent fenders, chipped frame, and endless coats of grime, so thick that it no longer washes off. I thought you could take it. After all, you were my Sugar. But then came the rain rides ... then the slimy root roller derbies ... then, finally, swamp biking. I can see now the rust covering your once-bright bolts. I can hear the slight creak in your pedals. Your crank is so worn that the middle ring no longer holds tight to the chain, and I worry that I may have cut you down before your time, that you may not be long for this world. And yes, it's my fault.

There must be a way I can make it up to you. I know our relationship hasn't been a conventional one, but I wish there was a way I could make you understand that I always have, and still do, care about you. You may feel scarred by life, like the world has beaten down on you, but you have to know that. Can't you see? I hurt you because I love you. And love does hurt. It can be almost be no other way between a novice rider and her mountain bike. I know promising to take better care of you won't make up for 18 months of neglect and abuse. But I still need you, Sugar, and I'd really like to try.

Will you ever forgive me?



  1. Jill, for as much torment and punishment you've put that bike through.........it probably cowers everytime it sees you get anywhere close to it.

    You gotta get a Pugsley or something built to take the abuse.

  2. And here I promised myself I wouldn't cry...

  3. How touching. I would love to see the reply from your Sugar.

  4. Nice post - I feel like I have almost the same exact relationship/story with my e-bay special Specialized Epic. Interesting how bikes take on a personality : )

  5. It can be really hard to keep a healthy, balanced bike relationship going. It so easy to fall into a onesided, all take and little give pattern.

    Don't give up, this relationship CAN be saved, it's not too late.

    Find good bike dr for professional help so this won't happen again.
    My bike guy growls at me if I neglect my better half, it's enough to scare me into making sure it's well kept and happy

  6. My bike says thanks for the bath & extra lovin' she's going to get tonight...

  7. And what was Sugar's response?

    Do you get another chance??

  8. The tires I'll be sending won't fit on sugar --she don't have the hips for em-- but you can rebuild her into a Better, Stronger, Faster Lindsay Wagner and it'll cost less than Six Million dollars.

    Don't let Sugar near your new winter bike... If you do then you might find a house of horrors in your garage.

  9. Lovely story. It's the firing line of life that forges a great relationship. I'm sure you're forgiven.
    How else can love be shown than by so much attention. After all she is a beast of burden. Although innanimate maybe bikes, like dogs or horses know they are loved when they when their human companions give them the opportunity to work.

  10. Bah...ride it hard and put it away wet.

    Bikes love a good beating every now and then.

  11. I some how got here from my riding buddy's site minuscarproject...any way, I lived in Juneau for 10 months my bro-in-law and sis were camp directors at Echo Ranch for a while.

    I have a Trek that I need to ask forgivness from as well...cracked me up.


  12. As to Sugar's response,

    I hate to admit that Sugar doesn't really have a choice but to take me back. But I am hoping to give him a little TLC that will hopefully get us back on track this weekend.

  13. Give Sugar some love, some lube, some degreaser...whatever he needs. He's held you up (okay, except when you've crashed) for a long time. He's as important to this blog as you are. You could have done it without him, with someone else. But would it have been as rewarding?

    Give Sugar a big sloppy kiss and beg his forgiveness for some of what you've put him through. I'm willing to bet he thoroughly enjoyed more than half of what you're fretting over.

  14. yup, more than half. he enjoyed every minute of it. bikes are like that, ya know! :)

    peace out, yo!

  15. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to healing; now all you need is a new drivechain, dissassembling and regreasing the swing-arm assembly, regreasing the pedal spindles (or uprgrading) maybe getting a new set of wheels, replace the fluid and seals on your forks and shock and you're set for another eighteen months of unrepentent bike abuse. I'm definetely printing out a copy of this article to remind me to service my own bikes a bit more often. And is their anyway you can send some Alaska weather down here, we're into the second week of spring and it's bush fire season already.


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