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?