Thursday, September 10, 2009

Goodbye IRO

My faithful everyday bike, which hasn't really seen a whole lot of use in the past year, is going to a new home.

I got this bike in 2005. Prior to that, I had a junky fixed gear conversion, and wanted something a bit more held-together. It was the first time I had bought myself something nice - other than my guitar amp. I used it to go on my first "long ride," from NYC's Chinatown to my parents' house in Bergen County, NJ. Almost twenty miles, stopping every now and then on the West Side Bike Path to tug the toestraps tighter. That ride made me decide that I wanted to be a little bit healthier, to get better at riding this bike.

Then I took it with me to live in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where it was a valuable companion in that lonely city. I used it to explore the seaside, the factories, the quiet and ramshackle neighborhoods. When my time there was up, I took it to the Bronx and discovered the fun and odd world of urban cycling. I got hit by a livery cab making a capricious u-turn underneath the elevated 2/5 on Westchester Avenue, which led me to get chewed out by a rookie cop posing tough for his partner, and hugged by the tearful, fearful, and carelss driver who was so relieved I was okay (and I was relieved that the bike was fine). I rode the Tour de Bronx and hoped that I'd be introduced to the person riding the yellow KHS. I rode Critical Mass and met the rider of the KHS. She doesn't have the KHS anymore, but a few other really nice bikes are filling up our bike room.

Soon I was swinging my leg over its handlebars for alleycat races. Some respectable finishes made me catch a racing bug that led me to get a track bike, a road bike, and a cyclocross bike - after racing the IRO on the Kissena Velodrome, taking it up and down 9W, and throwing some knobbies on it and racing it at StatenCX. Anywhere I went it took me there first.

It's gone through saddle swaps, a myriad handlebar configurations, and more wheel swaps than I can count. I think I even had matching wheels on it for a month or two. Once, in a pinch, I attached a threadless stem to its seatpost, put some bullhorns in it, and taped a bunch of cargo to this impromptu rack. I slowly and haphazardly added stickers. Spending two winters working food delivery shifts helped transform it from the pretty (if simple) thing I adored to a rugged tool that got thrown against poles, covered in snow, and rattled senseless over cobblestones. Other bikes got babied - the Pogliaghi, the Felt, the Co-Motion. And then, they too went through a similar transformation. At Fawn Grove I winced as gravel bounced all over the race course, flying off tires, not because they were slamming into my shins (though they were), but because they were slamming into my road bike's downtube. And halfway, as my body was well in the red, my head changed, and the bike had become what the IRO had become - a tool.

But with a new bike on the way, built for more specific uses, the IRO has got to go. A bike stable should keep sentimentality to a minimum, I think, and even when living space isn't at the same premium at which it used to be, the inclination toward maximum-bike ought to be curbed.

It's not the bike - it's the memories.


  1. Very nice, thanks. Sums up how I feel about things I've sold, especially's the ones that are stolen that sucks, the 1952 Gibson ES-135 that USAir took, and the Ibanez Strat copy, my first electric, that I left in a famous actor's closet when I was working on a show at Steppenwolf and was gone the next day, that really suck. Sounds like you and the IRO had a blast

  2. Very nice - great way to commemorate the passing of a favorite ride. Fortunately, it's passing into a new life with a new owner - but you'll always have the memories. Thanks for sharing them with us.

  3. Thanks you two. Billy, USAir took a 52 Gibson? What the hell?!

    I've been fortunate enough to avoid stolen bikes thus far in NYC, but came too close for comfort when I came out of Guitar Center on 14th St to find the chain holding my Pogliaghi to a meter clipped most of the way through. A sphincter-clenching moment, to be sure.

  4. What kind of guitars? Spend my formative years playing pretty much up and down Bleecker Street. Main guitar is a '73 Les Paul. Backup is a '68 ES-335. Haven't been in a band since I went to Italy. Miss it pretty much every day.

  5. Ah, good. Now I don't feel so bad about giving up my single speed (which I rarely ride) to get a cyclocross bike.