On our travels we came across a stone stock, vitange Schwinn Collegiate three-speed and bought it for thirty bucks. My husband figured he would be the one to ride it, but as it turns out, he has Rotating Vibrationals and does not belong on anything except shoes. (Think of the headrush you get sometimes when you stand up too fast, and up the intensity by ten. This is a thing that happens to him. I cannot for the life of me remember what it's called, so it's been Rotating Von bar-martials, Reverbing Falls, and basically means that he'll get about five steps away from the chair he'd been sitting in for over an hour and suddenly collapse in a heap of Bikerage.)
This means that the perfection that is a mans vintage Schwinn is all MINE.
These were fantastic bikes. The slender bar frame means it responds to a twitch of the handlebars or the hips, a surprisingly nimble and light bike coming from the Schwinn Tank Factory.
Today for some God-unbeknownst reason I decided to hop on that sapsucker and take it for a spin.
Man, the thrill is still there.
I was able to ride that thing all over town, like nothing, like flying. Effortlessly. Oh, it needs some adjustment of the handlebars and the seat, but it has the 'flick' shift, and this blue dream goes along and ignores the state of the road. Like I said, adjustments need to be made, but after more years than I can remember offhand, I'm on a Schwinn again, and it's a quality Schwinn, made for commuting, and it's like riding a dragonfly. You skim over the pavement. It was 80f today (Hot, for my UK buds) and I didn't even crack a sweat, children! And the sheer joy of being back on a bicycle again - !
When I was in grade school, I was cursed with a vast, horrifying Columbia bike. Nowadays the fucking thing would be worth upwards of $1500.00, but at the time it was embarrassing and ugly and it got stolen a lot and vandalized because it was so very uncool. It was my albatross.
It was also the thing that built up my muscles and bones while I was still growing, manouvering that heavy, leaden, ugly beast around. I probably owe my current state of osteo-health to that bastard of a bike, that horrible embarrassment of a klunker, a thing so heavy that once I got it up to speed the pedal brakes would shriek. And when it was stolen, that's how I could tell where it was in the neighborhood, come to that.
God that bike embarrassed me, and I was not a popular kid to begin with. I can't count the times I found it lying in a field, or on a dirt hill, the air let out of the tires, the handlebars turned around, and have to walk it back home. I'll skip the Dickensian shit and just say that I took the blame for what other kids did to that bike. Every single time. Even when someone grabbed it out of my hands, or crashed into me and knocked me to the ground and took it. The fucking thing always ended up back in our garage, and I always ended up riding it to school every day, and having to park it down at the very end of the rack.
So much for that.
For Christmas, when I was 13, I was given a boys (I insisted) ten-speed Schwinn. The thing was just as heavy as my Columbia, but it had the right look. Add ramhorn handlebars and a generator headlight and suddenly, I was acceptable. I was also 13, and went to school five miles away from my house, so it was very, very seldom indeed that I rode the thing to school. But it never got stolen, and I was never ragged for owning it. I could park it in the rack and other kids would park their bikes next to it. That thing was all right.
It went to another owner when I moved out and into Portland. Back then, Portland Oregon was not a bike friendly city, and it was just taking up space in my apartment, serving no purpose.
Boy, today, on that bike, it felt So Right. And where I live is dead level, too. I have a basket for it; I can actually ride it to places and do errands with it, and I'm planning on doing that.
Man, like flying. Just like flying. Like no time has passed at all.