Marolt: Taking my bike for granted instead of for a ride
Fixing up your house is like writing a novel — you’ll never finish either one. First of all, one thing always leads to another, so there ends up being a lot more to it than when you thought it was a good idea to start the project. And second, neither will ever be perfect, even though you think just a little tweak here and a slight alteration there are the finishing touches. It’s why I buy touch-up paint by the gallon and have 16 “final drafts” stored on my hard drive.
We just finished redoing our bathroom. It looks so dang good that the bedroom now looks like hell, so we have to redo it. And the bedroom’s connected to the hallway, the hallway’s connected to the kids’ bathroom and so on. The good news is that I’m learning some new skills. The bad news is that I’m learning by trial and lots of error. My general contractor, who fixes my mistakes, smiles every time I pick up a screwdriver. He doesn’t even wait for my phone calls anymore; he just stops by every morning, grabs a cup of coffee and starts adding to his to-do list.
For all of this, an odd thing occurred to me: I haven’t ridden my bike in over a month. It’s not like I’ve missed it, either.
What’s remarkable is that I used to love riding my bike. I’m a guy who pretty much rode back and forth to my real job in Aspen almost every day, May through October. I took pride in beating the summer traffic jams by skirting them on the bike paths. I was a fixture on the Droste trails and as common a sight on the Government Trail as the elk are along Owl Creek Road. My arms were tanned to a dark shade of basal-cell brown, and my rear end was as resilient as rawhide and numb as a paddleboarder’s toes.
Here’s the thing, though: I didn’t conscientiously give up biking this summer. It’s far worse than that. I forgot about it! Seriously! I have been so busy with this project of rebeautifying my neglected-for-child-rearing, 23-year-old house that it hasn’t crossed my mind to pull down the bike and ride into work since May. Some of it has to do with me needing a car for my daily raid on Ace Hardware, but I can’t blame it all on that. Lots of times it just slipped my mind.
Sure, like everyone else, I’m getting older and I forget things, but one thing I’m almost certain of is that I haven’t forgotten what I really love to do. I know this because almost nothing except the bare minimum on the husband side of things gets done at my house during ski season. It’s never a surprise to wake up to a huge honey-do list the day after the lifts close for the season. I admit it — during ski season I’m a duct-tape and baling-wire kind of guy who just keeps things functioning at bare-minimum standards. Offseason is the time to work hard to build things back up so they can start falling apart again when the snow flies in November.
What I think is really going on here is that I’ve ridden my bike so much throughout the years that I don’t even see it in the garage anymore. I take it for granted! I know it’ll be there when I want it. I can always go for a spin tomorrow. When I’m away from it, I don’t miss it anymore.
OK, OK — I know a lot of you who are into metaphors and enjoy reading between the lines are thinking this is not about a mountain bike at all and is really a story about a middle-aged man who has been married for almost 25 years and has entered that time of life when you start to believe a “good” combover is hardly noticeable and a used red Ferrari is a savvy $75,000 investment and worth taking out a second mortgage for.
That is not the case. I love my wife. She is beautiful, unforgettable and the reason I “enjoy” working to make our home attractive and comfortable. Without her, I would likely be living in a cave.
This truly is a story about a man who has forgotten about his bike and is not sure why and wondering if it will ever be as special to him again. I’m afraid answers will have to wait. I need to run down for some more caulk and a piece of molding.
Roger Marolt loves hardware stores but not visiting them three times a day. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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