We bought our city bikes back when we were cool. Before we had kids and a mortgage, back when our clothes were in fashion and we regularly had hours, and even days, of obligation-free leisure time.
My husband, Tom, and I were newly married, just starting our careers, and had a little walking around money for the first time. We also finally had an apartment with a garage. So we decided to upgrade our bikes. Being the kind of couple who accidentally choose matching outfits with some regularity, I wasn’t surprised that we both picked Trek District series 9-speed city bikes. Mine was an adorable steel framed men’s bike in metallic blue with matching fenders and a front basket. Tom, who is much sportier than I am, chose a pared-down aluminum frame in cream. They were so cool. We loved them. We rode them to work on nice days and to brewpubs and festivals on the weekends. We rode them to backyard bonfires, Twins games, and pretty much every bar and restaurant in Minneapolis.
Later on we rode them to look at houses with our Realtor. And we moved them into our very own garage when we bought our first house. I was afraid to ride mine when I got pregnant for the first time. But then we rode them to our favorite watering hole for cocktails and cold deli meats when I lost that pregnancy.
Our family grew and we got more, less cool bikes. We got an e-cargo “Bakfiets” trike with bench seats for the kids. A Strider, a first pedal bike. A vintage Schwinn for out-of-town family members to use when they stayed with us. But we kept our cool bikes, even if Tom’s looked a little less cool with the Yepp Maxi mount attached now.
We rode them to Pizza Luce after the kids went to bed and remembered what it felt like to be the cool young people who first bought them.
Earlier this year, Tom was diagnosed with cancer. He rode his bike to his doctor appointments and his chemotherapy infusions. I rode mine to visit him in the hospital after he had surgery. It was nice to have those moments of biking joy during otherwise joyless times.
A week ago Saturday, we rode our cool bikes for the last time. Actually, I didn’t even ride mine — I rode the Bakfiets with the kids, and my mom, who was visiting from out of town, rode mine. My dad rode the Schwinn and Tom rode his, to Open Streets Minnehaha. Someone must have seen our cool bikes and wanted them for themselves. Because on Sunday morning, our garage had been broken into and our cool bikes — and only those two bikes — were gone.
I’m sure that to the thieves, our bikes are just things, just cool-looking objects that they wanted and took. And it’s true, they are just things. But they’re also our memories, our past, parts of who we are and always will be, even as our lives move forward and change. They became especially ours with each ride, the little dings and personal modifications, the brass bell and the matching U-lock. I can’t help feeling like a little piece of us was stolen too.
We will get new bikes, but they won’t be as cool.