The lucky ones out there might even get something as cool as the 18-speed Schwinn mountain bike I got in the photo above (also, note the 286 computer in the background that taught me to use DOS). I rode that bike until three years ago. By the time I was done with it, the seat post was bent (bike was too small and I ignored the max height line), the rear hub was demolished (the result of an early bike repair learning experience…) the grips were taped together with gaff tape, the front derailleur and shifter were broken, and the saddle had been punctured in a dozen places during a hail storm and filled with water when it rained.
As a child, this bike took me beyond my block. For the first time in my life I could go to the park or the mall under my own power and on my own time. Later in life, I learned to ride safely in traffic while riding this bike. Soon after, I started riding to work every day. I installed a rear rack and zip-tied a big milk crate to it that could hold three bags full of groceries (not counting the ones in my backpack).
I rode this bike in Critical Mass during the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, my first experience riding with a huge group of happy, energetic and inspiring people. I left that ride empowered and determined that I didn’t need to “hope” for change anymore, I could make it happen.
Feeling empowered by how much I could accomplish with just this bicycle, I sold my car (and have never missed it).
As we packed up to move from Denver to Seattle, I realized this bike had taken me as far as we would go together. Its mounting problems were not a big deal in flat Denver, but I knew I would want something in better shape for my introduction to hilly Seattle. But it was still rocking, so I gave it to a friend who was considering getting a bike for the first time in years.
It’s incredible how many times that one gift changed my life. I am so happy today that I get to write about biking in Seattle just about every day. It never gets old. Thank you all for reading and supporting the site.
Have a wonderful holiday season. And remember, the days get longer from here on out!