Too late, baby

We both did our best on that last, cold day but, like Carole King said, it was too late, baby.

My trusty Townie, the bike that had been with me for 18 years, got stuck in first gear and, as I pedaled so furiously and yet so painfully slowly that my young companions had to pause frequently to laugh at me, I realized our relationship had run its course.

By that time, my Townie had no fenders, no kick stand and a torn seat that rested precariously on a bar that slammed down randomly. Still, it was hard to hang her up.

That bike was the best I ever knew — one of my most reliable and least opinionated companions.

She never judged, not once!, all those times I jumped on her in a panic when I forgot I had lent my car to a teen-aged offspring and needed to get somewhere in a hurry. During her early years in the family, she agreeably pulled an old yellow bike cart behind her so I could haul groceries and my daughter Molly to and from our various errands.

She was kind to my tall, old, stiff, creaky body and never forced me to hunch over her handle bars the way other bikes did.

And she was discreet! She never told a soul about the time my husband Vince ordered dinner from Pizza King and, having no other mode of transportation available at the time, rode my bike pick it up. Imagine a grown man on a Townie (once marketed as a “lady bike beach cruiser”) holding a pizza box in his upturned hand!

My bike and I aged together and each of us needed just a little more effort to get moving as the years went on. Some things sagged, others spread and we both thinned out in places we’d rather not.

I still thought we’d have a few more good years together.

But, you can’t travel through life in first gear if you want to get anywhere. We both know that.

So, I hung up my old friend on a hook in our garage this weekend, and I bought a new bike….a blue Townie that is the exact replica of my old one. I had a great time breaking her in yesterday, but I felt a little sad for my old bike and I feel like Ms. King was talking about us when she wrote It’s Too Late.

It used to be so easy, livin’ here with you
You were light and breezy, and I knew just what to do
Now you look so unhappy and I feel like a fool And it’s too late, baby, now it’s too late
Though we really did try to make it (we can’t make it)
Somethin’ inside has died
And I can’t hide and I just can’t fake it
Oh, no, no

I couldn’t find any action shots of us back in the day, but that’s my old friend hanging there on our garage ceiling, which has become something of a retirement home for old bikes we’re too lazy sentimental to discard.
And this is me last night on my new bike, as shot by a young friend of mine. I’m a little prickly about all the layers I’m wearing because May sometimes forgets to come to Wisconsin, but I had a good sort of sleety ride anyway.
Three of us were lucky enough to get new bikes this year, so this is how we roll. You may think that Townie in the middle is out of her league, but, even with her nice soft seat and “crank forward design”, she holds her own against those speedsters.

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