I came home Saturday evening, just at dusk, after having walked downtown to run errands. I ambled up the driveway to the back door fumbling for keys with one hand; the other holding the afternoon’s spoils from my consumer expedition. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed something odd, a dark shadow between the leaves of the doors of my tool shed. The shadow was a gap, the doors were open and the compartment inside was empty. No more bicycle, bicycle pump, or helmet.
Someone with a very good grip or a crowbar had pried the lock and hasp off the face frame of the door and made off with my 30-year-old Uni Vega touring bike and all its accoutrements. It was a broad daylight crime committed by someone who is familiar enough with my habits to know that I’m away from the house most Saturday afternoons. More alarmingly, the thief knew which of the four pairs of doors harbored the bike. Someone had seen me take it out or put it away and knew exactly where to return for the prize.
Being male, my reaction wasn’t a feeling of invasion or even fear, I was angry. If I was in possession of a crow bar and the nape of the miscreant’s neck there’d have been some damage done.
But that won’t happen. This kind of petty crime is rarely solved and bicycles are easily disposed of, or dismantled for parts. I’d hate to think its sleek steel frame ended up in the river while the wheels were sold at a flea market.
It is slightly ridiculous to still be riding a bicycle that is older than most of my students. Over the years I’ve spent what it originally cost to replace parts and keep it maintained. The bike mechanics who tinkered with it looked at the all steel frame and leather wrapped handlebars as if it was ready for its place in the Smithsonian.
The absence of this treasured object has thrown a cloud over my days. It’s foolish to be so attached to an inanimate object, but the Uni Vega was tangible proof that I was young once, and free, at least in the hours when I was on the road with it.
I rode it all over Italy, the East Coast, and first explored my adopted home of San Antonio leaning into its handlebars. The quiet whirr of the wheels was the music for beautiful days in beautiful places. Black and silver and minimal, just touching it made me feel like a twentysomething again. There’s a little crispness in the dawn air today, summer is over and autumn is upon me.
- Michael Guarino