The Athens Bicycle Co-operative

Athens, Ohio has a non-profit organization of volunteers that fix and play with bikes. The intent being to create a community of people who can enjoy bikes to their fullest. To do this we need a very active and savvy bike community. We further this goal by fixing bikes, teaching volunteers about bikes, creating an environment where volunteers can teach themselves about bikes, planning bike related events, and creating ways of getting more bikes to more people.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Queen of the fleet

Here is a piece of literature I wrote to a very special bike taxi, while she was being refurbished.


One of those mornings...
Dreams I cannot fully remember
yet there seemed so many.
One always stays with me,
its feeling remains prominent.
I would let it go by lunchtime.
But this one made my pen dance
for it was the one that crossed over.

I remember you carried me through dirty streets
littered, infested, polluted, hectic.
Your character was joyous, against odds.
Your condition was mediocre, rickety even.
A jalopy disrespected.
I conjure the image of your loosened handlebar.
I could remove it with a tug, but ride unaffected.
We were so happy, the four of us.
Me, my girl, and two piece of shit bicycles.
We laid in a discarded mattress, for refuge
from the big, dirty mess of a city.
I'm sure there was more to this dream...
a destination, more cohorts perhaps.
But the feeling was tantamount.

It didn't even make it 'till lunch, though.
I forgot you during the morning rituals.

My canine leashed, I ambulated.
For some reason, the river of waste
known as East State was to be crossed.
The opposite bank, near the visitors center
I checked the bike rack out of habit.
Two derelicts, one chained.
I didn't even have to decide what to do.
I pulled you from the rack, imagined your gasp.
How long had it been?
In relative terms, it could have been months.
But in the absolute, so little separated us.
Funny thing about the absolute, though...
it can be inches from your nose
and escape your notice.
It can be the air you breathe,
but your respiration remains involuntary.
And so, I didn't even recognize you.

We crossed back. I dared to get on -
knowing little more could harm you at this point,
and that much recovery was ahead for you.
You could say I was surprised, and delighted
that this amalgam of rusted steel and cracked rubber
could still turn its wheels to the tune of bionic rhythms.
Your voice was weary, but you sang still.
Flattened tires, seized brake, bar askew,
it mattered not, for your name is Independence.
You were there for the ride.

I placed my prize indoor to thaw.
I would return after work to cherish you more.

And then, going about my travail,
the epiphany struck - two met its twin -
The DREAM! The BIKE! Could it be?
Imprecise, but likeness such that I could not disregard it.
You did it somehow.
You had crossed between the realms.
I dare not try and explain it,
But it suggests importance.
It strengthens my purpose.
Yes, I can rebuild you.
I can make you stronger, faster.
You will sing in full voice again,
one with experience, but more beautiful than ever.
And I cannot help but share you with the world,
So you could bestow your glorious feeling of Independence upon us all.
You are so humble, so eager to give.
Your sole function is to liberate.
You will be given the perfect opportunity.
You shall become the poster child of a movement.
Your duty is scarcely begun, for now you rest in a coma,
awaiting this new life.

You may remember the loosening of cables,
the loss of your brakes, but your heart went still
at the snap of your chain.
In your sleep, you receive a full-body massage,
administered by spinning brushes of wire.
Then comes the spray of tinctures,
the uniform of stickers,
and the smooth green grease of lubricity.
When the links meet again, you shall awake,
and marvel at the bike you have become,
almost not recognizing your own slender, tubular body.
Your colors will radiate.
Your checks will designate you,
you queen of the fleet.
In this dark and dingy quandary,
your hope will be seen to shine,
even when rust lies beneath.

You are strong, Indy.
You have many years left.
But even as years get the better of you,
and you fade and crack once more,
There will be blissful relief.
For your brothers and sisters, your cousins,
children and grandchildren will roll these streets.
They will inundate the waste-filled rivers of asphalt
and turn the tide of ignorance, ineptitude, and ill will.
You stand for freedom, Indy,
more so than any drapeau.
And you roll for joy, Indy,
better than any god-damn four-wheeled toy.

-Eric Cornwell

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