Friday, July 17, 2009

The bird has landed.... a sweet homecoming

Lately I've been thinking during my morning rides to work that there is much to share about life though the eyes of a velophile, and that such thoughts would be appropriately shared through this blog.

But first, given the nature of my last post, I feel I owe blog readers an update (admittedly a much-belated one) on the status of my Indy Fab, my beloved stolen bicycle.

All through the remaining winter of '08 and the following dreary spring, I mourned the loss of that bike. I searched halfheartedly for a replacement, but never really found something that I liked enough to commit to (or could afford, truth be told). I borrowed a Bianchi from friends Josh and Jen for commuting, but it was not quite the right fit, so I didn't do much in the way of longer rides(and academics were extremely demanding through my last year).

 In August, I took a break from bikes altogether for a month-long community development workshop in rural India. We would be working in a remote corner of the Himalayas, without internet service or digital communication of any kind. This trip turned out to be a powerful experience deserving of a blog all its own.  One aspect of that power was that it forced me to unplug and let go a little bit, which was a superbly healthy lesson for me. I didn't think of the bike the whole time I was gone. In fact, I had a moment of clarity while in India, and decided it was time to give up the search, let go, and move on.

The Johar Valley, India- where I let go.

When I returned, I couldn't resist checking craigslist one final time. There, posted for sale 2 weeks earlier in Tucson, Arizona, was my bike. Indisputably, undeniably, my bike. The ad included pictures, a full description of the components, and even all of the geometry specs. Convinced that some kind of Himalayan magic had come home with me, I called Sgt Schultz at the UW police department, the detective assigned to my case, to hatch a recovery plan.

He called me back right away. He informed me that he wouldn't be able to be of much direct help, since the bike had turned up so far out of his jurisdiction, but promised to call the U of Arizona police department and ask them to assist me in recovering it. It was a couple of days before I was able to connect with someone in the department there; in the meantime, I emailed the seller and told him that I was really interested in the bike, had been shopping for one just like it in fact! And, could he hold it for me though the weekend until I could get over to have a look at it? I didn't tell him that it was my stolen ride- I wanted to be forthright, but I also didn't want to risk spooking the seller, especially if the seller turned out to be the thief or was aware that the bike was stolen.

After connecting with the U of Arizona police department and going through all the necessary steps to confirm that the bike was indeed mine, the UAPD agreed to go recover the bike for me. They urged me to make an appointment with the seller, to which they would try to go in my place. For the next day I held my breath that the seller wouldn't sell the bike before the police department got there. I emailed the seller, asking them to hold the bike, but also tying not to act completely neurotic to the point of scaring them off!

Later that afternoon, the U of Arizona detective called me- with great news that he had, indeed, recovered my bike, and it would be on its way home. A week later, after some more paperwork and a big favor from a gracious cousin in Tucson, the Indy Fab arrived via ups at my office. It came home sans wheels, which I was expecting, but with new silver bar tape, a silver Thomson seatpost (both black before), different pedals, and new brake pads. The silver looked great, so I took a cue from the anonymous makeover artist and put a pair of silver ksyrium wheels on, as well as some white-walled Michelin Pro-3 race tires.

In its absence I assumed that I had started to romanticize its ride quality, the way one looks back fondly at old relationships and friendships. Yet, on my reunion spin with it, it rode even better than I remembered. It was so fast and nimble- so stiff handling- yet also very comfortable and forgiving. And- this sounds crazy- the bike was happy. Perhaps it was my abundance of happiness shooting around through the steel frame and rebounding back into my legs- but I swear the bike was buzzing as much as I was. I'll be damned if bikes don't have souls. And, I would put money on the fact that human souls bond with particularly well-matched bike souls. I can testify that my soul is definitely more at peace with the world now that I've gotten my Indy Fab back. And she has a new name- India.

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