The Long Goodbye.

It's been relegated to the trainer for the last two years. Months of sweat crust coated it. The cables should have been replaced two seasons ago, but it still kinda shifted well. Well enough to get from a random hard gear to a random easy gear. Precision shifting isn't always a requirement on the trainer. The chain had exceeded its service life, yet had never left the garage. The brake calipers were sticking from years of neglect, although their utility in this particular application is limited. The bar tape had been on there long enough that rudimentary fossilized tools were found in the lower strata of funk that had been deposited there.
It was grungy.
The bike didn't deserve that kind of abuse.
Once it was my absolutest favoritiest thing in the world. I used to gaze at it with the sort of adoration I reserve for small puppies and babies that aren't actively crying and/or pooping. It was my first carbon frame, and the first time I had built a bike to my own specifications, rather than copying the spec sheet of a similar bike. Over time I upgraded it heavily, adding components usually reserved for people with far more talent and/or money that I possess.
I loved the bike so much that I bought an identical model to use for a training bike. I didn't want to ruin my good bike by riding it too much in the rain or on anything but perfect days. The twin was set up exactly the same, so that when you closed your eyes was hard it was hard to tell them apart. It was also hard to stay on the road when you did that, so I tried not to do that too much.
In reality, it was a mid-grade frame that was built more for durability than to be an ultra-light climbing machine. It was slightly on the small side, requiring adjustments that likely affected handling characteristics. I didn't care, such was my affection for the bike. It was my race bike, and I felt faster when I rode it. Reality be damned.
Looking back, most of the races I won were on that bike. It was my talisman, something that assured me that I didn't suck when all evidence pointed to the contrary. It was unique enough in a sea of Treks and Specializeds and Cervelos that it had a certain exclusivity to it- like I was part of the Belgian heritage the name suggested. It didn't matter that it was just another hunk of Taiwanese carbon fiber like the rest of them.
Reality be damned.
Eventually I found a bike that actually was more suited to me. Then another one. Then another one. The twin was sold off, and the golden child was relegated to training bike duties, then subjected to foul weather, and finally chained to a stationary trainer to serve as a repository for bodily fluid residue. Oh, how the mighty had fallen.
A week ago I put on some gloves (HAZMAT precaution) and pried it off the trainer. One by one, the fancy parts were removed, the worn stuff thrown away, until I was left with a blank canvas to work with. Gallons of industrial-strength cleaner were brought to bear on the layers of gunk, until the frame began to resemble the one I fell in love with the first time I saw it.
Little parts that you never think about until they seize up or break were removed, cleaned, and lubricated. In place of the high-zoot, ultra fancy components, new solid, workhorse parts were installed that better reflected the price point the bike once occupied. I could have installed used parts, but I felt like I owed the bike to do this right.
I'd install a part or two, step back, make a couple adjustments, and then walk away. The next day I'd bolt on something else. Maybe I'd string up a cable or tweak something. The frantic nature that characterizes my normal bike builds because I waited until the last minute to complete it isn't part of this one. A little here, a little there...
Last night I told my wife I wasn't rushing this one because I wasn't sure I wanted to get rid of it.
" So why sell it? You can just keep it as your trainer bike".
I hugged her, because that kind of response is what every cyclist dreams of. My spouse just blessed the multiple bikes she doesn't know I already own, and those that will follow them. That may not be what she meant, but that's my interpretation.
I thought a bit and sighed.
"No, it deserves better than that".
It deserves an owner that will look at it like I once did.
I'm not going to give it away. I'm going to sell it for what I consider a fair price, and hopefully there will be someone out there willing to treat it better than member of their family. Hopefully it will be pampered and lavished with new components on a regular basis. Hopefully it will be ridden and raced, taking its new owner to the podium and inspiring the sorts of delusions of talent I once held.
It deserves it.


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