Guilt - a short story
I tried not to look in that corner of the garage -- I knew it was there, and knew it was waiting. Forgotten for most of the past year. Collecting dust amid the piles of shop rags and lumber and whatever else inhabited the garage. Amid things that couldn't move the way she could move. Things that couldn't climb a hill unless a better machine carried them up. Things that didn't have her elegance, her beauty; beauty that even a thick coat of dust couldn't hide. A jewel among common machines.
Yes, I was guilty. Guilty of making a lot of excuses not to ride; excuses that I knew and she knew were weak, inadequate.
The big ride is coming up, the one I'd done the previous two years. The one everybody asks me about. This year my answer was a little guarded; "Sure, I'm planning to ride..." I'd say, but in the back of my mind I'd see her in that corner of the garage. I'd wonder what was left of the past rides, the miles, the hills? Could I even get clipped in without busting my butt? Why have I waited so long?
When I picked her up she seemed a little lighter then I remembered; maybe a trick of the mind, or maybe it takes a re-discovery to appreciate something that was always there. There, waiting patiently.
I grabbed the floor pump and started on the tires; they weren't flat so at least she was spared that indignity, but this was a part of the pre-ride routine that couldn't be overlooked. After giving her a final once-over, checking brakes and skewers and shifting and wiping off any leftover dust, I raised the garage door and looked out.
Looked out to where the reconciliation will begin ...
One after another, the cleats clipped in with a familiar snap -- something that a part of me desperately missed hearing these past months, although maybe I didn't know it at the time. I found the right gear and set out on an easy pace, just a quick spin around the neighborhood to see what things were working and what needed to be adjusted or fixed.
Nothing. Nothing felt wrong at all. She shifted as smoothly as ever, responded as crisply as she always had. It's almost as if she was saving her best performance for now, just to prove that she was ready (and always had been). Ready and waiting.
We turned a few laps around the neighborhood; tentative at first, and then with more confidence as trust is regained after months of neglect. With each lap we dip a little lower in the turns, sprint a little harder on the exits, settle into a groove we've not inhabited in months. She leaped forward as if she was waiting all this time for this very moment. Free at last! It was a short ride, but a reunion of sorts -- two good friends deciding there's no good reason to remain apart.
To be continued...