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Column: Say goodbye to an old friend

Sunday was a sad day in my house. There were no tears. It was nothing like that. But there I spent some time recalling good memories as I bid a final farewell to a friend who had been with me for most of this decade.

Sunday was the day I had to say good by to a bicycle that had carried me through seven years and more than 15,000 miles.

Don't look at me like that. It was emotional. It's not easy to give up something that's supported your rear end through so much, but earlier this year the bike's aluminum frame developed cracks. Like most of the cast of 60 Minutes, it was functional, but you couldn't look at it without knowing a newer, stronger replacement would soon be needed. So, after one final ride on which it treated me to one final flat tire, I loaded it onto the back of my car and brought it to the bike shop, where mechanics were ready to pull off the brakes, wheels, pedals and any other parts that were salvageable and transfer them to a shiny new frame.

By the time this column reaches readers, a bike that has taken me up the Willard Munger Trail to Duluth and up the unnecessarily steep hills of central Wisconsin will be more functional as an art piece than as a means of transportation.

It's the end of a long road for me and my Bianchi. I've had it seven years almost to the day. I've ridden it in at least six states and in two countries, if you're willing to count Canada. Like Stedman for Oprah, it's was there when I was heavier than I wanted to be, when I lost weight and got faster and now when I've found less time for riding and my weight has gone back up.

As an example of how grief has affected my thinking, I'm pretty sure I just used an analogy in which I compared myself to Oprah. I don't expect to ever do that again, girlfriend.

It feels more than a little unseemly to care so much about something that at its core is just a cold piece of metal. Just about anybody who doesn't work for Apple will tell you inanimate objects are not meant to be the targets of emotional attachments. And besides, I'm transferring enough components to the new bike that it's nearly the same thing. It's just that the frame will be shiny and silver now instead of green and black.

But it's not really the same. It's like a new Darrin on Bewitched, a new Becky on Roseanne or Coy and Vance on the Dukes of Hazzard, only in a form that invites you to sit on it for hours at a time.

I don't doubt I'll grow to love this new bike. It was custom-built for me, and I'm sure it will carry me over many happy miles. I've seen it and I've touched it and it's shiny and beautiful and I can't wait to bring it home. But it's just not the same.

For a while, at least, I'm sure I'll miss sitting on Bo and Luke.

You know, so to speak.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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