Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Earth Cruiser

About two weeks ago, I came out to find my rear tire on my bike flat. From the "flatness" of it, I knew that the tube needed to be replaced, not just needing air. With all the holiday hustle and bustle, replacing the bike tube took a back seat. This morning, it was on my list of things to do. After going through all my wrenches and sockets, unable to find one that would fit the nut on the wheel, I decided to bring the whole bike over to Chris at Beach Bike Rentals. He had replaced the tube for me once before, about a year and a half ago. I have been told by many (men) to learn to change it myself - that it's not that difficult. I have also been advised that Beach Bike is a "rip-off" - that any one in town would do it much cheaper. If I don't even have a tool to remove the wheel, I certainly don't have a tool to remove the tire. Besides, I will give Chris my business whenever I can; here's why.

I ride my bike to work everyday. It's a very short ride, and it takes me through the parking lot of Chapel by the Sea Presbyterian Church, which is right next door to Town Hall. Chapel by the Sea conducts a program they call "God's Table" which feeds the homeless. Each weekday morning, they provide showers, medical aide, breakfast and a bag lunch to area needy. This program is controversial because it does not offer any rehabilitative services, and according to some, encourages vagrancy on the island. Many of the "needy" take the free trolley from town to the beach, have free meals and clothing, and then trespass on many beachfront properties.
Each morning I bicycle past the "food line" out on the porch of the church. Each morning, I place my bicycle inside the front door of the Town Hall, where a small bike rack exists. One afternoon, I was leaving Town Hall, and my bicycle wasn't there. I called Lee County Sheriff's office and a deputy came out and took my information. I had the serial number, the bill of sale and all the paperwork for this bike, and gave the information to Deputy Schwing. George Schwing was born and raised on the Beach and knows it extremely well. He went to Beach Bike Rentals and asked Chris if he'd seen a bike that fit the description of my beach cruiser. As a matter of fact he had. Chris would often fix up bikes that the homeless would pick up out of the trash and give them a few dollars for it. Well, Chris said, ole Mickey brought in a bike fitting the description of my bike, and he knew it was too nice of a bike to have come out of the trash, figured it must've been stolen, and refused to buy it.

George is a smart cop. He got up about half an hour earlier than his normal shift time, went into Matanzas Pass preserve (which is behind Chapel and Town Hall) and there in the mangrove swamp was ole Mickey, sleeping like a baby - with my bike. George called me, met me at Town Hall, handed me my bike, and hauled ole Mickey downtown.

I am grateful to Chris for helping save my bike, so I give him my business. This morning, I took my bike over, and said I needed a new tube in the rear tire, and asked - if I were to leave the bike, could he - and for how much - repair the (missing) kick stand, chain guard, grease the chain, and basically give it a fix up. He put the bike on his stand, and quickly identifed a bad rear wheel. We talked candidly and frankly, and the bottom line? It's not worth fixing. "It's had a hard life" Chris said. I asked him if he could use it - he said he might be able to use the front wheel... I wished him luck and came home without a bike.


Of course I immediately logged on and googled Jamis Earth Cruiser and found the nearest dealer. I was ready to drive down to Naples, but it's Sunday, the sun is shining, all the tourists that fled the great white north are on Fort Myers Beach and traffic is horrendous. I think I will think about this for awhile. My brother, Ken's bike is here, and I can ride that while I decide what to do to replace my beloved bike.

May she rest in peace.


Roderckdhu said...

Michelle - for some reason, I just love this entry. It is beautiful and elegant and insightful. Rod

Michelle said...

Thank you, Rod. Perhaps it is the love I have for my beach cruiser that is the underscore!
I shall miss her.