MY BIKE'S LINEAGE,
By Marshall Curry (Feb. 4, 2017)
It’s funny how different material objects take on parts of our families. Sometimes families manifest in certain movies or board games around the holidays, certain picnic spots or meals in the summer, or a portrait on the wall passed from generation to generation. I am happy to say one of those objects for my family is a bike!
This is the story of “Compadre,” my tough-as-nails ‘83 Univega Sportour. In a world where certain objects can unpredictably become part of our families, I hope the story of my material object, one proven to support liberation and sustainability, can help inspire your family to deliberately create a similar tradition.
In 1983/4 my mother and father moved back to Springfield to live cheaply while my father studied Biology at the UO. My mother purchased a used ‘83 Univega for him to use for commuting. That’s when Compadre joined our family. I just found out this year, Compadre had already been with a family before joining ours. I wasn’t sure what to think. Did they miss the support, the freedom? How did their partnership with Compadre materialize? Did it compare to how Compadre supported mine?
My Dad rode Compadre along D-street, to Pre’s trail, to UO (averaging an 8-mile roundtrip). It gave him cheap mobility while my parents began family planning. After graduating, Dad set Compadre in the garage, to wait for the next family member. For a few years, while they raised me Compadre sat in the garage, only coming out for the occasional ride along the bike path, or to a UO football game.
Then Compadre left my house for a while, but not my family. My cousin took him to new places and other parts of scenic Oregon. Compadre supported my cousin while he attended college at OSU in the late 90’s. Compadre traveled up and down the stately presidential avenues of Corvallis, to the Dixon rec center, and to the rugby field (an average 2-mile roundtrip).
After the second jaunt at a college campus, Compadre needed a break. Along the side of my Springfield home, Compadre sat sun-bathing (and enjoying the regular rain-bath, I mean- it’s Oregon) for a few years. When my brother and I entered high school, our family became more involved with the biking industry. My mother took a job working for a local bike manufacturer and trained for triathlons. My brother integrated bike touring into family discussions as he planned and completed a ride along the Lewis and Clark trail (3,000-mile one-way trip...on a different bike, but the mileage is worth noting). Upon his return, he interned with a local bike shop, building bikes.
Soon after, my brother’s tinkering hands sought a new target for a bike rebuild. It was then that Compadre’s companionship took a new form. Instead of a transporter, he became a teacher. With Compadre, my brother learned how to perform a drive-train make-over, and transitioned Compadre’s multiple gear cassette to a floppy. The brakes were replaced and the bars un-taped; the paniers, rotting from exposure and age, were removed; and one wheel was replaced.
I purchased Compadre ($150 and the new tire) to take it with me to Salem for commuting to work. It was my first time attempt at regularly commuting by bike. Compadre carried me from the intersection of Cordon and Mclay to Marion-Polk Food Share (18-mile roundtrip). I later moved in Salem, and began commuting an easy and much appreciated 12-mile roundtrip. Salem streets were tough for biking, but are similar to Eugene’s. Cars know you are coming, but still run the occasional red-light. I look back fondly at the experience I had riding in Salem. Compadre and I made it through some rough days and tube-changes. During this time, I learned that a pair of Gore-Tex pants, water proof booties, a strong rechargeable light, gloves (for longer rides), and fenders make biking in Oregon doable in just about any condition (except for ice...so I guess almost any condition).
Today, Compadre and I rode from Riverbend hospital to Gateway to UO. Usually I follow the Riverbank trail as my father did when he would ride to feed the fish in the Willamette River (10-mile ride). But some days I check out a new route in Eugene or Springfield. Compadre allows me the flexibility to go as I please. I feel less confined by roads, traffic, buses, and am encouraged to exercise, breath, and appreciate the trees, animals, and people around me.
My family enjoys spending time biking, as many other do. It’s one of the few sports we can enjoy for a long time to come. Having a history, like Compadre to biking is inspiring to me, and I hope it is to you too. Just today, my cousin found out that Compadre, his old bike, is still supporting our family. I wonder if he will encourage his son to continue the tradition…?