RIP Beloved Beach Cruiser

Tricked out Basket
Tricked out Basket,

originally uploaded by neenyd03. Well, the terrible day has come, my beloved beach cruiser was stolen this evening, right outside of my house. I came home late from work, in the rain and forgot to take the bike inside right away. I was so busy with the baby and the baby sitter that I forgot about it. About an hour went by and when I went to get it, it was gone! UGH! Now really, who else but me wants to ride this crazy character bike? I suppose the parts are worth more than the entire bike - as I just added new rims, new white wall tires and tubes, a new seat and a seat pack filled with tools. Had I decorated the basket to match the season, it would be impossible not to know that this bike belongs to the Bicycle Chef. ARG! I suppose it could be worse, but the for me, the loss of a bicycle is intense. 

My life is so bicycle identified and bike-centric. I've been riding a bike since learned to ride a bike at age 5 or 6.  My earliest bicycle memories is of having learned to ride a bike and not wanting to get off of it! I would "borrow" the neighborhood boy, Johnny's, bicycle, without permission, just so I could ride it around and around my grandparents block in Southwest Philly. During my teenage years, having a bicycle meant freedom to escape the confines of my neighborhood.  I would bike from neighborhood to neighborhood, never feeling trapped in one particular place or having to stay with any one crowd of friends.  In the summers, I would ride a few miles to the Tinicum aka John Heinz Wildlife Refuge in Southwest Philly, out by the airport, and spend a serene morning by myself, watching the sun rise and the planes fly over-head.  On hot, boring summer nights, I would ride 8 to 10 miles, sans helmet, lights or other safety equipment from my neighborhood, out past derelict refineries, car part lots and scary open fields and wastelands into the magical world of Center City and down to South Street, where there was life.  I wanted to be a part of the 80's New Wave scene and hang out with the cool kids, alternative folks and find myself and my people.  Occasionally I'd have a special evening, meeting up with the South Street  Regulars and gaining some sort of recognition and acceptance.  The long scary ride home would be a blur, as I was high on my latest life experience.
Up until this past year, a bicycle for me was my only means of my personal transportation - I only just learned to drive and have had my driver's license for six months.  Bicycles have been more than  transportation, they've been my  ride to freedom, allowing me an easy escape, allowing me to reclaim my health through exercise, find my sanity through the repetitive motion of bicycle revolutions. My bikes have been workhorses and pack mules letting me haul gear, groceries and goods from home to work and back again.  My bike was as dear to me as my friends.  There have been countless bikes of mine stolen - from my early Stingray Schwinn with stick shift gears; three or four 1970 and early 1980's 10-Speeds; a beautiful Trek 800 Cross-breed City/Mountain Bike that was a graduation present  when I finished cooking school and now this heavy, clunky, character-making Schwinn Panther Cruiser. I feel like a dear friend has passed.  I hope to see you again someday, and if not, I hope my next ride is as fun and faithful as you were for these past seven years. RIP.


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