I have a penchant for naming my bikes. First, there was Mike the Bike, the one that started it all. Purchased early on in my college years at a garage sale, Mike was a late 1970s silver Panasonic road bike. We got it and a smaller sister bike, a tiny mixte, for $5. If you’re going to purchase a bike as an around-campus beater, $2.50 is a pretty good price. Minus nearly every cable breaking on Mike at some point or another, he was a great bike until I crashed it this past October. Totalling one’s bike while riding slowly around a corner on dry, smooth pavement on a sunny Friday afternoon is all kinds of embarrassing and sad, let me tell you. I still have Mike, he’s sitting in my room with parts hanging off and a parking ticket sticker on it.
As I don’t own a car, and the public transit system is only so convenient, I needed another bike. I headed down to our local bike co-op and bought the only bike I could afford: Ross the Diamond Cruiser. An early precursor to the mountain bike, it has two inch wide tires, a black frame, and shiny cruiser-style handlebars. Yeah, it’s definitely a unique bike. Ross now has a basket and is used for short, errand type trips, except I hardly ever take any, so mostly he sits and collects dust. When I realized I wasn’t riding much because my bike wasn’t appropriate to the kind of riding I enjoy most, it was time to shop for a new bike.
Still being a poor graduate student, and one with little time, I trolled craigslist for weeks until I found it: a 1981 Peugeot PH8 steel frame touring bike in electric blue. The beautiful color, the chrome fenders and rack, the integrated headlight/taillight with a bottle generator, downtube friction shifters, and the road bike geometry were perfect. So, I reserved a CityWheels car and drove to a local suburb to test drive my future ride. Got there too early, and went to a local park to kill time, where I saw a blue jay. Some kind of fate, clearly, because the bike was perfect for me and I bought it. I named it Jay – a French name for a French bike, a blue bird’s name for a blue bike, an elegant character’s name (Jay Gatsby) for an elegant bike. Jay is great because it’s a nice commuting bike what with having a rack and all, and it is a light and fast enough bike to do double duty as a road bike. He’s had a few upgrades: all new cables, new handlebar tape, new saddle, new city tires (fatter than road tires, but hella more durable), rack bag, bento box, all to make it a comfortable ride. So, here’s to many more miles with Jay, my steel horse. 🙂