Louisville Bicycle Club
July-August 2008 Newsletter

LBC and My Raleigh Bike: A Gift of Friendship

by Melissa Hall


All of my bikes are special to me, each holding memories of friendship, laughter, pain, sweat, frustration, and triumph. My first bike, a touring bike, was treasured because it was a Christmas present from my husband who was worried that I would ruin my knees running so much. Little did he know what he had started. My Trek was a gift from my husband for an anniversary because I was then into the triathlons and the touring bike was too slow.

Each bike holds the memory of triathlons with him patiently waiting for me at the end, giving me the courage to go to places I could not have gone alone. Sometimes the long walk to the start was a feat of courage for him as he hobbled through the pain, but he was always there. Perhaps that set an example for me, though I tend to be on the wimpy side. Fear has caged me so often in my life, so I suppose one could say that he gave me the gift of freedom, of knowing it was okay to try even when trying meant the risk of failure. The same held true with my second Trek and then my Cannondale.

My new Raleigh bike was also a gift, this time of friendship and not from my husband. This bike is a gift from friends made in the LBC and stands as a reminder to me that there are special people in this world. The people in the club are what make the club the special club it is, and so very many of you are dear to me. As a supervisor of child abuse and neglect investigations, I sometimes forget the good in dealing with the bad: not the prescription for happiness or good mental health. I also forget to say thank you often enough and to let you know that I treasure you and your friendship, so thank you to you all. While I am not always wise enough figure out a person’s significance, my personal philosophy is that people are in our lives for a purpose, to teach us something about our world and ourselves.

My bike was found by a club member in a neighbor’s yard. The man was planning on putting it in the trash. Luckily for me, not so luckily for him the bike didn’t fit his six foot frame, but fit my 5’2” frame rather nicely (no pun intended). So the frame was a gift. But the bike sat in my basement neglected. I kept telling myself I would get to it, and a year passed.

What did I mean by “get to it?” I really wanted to build this bike up myself. I felt guilty for not having the skills or being able to acquire the skills to do this when it seems to come so easily to others. Unfortunately, in the world I was raised in, women did not use tools with parental approval. Maybe as a result of this or maybe as a result of mechanical inaptitude, it appeared I was never going to “get to it.” Yes, I read Sheldon’s site, but it was like reading a foreign language without the background knowledge to have it make sense. Those of you to whom mechanics come easily will not understand, but the task seemed daunting and unmanageable. Being the person I am, I was reluctant to ask for help.

Then another friend offered to help me with my bike. Others jumped in, one grinding and donating some pedals. Another helped show me how to put the bottom bracket back together. One went out of his way to make sure the chain line was straight. One even donated a hub and wheels. All of them worked together to create this masterpiece that would be mine.

Could I now rebuild my bike all by myself? I doubt it, though I have a deeper understanding of how things are put together and with what tools. But maybe that wasn’t why I received this gift. Maybe the building was building something more than a bicycle. Those of you who know me also know that I believe in the power of touch. People should be hugged, and hugged often. Every time I ride this bike, it hugs me with the warmth and caring of those who created it. Every time I ride this bike, I know that the world is not such a lonely, uncaring place. Why am I not mentioning names? I am not mentioning names because one person asked that I not. I know that this is part of their religious philosophy: helping others to show God’s love. And so I pass on the story, but I intend to do more than that to pass on the gift that was given to me.

This Christmas some child in foster care will receive a gift, hopefully the gift that my husband started in me and others helped to grow: the gift of a new bicycle and the freedom that it means. Thanks to all who make this club a great organization. I am honored to call you friends.


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