Bye Bye Beach Cruiser

Alex Keith



An Ode to My Bicycle



I'd been contemplating my latest big purchase for several months now. I've been riding an old, beat up orange beach cruiser around town since my senior year of highschool—a gift from my brother and sister for my graduation.


She's been mine for four years of college in downtown Charleston, another two at grad school, housed on my backporch in Savannah, GA, and another year back at home. She's lived in backyards of ex-boyfriends, beach house garages, and even for a shaky two weeks in a storage unit on Colemand Boulevard.


She used to fit snugly in the backseat of my old car, seats folded down, allowing me to tote her just about everywhere. She even made the trek to Greenville once to ride the Swamp Rabbit Trail where cyclists whizzed by us on legitimate roadbikes wearing skin-tight spandex. She also spent my sole semester at UNC Chapel Hill with me where she really made me look like a jackass. Turns out there are hills in Chapel Hill, and my beach cruiser, pretty as she may be, just couldn't hack it. 


But I've hung onto her through it all, even when I got a new car that she doesn't fit into this year, relegating her to the streets of Charleston alone. No more will she roam the great hills of North Carolina or the beaches of Isle of Palms or the winding trails upstate. She is my downtown baby, perfect for trips to the Teet or the ATM or the bar. I always come back for her in the morning. 





When she was stolen out of my front yard my sophomore year of college, I cried for her loss, berating my roommate for coming home drunk and leaving the gate unlocked for several weeks after the fact. (My Sector 9 long board was also stolen, but honestly I'd like to thank the thief for that one.) I went bikeless for weeks, forced to walk to my classes at CofC. I'd show up sweating, pissed off, and yet I couldn't bring myself to replace her.


And would you believe it—I found her.


A few weeks after the theft, I was driving out to Folly one weekend with friends and there she was, waiting for me in front of Money Man Pawn as if I had left her there accidentally—a dog tied to a post while I ran inside to grab coffee. I whipped the car across Folly Road, terrifying my friends, and then demanded they ride atop her in my backseat after I haggled with the pawn shop employees to return her to her rightful owner.


Of course she was mine! I knew every scratch, every dent, even the scrape in the leather on the seat from when I ate shit on the corner of Calhoun and Coming Streets. Don't worry, no one saw—it's not a busy intersection or anything.


She was mine once more.


So you see, there's an attachment there, which is why the decision to replace her last week was a tough one. I had pumped her tires so many times, really before each and every ride as they constantly leaked, fixed her chain, even replaced a wheel and attempted to remove the rust stains from her handlebars. But when her back tire decided to separate entirely from the frame, I had to say enough. I needed a new bike.


Admittedly a bit excited, I headed to Affordabike on King Street, ready to lay down the big bucks and get myself an upgrade. My mom went with me, offering me moral support. "The beach cruiser is so old, Alex," she coaxed. "You need a new bike." Just as I was coming around to one of the models on the floor, a cherry-red Biria with leather seats and handlebars, she added, "but you're not getting one without a helmet."


So much for looking cool. 








My orange beach cruiser still sits in my back yard, it's shiny red successor parked pridefully next to it, sunlight glinting off its clean steel frame—not a rust stain in sight. The beach cruiser isn't at all ride-able. And yet I don't think I'll get rid of her. We have too much history. Perhaps she will become a yard ornament or merely a monument to times gone by. 



Cherry, cherry baby. 



Now everytime I walk outside, knock back the shiny kickstand on my glossy new set of wheels, and strap on my helmet, I'll give her a nod. She may be old news, but damn did we look good together.