Monday, June 11, 2012

Say Yes to the Bike

On one of our very first dates, I explained to JC, that I was not a "ring hungry girl." As the night in November of 2009 wore on and more beers were poured, we carved out the idea of of engagement bikes. The reality of this was sometime off in the distance. JC and I faced some interesting trials early in our relationship including a weekend road trip that stranded us in West Virginia, job changes for both of us, and the loss of some meaningful friendships. When we occasionally discussed marriage, it was something on a to-do list, an idea that was always on the table but timing is everything. However, anytime we talked about the long term, we did not talk about rings, dresses, flowers, or ceremonies, we discussed engagement bikes.

As many people around me know, 2011 was not a stellar year. An odd cosmic disruption occurred where I had to rely on JC to be my stronger partner. An abrupt career shift meant the juggling of finances, illness, and life. Although I transitioned through jobs likes glasses of water, JC was my supportive cheerleader for the "next big thing." Countless interviews later, I secured a "real job." The New Year felt as fresh and clean as a Zest commercial. We talked more about a commitment and it was fitting that his proposal was on a bike in the park near our home. There was no bended knee moment and no ring box. I could not have been happier. I said yes anyway and without hesitation. I am not the traditional fairytale type of girl nor did I want to finance a ring for 120 months. After returning home from the park to make a round of calls to friends and family, we began the work on planning our engagement bikes while discovering we both had family jewelry I could wear. I slipped one ring on and we spent the remaining evening hours discussing all the details of our engagement bikes.

Our engagement bike idea was simple: Two one-of-a-kind, very personalized bikes handmade to our specifications with intimate details for each of us. We love many of the same things about bikes so it was a rather easy design process. We like steel and traditional race geometry. A key element was to capture the love of our animals. With our wedding, comes the merging of two households; one large spastic golden retriever, and one obese but loving cat. The cat and I are a package deal. If you are going to be with me, you will have to love my twenty-two pound cat. If we were designing engagement bikes, a likeness of Victor had to be included (his bike will have a likeness of Buddy). More important, it is customary to have your name painted on the top tube. This is the first thing I've designed with my new name. It made us both rather emotional.
Frame with new name on the top tube
Then sometime this Spring, behind closed doors, in Don Walker's shop in  Buckner, Kentucky, my bike was born from a dusty box of tubes. I was fully aware it was in production but unaware of the look or feel of the final product. Cycling has become something special for me. I appreciate the craft and careful love that goes into each handmade frame. I have two other handmade bikes. They are each very special to me.  The hardest part of any handmade bike is the waiting. I waited, somewhat patiently but excitedly. I refused to look at any pictures online. I refused any texts. I wanted to see it when it was complete. I trusted JC would make all the right decisions. He did. Months of waiting have paid off. My bike is here.

New bike complete!
To many, it is just another bike out on the road with one of those crazy riders that believes they have all the rights as every car on the road. To me, it is much more. To me, it is something my fiance helped craft by hand. It represents something we love together. It is sized just right. A few light adjustments and it will be the perfect bike. While some women would squeal over a new diamond ring, I found myself doing a happy dance (with witnesses) and chills running down my spine. The craftsmanship is amazing but all the small details make it much more special than ANY bike on the road or ANY other bike in anyone's home. I will never ride the bike and not think of JC. I will never ride the bike and be without Victor or his "likeness."

The Victor "likeness"-It is dead-on
I had friends and colleagues who raised an eyebrow when I said we were getting engagement bikes. I got that "huh?!" face. I know it sounds rather odd and non-traditional. Everything that JC and I have ever done is rather odd and non-traditional. It works for us. I cannot wear the bike on my hand but it makes our story more special each time I tell someone. That's what important to us.
Me with my engagement bike! I said yes!

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