The Inheritance

My fondest memories of me and my dad involve bicycles. He was an avid rider when he was a young man and he got his sons into touring as soon as we were able to ride without training wheels. I like to brag that I rode my first century (100 mile ride) in 1972 as an eleven year old. When I was a boy scout, my dad was the advisor for the bicycling merit badge and he organized the troop’s bike trips.

Although not highly competitive, my dad enjoyed the occasional amateur race — especially the time trial, “The race of truth”. He also had an eye for quality craftmanship and in 1970 he purchased the exceptional Schwinn Paramount complete with Campagnolo components for his weekend races. My dad cherished his top of the line, chrome painted racer and he kept it in pristine condition while I was growing up.

As he and his prostate got older, my dad’s interest in riding waned. After my parent’s divorce he gave the Paramount to my brother while I was given an 1880’s Rudge (high wheel bike) that my father had painstakingly restored to a rideable condition. We used to ride his antique bikes in small town parades wearing period costumes when I was a youth.

Years later my brother decided he had no need of a vintage racing bike while living in Los Angeles so he sent it to me. I cleaned it up, had it professionally overhauled and took it out for a few rides. Sadly, I found it uncomfortable to sit on for more than an hour so I let it collect dust in storage.

This year my wife and I moved to bike friendly Durango, Colorado where I found work teaching cycling classes to a fitness obsessed town. Recently, I saw a poster advertising a bicycle swapmeet fundraiser for a local organization. I decided it was time to find the silver beauty a new owner.

I knew from research the old Paramounts were highly collectible so I attached a $1000 pricetag onto a brake cable and watched it get placed in a long aisle reserved for road bikes in the large exhibition hall at the fairgrounds. [the charity gets 20%]

The next day I paid the modest entry fee and was immediately pleased to see several men huddled around the Schwinn. I watched as one guy kept going back to drool, fondle the brake levers and caress the crank. I was even more pleased to return on the final day to find the old gal had indeed been purchased.

Today I feel sad to see a significant family heirloom sold for rent money, but I am confident it has found a new home where it will be cherished once again. And if I ever see it flash by on the road, I will feel a rush of emotion thinking of my dad.

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