Today I turned 35, my life as a vegan turned 16, and my bicycle turned two. And today was, undoubtedly, a fantastic birthday: it started with a spin and by 1 pm I was having mimosas at my favorite vegan restaurant. There was a coffee-and-stroll through the Botanic Gardens, even my first visit to the city zoo, complete with a giant “It’s My Birthday!” button and a free ride on the carousel. I was with my favorite people, enjoying Denver and the unseasonably warm February day.
But my 33rd birthday was a milestone: it was the day my bicycle and I began our life together. By then, I already knew I wanted her. I’d been to the bike shop visit her a silly number of times, just to make sure she was still there. If you’ve ever seen Wayne’s World, it wasn’t unlike Wayne’s obsession with the white Fender Stratocaster, which he eventually purchases after multiple pop-ins at the guitar store (the whole “oh yes, she will be mine” scene). I’d been saving up to put down a deposit, and was planning to do so on my birthday. In fact, my man-friend at the time had planned a whole day of surprises, and the only part of our day that I’d dictated was that we stop by the shop so I could finally hand over that money and secure myself my first roadbike.
I knew there was an outside chance the bike wouldn’t be there anymore - but after visiting it over the course of many months, including just a few days prior, what were the odds that she’d be gone now? Still, I had tried to prepare myself for the possibility that the wheels I’d fixated on for so long may have rolled home with some other lucky lady. And alas, as I walked up to the store’s women’s section, I could already see from afar that the bike wasn’t in her usual spot. My throat went dry and tight. I approached nearer, and confirmed she was gone. And none of these other models at this store would do… But I only let the heartache last a beat. It was my birthday goddammit, and I wasn’t going to allow this to ruin it. Oh well, I said to the man-friend; we should probably just go, and keep the birthday spirits high. As we turned to leave and he comforted me for such a bum deal on my birthday, an attendant appeared from the back room. He was wheeling a bike with him. It was her.
SURPRISE!, said the man-friend, who’d not only paid the deposit but in fact purchased the bike for me already. She was mine. For neither the first time nor the last, I was blown away by the generosity and thoughtfulness of this man. And my life with my roadbike - my Amira - began.
From that day forward, my bike has been my companion. She has transformed my life into one where riding a bicycle isn’t just something I like to do - it’s become a part of who I am. She’s brought me boundless joy, and she’s taught me what I'm capable of over thousands of miles of pedaling. That Amira has helped me push myself to climb higher, descend faster, turn sharper, trust more. She’s taken me across the great state of Colorado in ways neither feet nor car nor any other mode of movement could, and she’s helped me discover this fair city of Denver in that way only a bicycle can - at just the right speed, with a healthy dose of adrenaline and a little bit of an edge - like this is our city. She’s the reason that now, with confidence and with love, I call myself a cyclist. (And the man-friend - now just a friend-friend and still my favorite riding partner - helped with all of that, too.)
She still has so, so very much to teach me, and we have thousands more miles to cover together. Tomorrow, we ride. Happy birthday, bicycle.