Bicycle Appreciation; It's Never Too Late To Say You're Grateful

Christy Coppola Shares Stories From The Road While On Her Give A Bike: 50 State Tour With Her Husband, Adam

What's that saying about how we take the important things in life for granted? I've always tried to let Adam know how much I appreciate it when he cooks a meal, gets me a cup of coffee downtown, or just simply makes the bed. On our 50 state bike tour, it's cleaning the cooking pot after dinner, blowing up my sleeping pad just a little more for that added comfort, or buying me a candy bar after a hard day of riding.

I do my best to let him know these things all mean a lot to me.

But in the meantime, I had forgotten to acknowledge something very important on this trip. My bike!

That's right, I had taken my bike for granted without even realizing it. But it was about to show me how it felt about that. We were at Superleggera, a new bicycle shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We had brought the bikes in for a much needed tune-up and while they were cleaning out the grit that gets all over the place after riding 1,700 miles, a piece of the bike snapped. The exact piece, I didn't even know what it was or what it did, but it is called the rear dérailleur hanger.

It had gotten knocked slightly out of place while riding and when they tried putting it back into place, it was too weak and snapped.

Now for a little bike maintenance lesson. As I learned, the rear dérailleur hanger is an aluminum piece that is actually meant to break. The reason behind this is that on older bikes without this piece, if that area of the bike got hit and bent or broke, the entire bike frame was deemed worthless. Having this part allows it to break before the frame, saving the frame and therefore just needing to replace this part.

Usually it's an easy fix. So when Chad, the owner of the shop, explained that this piece broke and they had already called every bike shop within a 200 mile radius to no avail and the supplier was closed for the weekend and it was President's Day weekend so they wouldn't re-open until Tuesday to be able to ship the piece, I calmly accepted the fact that we would be hanging in Tulsa for a few extra days.

But I looked at my bike, hanging on the rack at the store, out of commission. Until that moment, I hadn't realized how attached I was to my bike. My Cannondale Touring 1, made in the USA! We had been through a lot already, and that bike was the only way I'd be making it to all 50 states.

Adam may be my partner on this trip, but my bike has become a piece of me. We have traveled almost 2,000 miles as a team and it took me until it broke to give it the proper appreciation.

Four hours, a frantic Facebook post, and close to fifty phone calls later, we had tracked down the needed piece on someone's Cannondale tandem bike... And they were in Tulsa! How lucky were we that they were willing to disassemble their own bike and give me that piece so my bike could work again and we could be on our way. The bike shop has ordered a few extra of these little parts, one will go back to the person who gave me the one off their bike, and the others will be sent to Little Rock for Adam and I to pick up in a few days.

We decided that having a few extra of these on hand wouldn't hurt. I have apologized to my bike for taking it for granted and never giving it the props it deserves. I don't think I'm at the point yet of giving my bike a gender or a name, but I am grateful for how far it's come with me and will continue to appreciate every mile we ride together.

To find out more, check out their blog at http://giveabike.blogspot.com/ or their Facebook Page at https:/ /www.facebook.com/giveabike. Christy will be writing occasional stories for Patch as she and her husband make their way through the U.S.

Madison Patch is proud to be the Connecticut sponsor for Adam and Christy's trip. If you'd like to sponsor their trip, visit this page on their website.

Pem McNerney February 28, 2011 at 01:55 PM
Ewww. Rotten and mushy bananas. Good for nothin' on the road. They just make everything smell like rotten and mushy bananas ... hope you guys are having a good day there! Cold and really rainy here. Time to get out the oars ...
bud laumer March 07, 2011 at 03:11 PM
A job that puts you in contact with people crossing the country for a cause is easy to take for granted after a couple of years, but your kind post reminded me that we can all make a difference in some small way. Even if it is only to walk someone through a map while asking them a bunch of questions and making them promise to let you know how that route worked for them. Enjoy your trip and your new life togehter.
Madison Senior Center May 21, 2011 at 12:26 PM
Best Bike shop in CT is Devil Gear in New Haven owned and managed by Madison's own Matthew Feiner!
Pem McNerney May 21, 2011 at 03:13 PM
Great to know! Thanks!
Christy Coppola May 23, 2011 at 12:16 PM
Didn't realize the owner was from Madison. Very cool. We tried to get a presentation there when we were home for a visit but timing didn't work out. Maybe when we come back!


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