Zilla rides again
I bought her 15 years ago shiny factory new, my tiny orange Giant. Her pricetag was more than I’d ever paid for any item before or since. Andy Hunter set her up for me with custom cranks and a squirrel squeeze-horn. She started out life as a sturdy mountain bike and I rode her through the trails, practiced lifts and drops. Over time she gradually acquired a rigid (purple) fork and slick tires, panniers and racks. I wired a plastic frilled lizard to her stem, and we morphed from forest explorers into blacktop adventurers.
Zilla was my companion through the gulf islands and the coast, from Port Hardy to Seattle, up and down. We spent five weeks riding around Nova Scotia, over high plateaus and into endless howling headwinds. She got scarred and stickered: Bicycle Revolution, Grownups are Dumb, Big Car Small Dick. We had attitude. We were a team.
In 2001 we met a minivan in Point Grey. Zilla went down as I bounced off the hood. I watched from the pavement as she got hooked on the bumper and slid under the tires and I screamed at the driver, “stop dragging my bike!” Zilla made it through with a pretzelled front wheel, and I spent two months in a leg brace. She got an overhaul and I got physiotherapy. The day we were finally reunited was the best ride of my life.
For a long time now she has been locked in a dark basement, with flat tires and a thick layer of dust. I have another city-mountain bike that suits me better. I will soon leave for New Mexico, and it felt unfair for her to be taking up precious space in the communal bike room. I knew that I would not ride her again, and she needed to be free.
Yesterday my brother Ki picked us up in his station wagon and we took our last ride together. I wheeled her into Our Community Bikes, which was crowded and buzzing with bike energy. I tapped a man on the shoulder and he said he’d be right with me, but I said it’s OK, I don’t need help—I just need to give up this beautiful bike for adoption. He looked at Zilla and said Ah! A guy was just here looking for a bike for his girlfriend, who is 5 feet tall—that would be the perfect bike! I smiled a little, tears fogging my glasses. Zilla will be on the road again soon, and so will I.