dump bike v.4.5
Actually, I don't know if this is version four, or maybe five, six? But anyway, it's a new bike made from parts of old bikes. A Frankenstein's monster of a bicycle. Not too bad, hey?
One of the fun things about The Man is that he refuses to buy stuff. Food is okay, and paying for education and experiences is good, but stuff? Not so much. But that doesn't mean we don't have a lot of stuff. Ho no. We got things. I'm not sure if we have a lot of things, in the grand scheme of modern consumer culture, or even compared to my neighbor, since we live in a smallish home (644 square feet) and it always seems cluttered to me no matter how many times I donate to the thrift stores, but we make stuff (clothes, shelves, children), people give us things (a trampoline, play set), The Man forages stuff here and there (dumps, dumpsters, back alleys, etc.) and sometimes we even buy things (high end educational materials, because I'm a fool). I once found a small coffee mug in a bush alongside a sidewalk that I have developed an attachment to. There is always stuff, you hardly need to put any effort into getting it.
Still, buying stuff sucks. It's especially difficult for The Man. I think his general rule is that if he can find it at the dump, or has even ever seen it at the dump one time ever, then we shouldn't buy it. You can see how this could encompass a fairly extensive list of items. What doesn't hit the dump eventually?
One item we both agree to not buy, though, is a new bicycle. I've seen times when last year's bikes have littered the dump in snarled bunches in numbers to even rival the gulls. I can see this is a combination of factors, such as kids growing rapidly and no one particularly wanting to ride a hand me down bike. My first person observations of the neighbor kids suggest that a new bike every spring is a status symbol that lasts about two weeks until the bike is unequivocally destroyed in some sort of ramp jumping adventure. Then it's acceptable to ride a second hand bike, preferably one that belongs to a kid who is both smaller and poorly supervised.
I also suspect that while bikes overall have throughout the years become quite advanced in design and materials, the average children's bike bought from your department store is badly assembled by a team of inexperienced kids hired over spring break and outfitted with cut rate brakes and accessories. They're resource heavy crap generally.
We've had one store bought bicycle ever, the one boy child received from his grandparents as a birthday gift one year, and all of the others have been given to us or found at the dump. Of course, when a bicycle comes into our life as a found object, it isn't pretty nor intact. But typically the frames are good and maybe one wheel, and with a bit of Frankensteining (this is a legitimate verb in my house so you'll have to go with it) of a couple of specimens, you've got yourself something greater than the sum of its parts. It also helps to have somebody on hand who possesses a bit of technical knowledge and - this part is is really important - and has some time to mess around with it all. Lucky for us, The Man likes hiding in his garage and having a couple bikes to tinker with provides acceptable cover.
A functioning bike is all the childs have required thus far. They aren't immune to yearning for block status symbols, but they tend towards lording over their friends their yard and its various trimmings. The line was drawn, though, last year when Girl child received a hand me down bike from a friend that was in disrepair but, worse, pink. Girl child considers it a matter of pride to loath pink. She's got her tween dignity, you know? Can't be seen on a pink bike.
So The Man went a little further than just making workable. He also made pretty. I wish I had before pictures from the bikes the various parts were purloined from, including the pink monstrocity, but this is the result of some gathering, some tinkering, some painting, and $13 worth of new materials. Yes, we splurged on this one.
And then girl child rode out her shiny new prize (black and blue is very acceptable) and gathered up all the envy from the neighbor kids. Hopefully, she didn't draw too much attention from some of the bigger bike-manglers, otherwise this might be a short lived adventure in having a nice thing. A nice thing made from old crappy things. Incredibly satisfying to say that.