This was my first of many, many love stories collected in 2011. Thanks to Bryenne for sharing from her heart.
And should you doubt it’s even possible to run into your bike on the streets accidentally, here’s a story for you. Just today I was having coffee at CSI Spadina. Out front, who was parked but my beloved Garnet, the flip-flop hub bike I had to give away last month. He looked loved. Positive energy continues.
On a sunny Sunday afternoon in March, I found Bryenne Kay. She carries the confidence in her femininity that I aspired to have in my youth. Riding up the hill along Dundas Street West just before the Sorauren intersection, I stopped for a light. On the sidewalk, leaning casually against a guard rail, were Bryenne and Rosie. Rosie is a lovely Bianchi; her frame is this spectacular shade that glows somewhere mysteriously between pink and red.
“I tell my friends she’s red, but they all tell me she’s pink,” Bryenne explains.
I’ve had this exact argument with friends who like to place me in an ill-fitting pigeonhole. I hate it. “Oh, it’s definitely red,” I assure her.
Bryenne is a woman of her word: efficient, prompt, genuine. Her long, auburn hair and her wholesome smile brighten the entrance to Lit Espresso Bar. She tells me she’s twenty-five years old. I expected her to be eighteen. Age rests so comfortably with cyclists.
Rosie is the first road bike that Bryenne’s ever owned, but not the first bike she’s ever ridden. Up until a short time ago, Bryenne had only ever ridden cruisers.
Years ago, Bryenne was riding a ’63 Supercycle. “It was pretty crappy,” she tells me, laughing. “One day, I was riding up a hill and the brakes just fell off.” The Supercycle failed on the hill, and then embarrassed her at two repair shops. And yet she can’t say anything bad about it. I’m astonished at how much people in Toronto love their bikes.
And then, she “met this guy.” I’m such a sucker for romantic stories, which may explain why I write this book: these are all love stories in some way, and everyone is in love with their bike.
The “guy” had a custom-built Miele that she admired. Being a gentleman, he swapped bikes with her. She rode his Miele, he rode her pink cruiser with the flowers on the baskets, accepting the good-natured teasing he received from friends. As an engagement gift, he gave her his Miele. Bryenne attaches a great deal of soul to each bike, and felt guilty separating the boy from his bike. It was time she got her own road bike.
A man she works with—”a huge bike nerd”—helped Bryenne find the perfect bike.
As it turns out, Rosie is half an inch too tall for Bryenne. Bryenne keeps the seat set at the lowest position and still she finds herself cycling on her tiptoes.
“I loved her too much,” she explains. I can see this clearly in her eyes.
This past December, Bryenne went to Mexico for a visit. While she was away, someone stole Rosie. Bryenne returned to Canada devastated. And then, two months ago, one of her girlfriends spotted Rosie at the corner of College and Spadina. Walking across, Bryenne found Rosie just waiting.
“What are the odds?” I ask, shocked.
“It looked like she’d been used briefly and then thrown away,” Bryenne says, wistfully.
Bryenne demonstrates great strength of character, making informed choices about who she will love, even if they don’t quite fit. While she loved sitting higher on her cruiser in traffic, she never had the confidence to turn left. She has both speed and confidence on Rosie, her road bike. Rosie is Bryenne’s personal stress release.
“My Prozac,” she calls it. They have a strong connection. And for the first time ever, Bryenne rode all winter this year. She laughs.
“I know. You’d think the cruiser would be the better winter bike, but no, I rode Rosie.”
Bryenne then tells me, as if she is breaking news to me that might cause me anguish, that she and her fiance have since parted ways. One love story has ended, while the other—with Rosie—endures.
Bryenne reminisces at how she forms attachments, and how these attachments often revolve around cycling.
I wonder in passing whether the people behind these attachments might also be drawn to the lovely example of strength and beauty.