I was on vacation a few years ago on Cape Cod and there was a Fuji Del Rey a block from the house I was staying at, leaning up against a garage with a free sign on it. It looked as if it had been sitting in the garage since Regan was in office. The tires were dry rotted and flat and there was a lot of surface rust on the cables and chrome parts. When I was in high school I was a pretty serious cyclist. I used to get up a few hours before school started and ride through the Amish country of Pennsylvania as the sun rose. After my Schwinn Varsity I had a Fuji that was my first serious road bike. I don’t remember the model, but it was pretty close to the one leaning against the garage. I felt as if I found a long lost old friend. I knocked on the door and there was an older gentleman sitting in a living room reading. I asked him about the bike and he replied that it was a good bike. Needs some work and hasn’t been ridden for a while but if it worked for me I was welcome to it. I thanked him and was on my way. When I got it home I pumped up the tires and put it in the shed. The next morning, I helped it out of its resting place and leaned it up against the house. The tires were firm. I got on it and rode it up and down the street. The chain would stiffen up when I stopped peddling like an old body that had been bed ridden for a while. I put some oil on the chain and decided to ride it to work. I had been commuting to work on a city bike that was a tank. It was heavy, and the gearing was a bit off. I always felt like I was in a gear higher then I should be. I rode the Fuji for two summers without touching anything. Finally, I decided I was taking my life into my hands riding on dry rotted tires and decided to replace the cables while I was at it. It took me some time to dive in to the project. One day I decided to rip off the handlebar tape. That was it, I was in. The process was slow. I would work sporadically starting around 9:45 after my son was in bed and the dishes were finished. I went through things one piece at a time. Taking things apart, cleaning them up and putting them back together or re-greasing the bearings. It had been a while since I had been in this deep with a bicycle. Everything made since and was a pretty strait forward process. Nothing was worn, it just needed refreshed. It was really nice working on something that was a quality build from the first place.
I recently completed the last step of the restoration. New handlebar tape. I had come full circle. A friend of mine made a comment that it was great to be able to keep it out of the landfill. This really struck a chord with me for some reason. What ends up in the landfill is trash. This bike was over 30 years old, but I’d be surprised if it would have ended up in the landfill. If it hadn’t been me, someone else probably would have fixed this bike up. It’s a well-made bike. It was made to last a while and it has. I fixed it up because it had a lot of life left in it.
I was thinking about the landfill because another friend asked me if I could fix an IKEA dresser for them. I was looking at IKEA’s website, curious if I would find it and couldn’t help thinking how closely aligned IKEA is with the landfill. Within the description on a very similar dresser is: Psst! Please attach it to the wall. That’s pretty obvious isn’t it? We don’t design our furniture to have any structure so if you could use the structure of your house that would help out a lot. And of course, you can’t blame IKEA for that right? I mean you can blame them for deforesting third world countries through illegal business practices but for making things that can’t survive a move? If people get 5 years out of a piece of IKEA furniture they’re thrilled. And then what? Put it where it was always intended to go, the landfill.