A Letter From Your Bike on the Roof Rack

rackHey. So you got a fancy new car-top bicycle carrier. Cool, it’s gonna be great to not have to take off my front wheel and cram me into the back of your vehicle every time you want to go for a ride somewhere a little ways away from your home.

We need to talk, though. I’ll be honest: I’m a little worried about you forgetting about me up on top of the car and absentmindedly ramming me into your garage, a ramada at a parking lot, or one of those “Caution: Low Clearance” signs. Let me share some facts with you.

The top three reasons for the end of a bike-human relationship are:

  1. Human “just not that interested” in bike anymore
  2. Younger, flashier, hotter bike comes along and gets human’s attention
  3. Human forgets bike is on top of car, accidentally ends bike’s life with one bad decision.

I’m not saying you’re absent-minded. I don’t mean that. It’s just that it happens to a lot of smart people—people who have advanced degrees, people who win big cases in court, people who perform life-saving operations, people who negotiate million-dollar deals every day and don’t break a sweat. These people have had one moment of forgetfulness and pulled into their garage, a parking ramp, somewhere, and heard the sound of metal ripping out of the roof of their vehicle or a bicycle frame crumpling. And then their face goes:

just had a great bike ride, everything’s fine -> confusion at noise from above -> OH SHIT

Then: face twists into a mask of sadness, anger, and disappointment as they instantly calculate how much money they just lost.

I am not being paranoid. THIS IS IMPORTANT. You know how many degrees you are away from someone who has accidentally driven a roof-top bike into a garage somewhere? Two. Next time you’re in the parking lot at your favorite trailhead and you see a guy putting a mountain bike on top of his vehicle, ask him if he’s ever forgotten he had a bike up there. If he says no, he either

  1. knows someone who has, or
  2. is full of shit and has actually done it himself

You and I, we have had some good times together, haven’t we? Thousands of miles, good climbs, speedy descents, lots of Saturdays, lots of stress relief, lots of good memories. I would venture to say we’re even friends, wouldn’t you? Yes, I know you have other friends, and the significant other, and of course they are a little higher on the priority list. Totally understandable. But I’m Your Bike. I’m at least above the dog, right? Before you answer that, let me remind you that you don’t have to follow me around with a plastic bag at 6 a.m. and pick up my poop. My point is, you would not strap the dog to the roof of the car and ram him into a wall.

I was designed to do a lot of things, pal. Corner like I’m on rails. Shift effortlessly. Climb as if I am weightless. I was not designed to smash into a concrete parking garage and take it the blow. Those big-brain engineers and designers, dreaming up next year’s new bike? They aren’t sitting in the wind tunnel collecting data all day and then going, “Hey Frank, whaddya think’s gonna happen when some dipshit attaches this $3500 bike to the top of his car and then drives through a Starbucks with a low awning? We should plan for that.”

Look, I’m not trying to sound like your mom. I know she tells you to be careful. That’s because she cares about you. I do too, but moreso, I care about ME. So be careful. Don’t be an asshole.

Thanks,

Your Bike


Brendan Leonard is Semi-Rad.


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{ 4 comments…read them below or write one }

  • Andy

    My favorite is when somebody realizes that they’re in a place they shouldn’t be with a bike on the roof and then has to stop and figure out what to do while everybody behind them loses it. That’s obviously never happened to me though.

  • Shawn

    Yeah. This is probably what my bike WOULD have said. RIP.

    Actually, I was lucky enough to only have to replace the handlebars. It’s never quite been the same, though. Stupid parking garage…

    Okay… stupid me.

  • Dean

    I know someone who has, so consequently, I have avoided this. So far…

    The thing is, I just had to get rid of my Impreza after nine years. It was awesome, and it’s built on the same platform as the new (to me) Forester I now drive. Which is taller, and is quieter with the roof rack full, but drives almost the same…

    Time to be extra vigilant.

    I have heard of people who make cars that say “BIKE ON ROOF” and place it so it’s visible on the downturned sunvisor, Not a bad idea. I bet my bikes would approve.

  • Murph

    I just know that I’d wreck a bike someday if I put them on the roof all the time, so I don’t. For the last 20 years, I’ve owned cars that I can put the bikes in standing up. It’s great for security and it’s great for avoiding doing a bonehead move. Right now, I’ve got a Honda Element.

    It’s not a matter of “if”, it’s a matter of “when”.

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