Last Thursday, while a bunch of local bicyclists gathered for the April edition of Car-Free Happy Hour, my eyes were drawn to a bright yellow bike I’d never seen before. It was parked near the bike rack outside Bluegrass Brewing Co. at Theater Square. The rich yellow paint and brilliant chrome fenders were dazzling in the early evening light. This pair of wheels was a standout even as a couple of dozen cyclists pulled up and parked their fine-looking rides alongside.
Naturally, I walked over to take a closer look. I asked if anyone at our table knew the owner. I assumed it was someone in our group who had wheeled it to our monthly meeting of cyclists, pedestrians and transit lovers. But no. Amazingly, the bike didn’t belong to one of our show-offs. Yet what a stunning bicycle!
It was a Vista Duchess – an obscure brand and model to be sure. I couldn’t recall ever seeing a Vista. This bike looked like it was straight from the carton, but clearly had all the signs of its 1960s vintage – large chrome headlight and taillight with generator, matching yellow handle grips, gum-walled tires, a kickstand, a Pletscher-style rear cargo rack. And everything about the bike was immaculate. I mean, not a scratch! I went back to our outdoor table, ordered an Altbier, and sat back in my chair to wait for the owner to appear. I simply had to know more.
In a few moments I got to meet Jeromy Edwards as he was leaving BBC. Jeromy was gracious enough to speak with me about the bike. Clearly it’s his pride and joy. He found the Duchess at a flea market, where he paid just $75.
“From what I understand this bike is from 1967,” he said. We looked it over carefully. Everything is like new – right down to the brake and gear cables. This fully-equipped commuter, with its buttery, brilliant yellow and chrome combination, is like no other bike I’ve ever seen. “I know, I know,” said Jeromy, after I cautioned him about leaving it with no lock. He said people look at it a lot, but they don’t touch it. “If anyone rolls off on this bike, I’m going to know it.”
Before he found the Duchess, Jeromy owned “a crappy-ass Schwinn.” He promptly reconsidered that comment. “Honestly, I gave it away and it was a pretty good bike – someone’s probably still riding it now.”
Jeremy lives in Old Louisville and takes rides of up to 10 miles to his favorite bars, to his job at Asiatique restaurant, to Waterfront Wednesdays and lots of other locations within 15 or 20 minutes. “I use my car just for longer trips,” he said.
“On the bike you’re more in your environment. You get to see what’s all around you. And you can burn off the beers from the night before,” he said. “It just feels great. This is a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful bike; it’s all I need,” Jeromy said.
Grace. Peace. Bicycle grease.
PS: Remember, every lane is a bike lane.
Share the road.
………( )/ ( )
Enjoy the ride home.
© Copyright, Kirk M. Kandle, MMXI
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