My two-wheeled obsession started a relatively young age. The day the training wheels came off, I began what would be a lifelong love of bicycles and cycling. I wasn’t the most coordinated or athletically-inclined child, but those limitations seemed to vanish the moment I threw a leg over my bike.
Bicycles also satisfied my urge to tinker. Armed with my well-worn copy of Anybody’s Bike Book and my father’s tools, I would spend countless hours learning the intricacies of my bicycle’s various components (although back then they were simply called parts).
Inside dad’s toolbox was the holy grail of tools–genuine Campagnolo cone wrenches. Thanks to Bicycling! magazine and Eugene Sloane’s Complete Book of Bicycling, the Campagnolo mystique was not lost on ten-year-old me. While I may have casually borrowed my father’s other tools, I treated those cone wrenches with a sort of reverence.
Eventually I began amassing my own set of bike tools; the commandeered Campagnolo spanners serving as the collection’s foundation. Bikes came and went, but no matter how much I pruned my stable, those two wrenches remained in my possession. When I hit a particularly rough patch, and N+1 turned to zero, those tools became talismans–reminders of what once was.
I don’t know if my father–or mother, for that matter–ever fully understood the impact that bicycles and cycling had on me. When mom died, I rode my bicycle as a way of coming to grips with her passing. In dad’s final years, many of our long-distance conversations included talk of the riding here in Colorado. After his death, I found that I missed those post-ride phone calls more than I ever could have imagined.
Today I plan on venturing into the garage, opening up my tool chest, and pulling out those Campagnolo cone wrenches. To others it may seem odd, but to me, it’s a fitting way to remember my dad on Father’s Day.