News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists
SUNDAY, APRIL 22, 2007


Everybody needs an old, beat-up truck

Friends from Decaturís unofficial bicycle club listened over lunch last week as I told them about my new motorized bike rack.

Road bikes, with their drop handlebars and skinny tires, are great for speed and distance on smooth asphalt, but their fragile wheels arenít made for rough roads.

Some of the best riding in the area starts at the end of my driveway, but the driveway is about two-tenths of a mile long and made of gravel.

Riding requires mounting the hitch rack on the SUV, putting the bicycle on the rack and driving to the end of the driveway. After the ride, I do the chore in reverse. Sometimes, it seems like more effort than itís worth.

So I bought a $500 truck.

Now, I just toss the bike in the back of the pickup and drive to the end of the driveway.

It works great for trash, too. Daughter Evie helps me take the garbage cans to the end of the driveway every Thursday evening so she can ride in the back.

The long wheel base works great for a canoe or kayak trip to the refuge or Flint Creek. I no longer have to lift a heavy boat onto the top of the SUV.

Iíve even started driving it to work some days.

Everybody should have an old beat-up truck. If it blows up, you can sell it for scrap metal and youíre out less than the cost of one monthly payment on a new truck.

New dents and scratches add character rather than leaving you with a sick feeling.

The Chevy S-10 draws looks and laughs when I fire it up. The muffler has seen quieter days, but the oil pressure is good and the tires and shocks are new.

Our 14-year-olds have different impressions of the motorized bicycle rack.

Addi is ashamed to ride to school in it and complains that it doesnít have a CD player. Caleb keeps begging to drive it through the hay field.

I like everything about it except the bench seat doesnít recline so itís not a comfortable spot for my daily siesta.

Chris Paschenko, the guy who sold it to me, seemed a little sentimental when he handed over the keys. He said he thought it was worn out when he bought it several years ago, yet he put another 72,000 miles on it.

He told me of its quirks and what weight oil he used and how often he changed it. He made a copy of his service log.

I sensed that Chris hoped I would give his old Chevy the same care that he had shown.

I will.

And what of my friends with the Soggy Bottom Riders?

Well, they affirm that my priorities are in the right place because my bicycle cost more than my truck.

Scott Morris Scott Morris
DAILY City Editor

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