One cyclist's affair with a Jetta named EJ.

Settling down with the bike of a lifetime doesn’t come without its flings.

By Ethan Gilsdorf

Illustration by Felix Sockwell

I would never admit this to EJ, but I was almost relieved when my friend came back to town and reclaimed her. My summer fling was over.

There was, though, the problem of how to approach Windy. Could she ever forgive me? I dusted off her saddle. I inflated her tires. I brought her into the shop for a tune-up, a mani-pedi, and a chain massage. I apologized. “Jetta never meant anything to me,” I promised her. She took me back. She let me ride her again.

Months later, Windy and I are happily reunited. Yes, there have been some bumps and flat tires, but I’m content. My calves, once more firm and sculpted, speak to the harmony of our beautiful union. What I don’t spend on gas these days, I use to take Windy on romantic adventures: a bike–train jaunt to the beach, a wild ride in the woods, or, for nostalgia’s sake, frequent small-scale grocery runs.  To spice up our bike life, we’re trying out new toys like, ahem, a double-action minipump.

But on rainy days, or when it’s snowing outside and the grocery store seems far, far away, I still sometimes pine for Emerald Jetta. I remember the scent of her fabric interior, lust after her cargo space. And when it’s really cold, I dream of Manta. In the dream, we’re flying down I-95 at 80 miles an hour, destination unknown, blissfully oblivious to the world. Yes, I still compose the occasional ode to her—but now I know better than to write them down.

Ethan Gilsdorf is a writer and poet from Somerville, Massachusetts whose work can be found in Poetry, The New York Times, and National Geographic Traveler. Contact him at 

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