A Self-Serving Note from Fatty: Today and tomorrow are the last days you can vote for the Bloggies award (I’m in the Best Kept Secret Category). If you haven’t, please do. And if you have, make sure that you click the link in the confirmation email you got, or your vote won’t count.
I make a point of not getting particularly attached to my bikes. I don’t name them. I don’t obsessively clean them. I don’t anthropomorphize them. I ride them until I think it’s time to replace them, and then I sell them.
The ride is what matters. The bike is just a tool.
But yesterday a couple of coincidental things happened that made me get all wistful and nostalgic.
- Brad posted pictures. One of Brad’s entries for the photo contest (you’ve still got time to enter, by the way) shows Kenny and me on top of Beaver Mesa while riding the Kokopelli Trail — click the picture for a better version. Here, I’m propping myself up with my old Sugar, a terrific full-suspension mountain bike I originally bought for my wife and then took over as my own when I realized what a fine machine it was.
- I had a conversation with Rick. I was instant messaging with my friend Rick M when I found out the fate of that Sugar, which I had sold to someone about a year ago. “About two weeks after she bought it, she had the bike on the rack when she rolled her car,” Rick said. “It died instantly and without pain.”
My Sugar — which I rode in at least two Leadville 100s, in countless local races, on hundreds of miles of local singletrack and across the Kokopelli trail — died underneath a car?
That’s no way for a bike to go. Certainly not for a bike that lived the way it did.
It’s just not right.
So, today, I’m going to indulge myself and describe what I hope all my old bikes — the ones I’ve sold to make a down payment on the next bike — are doing in their new homes.
The Bridgestone MB5
The Bridgestone was my first mountain bike. I rode it once, got a concussion, and vowed never to ride mountain bikes again. Not long after that, this bike disappeared. I have a theory that it knew it was headed to a fate of rust and dust and dust, and ran away to find someone who would ride it. I hope that it did, but I also hope it still feels ashamed for bucking me off the first time I rode it and then abandoning me.
The Specialized Stumpjumper M2
This was my first “real” mountain bike. M2 stood for “metal matrix,” which meant that it was aluminum with some ceramic in there somewhere — the miracle metal of the moment. It was equipped with LX components, with — originally — a rigid fork and SoftRide stem (some of you will recall SoftRide stems, others will not). I replaced the stem with a RockShox Judy SL, which people ogled over. However, suspension forks were still a relatively new phenomenon (seriously!), and the geometry of the bike was not meant to accommodate it — the suspension adjustment knobs at the top of the stanchions would knock against the downtube.
It also came with the stupidest dropout ever conceived. Yes, the dropout was aluminum. Soft as butter. I replaced four of them within a couple months. A bunch of other people must not have had any better luck than I, because Specialized finally came out with a chromoly dropout.
I rode the Stumpjumper for two years, riding it daily. This is the bike I learned to love mountain biking on. I then sold it on MTBR.com to some guy in Alaska. It is my fondest hope that someone in Alaska is still riding it, though I personally doubt that the combination of aluminum and pottery as a frame material will have stood the test of time.
The Ibis Steel Mojo
I used to get paid insane amounts of money to write magazine articles and books about WordPerfect (seriously!), so thought it was time to buy myself an exotic bike: the Ibis Bow Ti. I sold the Stumpjumper and ordered the Bow Ti, which promptly failed to arrive for six months.
Luckily, the guys at Ibis are very cool. They understood that I was bikeless, so loaned me a steel Mojo — their hardtail mountain bike — until they could build my Bow Ti.
I totally fell in love with that bike. Anyone who rode it did, too — four people I know bought steel Mojos after trying mine out.
So even when the BowTi arrived, I kept the Mojo. In fact, I sent it back to Ibis for a custom “Tequila Sunrise” paint job — red at the bottom bracket, fading to a bright yellow on the top tube.
I loved this bike for a long, long time.
Eventually, I sold it when I got an Ibis Titanium Mojo. But I didn’t lose track of it, because I sold it to my sister Kellene. She rode it for a while, then handed it down to her daughter as a college bike and has suffered mightily from neglect. From what I know, that Ibis is still in the family. I keep thinking I should buy it back and restore it. That bike was a beauty.
The Ibis Bow Ti
This was the most expensive bike I have ever owned. Totally tricked out, I think I had about $6000 into it (seriously!). The parallel titanium downtubes acted as a leaf spring — the whole frame was the suspension. Anybody who knew anything about bikes wanted to check it out whenever they saw it, because it was so crazily exotic and high-tech.
The thing is, it wasn’t that great of a bike. The suspension tended to rebound you up and forward, making me even more endo-prone than I usually am. Plus, the bike was wide.
After riding this for about two years, I got tired of pretending that it was the most awesome bike ever (when you spent $6000 on a bike, that’s a hard admission to make). I sold it on MTBR.com to finance my next bike, the Ibis Titanium Mojo. I frankly can’t remember where it went after I sold it, though I keep hoping to see one of these on the trail someday, just so I can ask, “So, how do you like the ride of that thing?”
I haven’t seen one in years, though.
The Ibis Ti Mojo
Having realized that I loved the Ibis Mojo, but wanting a high-zoot material, I went for the Titanium Mojo as my next bike.
That was a dream bike. It climbed like no other bike I’ve ridden before or since. Good in the tight stuff. Not so great at descending, but that was probably more my problem than the bike’s.
It was the only bike I’ve ever just stood and looked at. It was that pretty. Titanium has a soft, mellow sheen when given a matte finish. I bought a watch (Citizen Titanium Ecodrive) and had my wife buy me a new Titanium wedding ring with the same finish, to go with my bike.
I sold this bike on MTBR.com, and used the proceeds to buy the full-suspension Sugar I talked about earlier and a hardtail Paragon.
What a fool I was!
Of all the bikes I’ve owned, this is the only one I truly regret selling. I don’t know where that bike is, but I hope it’s being well-loved, treated like the work of art it is, and that it’s forgiven me.
The Fisher Paragon
This light, stiff aluminum hardtail was an awesome and efficient machine. I bought it just before my finances took a turn for the drastically worse, and so ended my string of extravagant bike purchases. I put more miles on this mountain bike than any other.
And so I feel a little bad that I killed it on a mountain bike ride a couple years ago.
Still, if you’re a mountain bike and you’re aluminum, you know you’re not going to last forever. Wouldn’t you want to at least die doing what you do best, with dignity, out on a trail?
The Bianchi Something-or-Other
Like most dedicated MTB’rs, I decided at one point that I ought to try road biking, but didn’t want to spend a lot of money on it, just in case I hated it. So I bought the cheapest decent road bike I could find. It was a Bianchi, but I can’t even remember the model name. I’m getting old, I guess.
Well, it turned out that I do like road biking, so I replaced this bike with an Ibis Road Ti. I sold the Bianchi to a friend and neighbor who was interested in trying out road biking, too. From what I understand, he still rides that bike. It makes me happy to know it’s in good hands.
The Ibis Road Ti
I rode this bike for nine years. I’ve never loved any bike as much as I did this one.
And it repaid me by trying to commit a suicide/homicide. I don’t blame it, though. After suffering the indignity of having been outfitted with fenders and a wacky light setup, I can understand why it started hating me.
PPS: Today’s weight: 168.8. I guess I angered the Dieting Gods by making jokes about them yesterday. I shall repent by eating three grapefruit tonight.