January 24, 2023 Comments Off on Bikestalgic
Some people get all nostalgic about their bikes, so nostalgic that when it comes time to sell the thing, when it’s still only five years old and has some vague notion of a resale value on eBay but before it’s so old that no one would buy it for anything except giving to their boyfriend as a starter bike, rather than sell Ol’ Faithful they leave it in the garage where it literally rots to death.
I’m not that way.
First, bikes are for riding, and if you’re not riding it then you need to sell it or give it away to someone who will. Second, I’ve yet to see anyone ride two bikes at once. If you have more than one bike you’re doing it wrong, and for the last six months I’ve been doing it wrong. Third, if your bike has a pet name you are really, really, really doing it wrong.
My dear old cyclocross bike that I bought in 2018 and hardly ever rode except for tens of thousands of miles finally wound up on the chopping block. It was a good racing bike but a lousy commuting bike and an even lousier touring bike, though I fashioned it for both purposes. And even though it did a passable job with touring and bikepacking setups, it couldn’t quite keep up with my old age, weak legs, declining endurance, and sarcopenia.
It has been on eBay for a while and will be there a while longer. The seat stays have both been repaired and the big, black carbon patches don’t look sexy or reassuring, though the frame is now stronger than when it was new, thanks to those patches. It’s a bit of a Frankenbike, with aero Zipp bars, outsized brake rotors to handle heavy loads, a single front chain ring paired with a rear cassette that looks like a 16″ Lodge skillet, and a very tough pair of FastForward aluminum rims.
Still, all these modifications were intentional and functional, helping turn a beefy racing frame into an all-rounder for commuting, touring, bikepacking, racing around the hill (slowly), and of course for grocery shopping.
Each little thing about the bike reminds of something good. The cracked and fixed seat stays were one of the best things to ever happen to me on a bike, leading to a series of serendipitous meetings that the wildest imagination couldn’t have dreamed up; I should know. The huge rear platter was a requirement for numerous unforgettable hike-a-bike adventures in the Sierras, outings that plopped me smack in the middle of some of the most beautiful and quiet places I’ve ever even imagined. And of course the various nicks and scars remind me of other days, rides, of camping out, getting rustled out of my tent by the Border Patrol, camping under highway culverts, enjoying the infinite and infinitely bright skies of Fort Davis, the freezing mornings in Arizona New Mexico, riding to Texas to see my dad before he died, bumping up against the closed Canadian border during covid, countless rides through downtown LA, tall passes in the high and low Sierras, snowstorms, mud, heavenly blue skies, condors, eagles, raging torrents, icy seeps, giant boulders, skyscraping sequoias, catastrophic wildfires, descents that wear your hands out from braking, 117-degree temperatures, pedaling at freezing daybreak layered up like a fat bear, waves and attaboys from cars along endless climbs, nice folks sharing a candy bar and a drink, but you know more than anything else, riding that bike was this: believing I could do a thing, and doing it.