Sunday, June 15, 2008

a bicycle history

My biking history (only 2 wheels, no trikes or big wheels, as best as can be remembered) from scratch to the recent reawakening/mania:

1) Some little tiny kid bike on which I learned enough to get the training wheels taken off. Can't remember how old, perhaps 5 or something? Learned in my grandparent's driveway.

2) Seems like I had a Schwinn Stingray at some point too, with a banana seat.

3) Once I was big enough for an adult bike (I got real tall and skinny by around age 11), I used to enjoy riding my grandmother's cruiser around her neighborhood in Louisiana. Smooooooth.

4) Around early adolescence, my mom got my brother and I both these bikes that looked like motorcycles. Cool, right!?! They had fake gas tanks on them and little side panels, as well as big-assed wheels with knobby tires! This bike got ridden for at least a couple of years.

5) That bike started to seem real lame once everyone got bmx bikes, circa 1980. I was not in any position to get some brand spanking new PK Ripper or GT or what have you, but my next door neighbor was, so I ended up with his 20" chrome Supergoose frame and some old Redline forks and bars. This was my ride for a couple of years, I sort of liked the Millenium Falcon nature of this contraption, though I also suffered regularly from bike envy as most of my friends seemed to have some sort of generous bike financing going on in their households. There was much riding of this on crazy suburban Texas trails, construction sites (i.e. piles of dirt) and a local bmx track.

6) After shedding that bike sometime around age 14, I was bike free for a shockingly long time, like from age 14 to age 19. My next bike was a big assed, HEAVY steel cruiser, which I thought would look really cool. Man, did that thing suck to ride. I had it in Austin, which is a pretty hilly place and a one speed, circa 50 pound cruiser is just NOT the thing to have there. Probably put maybe 100 miles tops on this bike. I don't even remember what happened to it.

7) Once I had a decent job as a bartender in Austin, around age 22, I realized I could, say, spring for a $400 bike. My roommate had either a Specialized Rockhopper or maybe it was a Stumpjumper, so I decided to get myself a Rockhopper. I remember very specifically having a knobby tire induced buyer's remorse as I rode away. Why is this expensive bike so similar to the 50 lb. cruiser I forsook a couple years before!? Knobby tires was the main thing. It took me a while to go back and ask for some city tires to put on that thing. That was a big step in the right direction.

I rode this bike somewhat infrequently for the next 9 years. Really didn't have to put another dollar into it, so overall I can't really complain about my Rockhopper. In the end, this bike was stolen along with my tools and a few other sundry items in my second of three Chicago garage break-ins.

8) With what ended up being a sort of paltry insurance reimbursement from the burglary, I ended up getting a new Rockhopper. It was nice, being 8 years later and all, but I actually bet the old one was nicer, made in the USA and whatnot. Anyway, I ALMOST got one of these, I think it was a Sirrus or something, a kind of hybrid/city bike deal, but I thought (wrongly) that these bikes couldn't hold up and would get all trashed with the skinny tires and such. I rode this Rockhopper for about 7 years, maybe 2 to 3 days a week in the decent riding season in Chicago.

9) Then last year, my father-in-law was kind enough to offer me his Trek 750 mountain bike. This was a somewhat older Trek, lugged steel frame, perhaps late 80s? Nice bike, bigger frame (I always had seemed to ride a too-small frame ever since my bmx days). So I began riding this over the last year. I actually changed out some parts and set up my Rockhopper for my wife, which (speaking of too-small frames) fit her just fine. I set this bike up with a nice rack and got some pannier bags so I didn't have to keep killing myself with an overloaded backpack. It was possibly my lightest bike at 34.5 lbs. (Ouch!)

That's my bike history up until a couple of months ago.

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