A classic pose from a bygone era - My Giant ride in Vermont 2006
A classic pose from a bygone era – My Giant ride in Vermont 2006

This weekend saw the turning of another page in my wheeled life. I finally gave up the other set of wheels that had been a passion for far too short a time in my life. My Giant mountain bike, my first GOOD mountain bike has moved on to a new home with my brother. He had looked for a bike to ride with his step-kids and didn’t want to steal back his own bike from our father. He asked about my bike, knowing it was a good one I had put some money into back in the day, and I had no hesitation in offering it up to him. It was and is a great ride, just needing a bit of maintenance after hanging in my shed (by the back tire!) for the last four plus years.

After a good visit on Saturday he loaded it up and headed off. I could see the excitement in his eyes at having it, even though he knew it would be a while before he did any serious riding with it. As the minivan pulled away, Shannon turned to me with a concerned look and asked if I was ok with that. The question actually took me by surprise. Not that she asked it, mind you, but by how quickly and easily I said, “Yes. I’m ok.”

I know that wouldn’t have been the case not that long ago. Seriously, I was never going to ride that bike again, so why had I kept it hanging up properly in the shed for…well to be honest the better part of five years? While I’ve been in my new wheels since 2011, I really hadn’t ridden it since before my 2010 surgery. It’s something that did stick with me through a very busy weekend as I pondered it. For a long, LONG time, that bike was a symbol of what I was, a strange hope that just maybe…one day…

That bike was the second one in my mountain biking career, started in the early 2000’s with my brother from another mother, Bruce. We started it together, riding the exact same Davinci bikes (ok his was a LOT shorter than mine…) which we bought knowing absolutely nothing about fat tire, mud slogging, hill crunching riding. We learned though. Within 2 years we had both upgraded to REAL mountain bikes. Nothing super high-end, but bikes that could grind through just about anything, and wow did they ever take us on some adventures. My Giant went from the Rouge Valley behind Bruce’s home at the time, to getting lost on double track in Durham Forest, to my first ever sideways fall off a makeshift bridge into a swamp of mosquitoes at Ravenshoe, to the mountains of Vermont and the camping adventure and wild night rides of Pedro’s Fest in Massachusetts.

Now look, I have no illusions. I was never a great rider. I’d be kidding myself if I claimed that and Bruce, Andrea, Albert and others would start shooting me down quickly (as I flash back to shouts of “LOW BRANCH!”) if I pretended I was some great rider. It wasn’t about that for me. It was getting out on those trails, finding new ones, hearing the wind wailing in your ears as your helmet was slashed by whiplike tree branches while you dodged boulders and tree trunks on a trail you could barely see. It was about finding that isolated stream on a scorching hot day and sitting down for a protein bar and a chat with ride buddies. It was about forgetting the rat race and just losing myself in feeling the pounding of my heart, the screaming of my thighs, the mud on my shins and the sweat trickling into my eyes. Oh and let’s not forget…you hadn’t ridden hard enough if you weren’t bleeding a little (thanks for finding another thorn bush Bruce!). I didn’t compete…I just loved being out there.

For a long time, I lamented losing it. I kept the bike as a strange symbol, one I still don’t understand, even as I knew I could have sold it and made some ok coin off it. Times change and moves on, and I can honestly say that I barely remembered the bike was still in that shed. Hell, I can’t even get TO the shed these days. So when the option came for family to use it and use it well….it was time.

I haven’t given up on my dreams of Ravenshoe and Durham Forest. The mountain hand bike is still on the radar. It’s just bloody expensive! So it’s on hold as I save up and consider the best options. This isn’t a case of buying a crap one to learn on then upgrading later…this I am going to do right. I do have my new Freewheel, though, which attaches to my chair and let’s me do some offroading that way. It’s a start and feels good having a little more freedom (more on that later).

So, yes…I’m ok passing on that Giant. I have the memories of its ride. Of the 1st Gen hydraulic disc brakes that barely worked at first, but finally handled the worst I could throw at them. Of the various seats I tried to ease the strain in certain unmentionable spots. Of the pedal cages I experimented with to circumvent the right foot that just wouldn’t stay on the pedal. Oh and the falls. Wow did that bike withstand those falls.

Here’s my throwback, to a gorgeous mountain view in Vermont, on the ride of my life with Bruce and Albert. My superman pose with my trusty (by that time) Giant. It will do my brother well. Thanks for those memories my wheeled friend. Now it’s time for some new adventures.