My first wheeled rig (that I can remember) was a Strawberry Shortcake Big Wheel. Big Wheels were pretty badass, except that the wheels wore out pretty quickly. You couldn’t really stop either. My neighor Ravi had a Knight Rider one with a brake lever, and I have to admit I was kinda jealous of it. It was all black and stealthy.
Next I upgraded to a Strawberry Shortcake bike with training wheels. It too was pretty sweet. I occasionally rode my brother’s red Schwinn with the sparkly banana seat, and more frequently after he got a Mongoose BMX bike (for some reason my mom liked to ride it too).
Then the game changer- my parents bought me an “adult bike”- a light purple 10-speed. That was a big deal. Many of the streets in our neighborhood were dirt, so maybe I was doing some primitive form of cyclocross on skinny white tires. I think I rode it on trails in the woods too. Years later my friends got one of the first “mountain bike style” flat-bar bikes. I was JEALOUS. Fortunately she liked my 10-speed so we swapped for a while.
Then…bikes stopped being cool. Until my senior year of high school, that is. I needed a bike for college, so that summer I bought a ridiculously heavy Specialized Hardrock for $200. I don’t know how I learned about mountain biking, but somehow I ended up riding the trails at Island Lake rec area. I have very fond memories of that park- night rides with a handlebar-mounted radio, being chased by a swarm of deer flies, and the “big” hill that I thought was so difficult.
That Hardrock met the fate of so many other bikes at MSU- stolen outside Brody Hall during my freshman year. Maybe those bar ends I bought at Velocipede Peddler made it look “pro” and more expensive than it really was. Regardless I was crushed. I started shopping around for a replacement and came home with a $800 GT Pantera. Upgrading from steel to aluminum was a Big Deal.
That summer I decided to try my hand at racing and drove by myself up to Ithaca for a Fun Promotions event. I think I got 3rd. I did a lot more races after that- time trials at Island Lake and regular races at Addison Oaks, Bloomer and Pando. Oh, and the famous Iceman Cometh too! Someday I will do that race again. 27 miles seems so ridiculously short now. I remember lining up against Kelli Emmett in the sport class at Cannonsburg. Ha!
I’ve also owned a variety of road bikes along the way. My first was a white Peugeot with downtube shifters. I should’ve kept it- I see them all over Seattle. My boyfriend at the time talked me into a crit at an Italian-American club in Windsor and I crashed into a guardrail. I didn’t do another race for like 16 years. Still don’t like them.
Then I met Eric. He’d never been mountain biking before. That could’ve been a deal-breaker. So he borrowed my friend Ben’s Santa Cruz FS and I took him to Highland rec area. It was way too technical for a first ride and I vividly remember the dull thud as Eric hit the ground. Oops. He stuck it out though and ended up buying my friend Todd’s Trek 8000 which he kept for years until he upgraded to a mint green Ibis Mojo.
While working my summer job at REI I pro-dealed a Breezer Lightning with XT and Syncros wheels. Total upgrade. I loved that bike (and still have the frame in the basement). I rode it for years and raced in California at the Sea Otter and Rim Nordic Ski Area near Big Bear. Despite an abundance of races in CA I never really got into the scene there. Maybe because we lived in Bakersfield and most venues were too far away. Or maybe because we were too busy road-tripping to national parks and spending time in our pool. I did, however, upgrade to a Santa Cruz Blur because the Breezer was kicking my ass. I really miss riding in California, particularly the Santa Monica mountains. I also miss riding alongside road runners and coyotes in Bakersfield. It was so hot that you had to ride before 8am during the summer months!
In 2004 we traded in the sun for rain. We moved to Issaquah and quickly discovered the Grand Ridge trails, not more than a 5-minute ride from our garage. Awesome. Well, sorta. I am not fan of riding in cold, wet weather, even after living here for 10 years. I rarely washed my bike in CA but here it happens after every winter ride. Mountain bike racing took a backseat to adventure racing until 2009 when I did my first 24-hour solo. I think I completed 11 laps. I tried again in 2010 and ended up winning! After that I was a little burned out on mountain biking and focused on CX instead. I really like CX because it requires minimal training and well, less committment.
My last bike was the S-Works Era. It was sexy and lightweight but unfortunately too big. I sold “El Blanco” halfway through my pregnancy and have been without a mountain bike ever since. My last ride was the Thrilla loop on Christmas Eve. That was a long time ago!
Now that I have, um, other obligations I’m not sure what to do about riding. It was such a big part of my life pre-baby. I simply don’t have time for it anymore. Living in the city makes it tough too- until I’m done nursing I’m on a ~3-hour tether and driving to a trailhead after work is a pain. Plus I’m away from Amelia all day and don’t want to be gone till 8pm. I need something to get excited about, maybe a new bike or a really fun race. Any suggestions?