In 1985 I bought my first mountain bike. It was a Specialied Rockhopper. I think it cost me $400 which was every penny I could scrape together from various summer jobs. It was such a cool bike with Shimano Exage components. It had an oval chain ring which was a new exciting innovation made to improve power transfer, help you get a date, etc. I road it around the neighborhood and even ventured so far as the Upper Palisades lakes on it. Then I hit high school and discovered girls and my bike sat in the garage.
Fast forward a few years and I was living in Japan. Staying true to the Specialized brand I bought a Stumpjumper. It was beautiful in red with grey tires and grips. It ended up being an urban tool to shuttle me through the crowded Tokyo streets. When I had the opportunity to live in “rural” areas it carried me past rice farms and bamboo forests. Still it saw little dirt. Then one day I was out riding and ran into a group of guys tackling the concrete walls that line a lot of the rivers in Japan. They formed a steep angle down to the river with a sudden change in direction at the bottom where the angle of the embankment met the flat concrete at the bottom. At this point my Stumpjumper had a fixed chromoly fork. I set off down the embankment the thrill of the acceleration spiking my adrenaline. Then I hit the bottom. You might say I hit rock bottom. I failed to pull up in time and the sudden change in angle resulted in a sudden stop in momentum. I slammed head first into the concrete receiving a mild concussion in the process. When my eyes would focus again I found that I had folded my front fork into the frame. In need of a new fork I found that Showa, a Japanese company famous for making motorcycle suspension, also made a mountain bike fork. I replaced my poor chromoly fork with a bright yellow Showa that had 100 mm of travel. I also discovered needed a new front brake for my new fork and discovered V-brakes. I also discovered their increased and sudden stopping power as I found myself flying over the bars several times.
When it was time to return to the US I brought the Stumpjumper with me. Then I got married. I bought my wife a Specialized. We took a road trip to Moab and enjoyed a spring break mountain biking the amazing trails. Then life hit, we bought a house, got jobs and the bikes hung lonely and sad in the garage. In the meantime I wasted away at a desk writing code and getting fat.
In 2007 I visited a local bike shop with a friend. I had a truck and he didn’t and he needed a way to get his bike home. While I was there waiting the owner invited me to test ride a bike. At first I declined. I was 205 pounds. Just walking up the stairs was leaving me winded. He persisted and since I had nothing else to do I took it for a spin. I fell in love with a Jamis and came back the next day and bought the bike. My first ride was half a mile around the neighborhood. I came back so winded I thought I would puke. I kept riding, adding a little bit of distance each time and frequently wanting to puke. I started riding the 7 miles to work. I tried riding with my friends and felt like I would die. I kept trying and eventually the miles started to add up to a fitter, faster me.
2008 rolled around and I found myself back in the same shop. My friends were buying Santa Cruz mountain bikes. I couldn’t resist and I picked up a Santa Cruz Blur XC. It was a beautiful silver bike with X01 components. The same day I embarked on my first mountain bike ride in many years with said friends and the shop owner. The shop owner had just finished racing the NORBA nationals in Park City. I had just finished a bag of M&Ms. Within the first minute of riding all of my associates had disappeared into the mountains. I coughed and wheezed up the hill.
For the next few years I mainly stuck to road biking. I did mountain bike but my rides were typically limited to the Logan River Trail and occasionally Green Canyon. Then a couple of proactive mountain bikers built a trail in Providence Canyon right by my house.
It’s 2021. I weigh 165 pounds. I’m in the best shape of my life. I’ve ridden tens of thousands of miles. I own several bikes of all kinds that keep me riding no matter the season. The sport of cycling has cost me plenty in money, time and injuries. It’s also given me health, sanity and an escape from the daily grind. The payoff has far exceeded the sacrifices. I get a bit edgy on days when I can’t ride. I’m not a pro rider and you won’t see me take the risks of the twenty-something Red Bull riders. You will find me on a trail or road pretty much every day engaging in the sport I love.