Monday, February 16, 2009

Paging Ted Kaczynski

The friend of a friend recently brought this knife to a gunfight—aka the VaMoose 25—and found himself walking back to the parking lot before the ride on snowmachine trails really even started. It was completely the wrong bike for the conditions. Still, it was fun to see a such a relic.

For you youngsters, or people who have come to this sport in the past 16 or 17 years, what you’re seeing is a Stumpjumper Comp, circa 1989. And I’m pretty sure you’re looking at a whole pile of original parts. Early TIG-welded steel; toe clips; threaded headset; cantilever brakes; a metal frame pump; and, best of all ... Biopace chainrings. Seriously. They’re shark-toothed as shit, but still in action (sort of).

The guy who owns this thing seemed to still love it. Loyalty is a beautiful thing, But so is modern bike technology. I think this guy owes himself an upgrade.

Maybe after he buys a color TV and switches from vinyl to CDs ...


61 Degrees North said...

Wow. There are two of us.

I have a steel MTB almost identical to that one, but in much better condition. It has the biopace chainrings and the original cantilever brakes. I bought it brand new in 1988 and it was a pretty high end bike for the time.

I rode it hard for three years of college, but then it sat for about a decade while I grew old and fat. Several years ago I decided to get back into cycling and tried fixing up the thing and riding it.

Quickly realized that I should get something newer so bought a carbon/aluminum road bike and have put several thousand miles on it in the past few years. Finally broke down and bought a new Felt MTB hardtail this winter and have been riding it in the snow a little. Looking forward to this summer when I can finally bring my mountain bike riding into the 21st century.

Not sure what I'll do with the old steel 1988 bike. Might convert it into a commuter of some sort.

Bujiatang said...

single speed is the best way to ride old bikes into the long good night.

I've an old Miyata that I am in the process of rusting, and it works great as a single speed commuter. There are changes I'll make when the weather improves and I ride a road bike again, but those old things work till they don't. like my 72 Peugeot, the thing's a zombie, but when it does finally split in two, I'll pull all the parts and buy a Surly frame for them. and ride that till 2046.

Anonymous said...

Hey, my pre-internet bike is on the internet! Cool!

Well, well, well. Two weeks before the Vamoose, Willow trails were super hard packed, icy even, and I dare say I could have given a few of you fat-tired whippersnappers a run for the money. That’s what I get for not checking the weather!

Athena, my relic, is a 1989 Specialized Stumpjumper Comp. Sparkling new off the showroom floor, she was one of the nicer bikes of her time, a creature with strait lines and elegant simplicity, lacking in gadgetry. I paid dearly as a college student. Named for a warrior Goddess, over the years we have battled roots, quagmires, sand, fatigue, boulders, moose, bears, and traffic. After several complete drive trains, too many tires and brake pads to count, new rims after the brakes wore holes through the old ones, shifters, seats, and innumerable replacement parts, her backbone remains strong. She has a lifetime frame warranty, and she and I are very much still alive. I have the original receipt, and hope the day will never come when I contact Specialized with the bad news that I have outlasted her.

It is a great feeling to have ridden the same bike for 20 years! She’s an extension of me. Riding is instinct, wired in after countless hours. Without thinking, mind, muscles and machine move in harmony; knowing instantly, exactly, how we will react at all times, without conscious thought. Steady and solid all these years, my relic bike, she is a part of me.

My old bike has seen trucks and houses come and go; friends and girls come and go; jobs, all come and go. She has lifted my spirits countless times, taken me to the mountains to find myself and God in the wilds. We have ridden sandy washes in the southwest, rocky gulches in Colorado, frigid snowmachine trails at -10 in the Susitna valley, the adobe mud of an Alaskan 4-wheeler trail. We have ridden in ski boots, skis strapped alongside, leaving the glacier behind. How many times have I stopped on the trail, straddling my bike, and marveled at what Mother Nature was showing me? How many times pushed to the brink of exhaustion, near tears and leaning on the handlebars, miles from the trailhead. And for all she has given me, I admit my bike has suffered from neglect and abuse and I don’t imagine I really deserve her.

Rubber and mud, experiences good and bad, steel, sinew, memories, rides yet to come, grease and muscle, my bike and I together are capable of what neither of us can do alone. My bike has not been tossed aside on the trash heap of progress; she is very much alive! There will be no bike upgrade in my future.

Willie Nelson’s guitar named Trigger turns 30 this year, gaping hole in it and all.

Brent Veltkamp

Anonymous said...

Maybe he owes himself a new truck. Maybe he owes himself a new pair of poly-pro. Maybe he owes himself a new winter shell to replace that old turquoise one from 7th grade. Don't we all at one point or another owe ourselves various upgrades of the tools we use to live our lives. Maybe when our tools wear out we should all just sit down, grow old and fat. Or maybe we should live an elegant sufficiency.

Athena is both of these: elegant and sufficient. I have ridden her many times and look for ward to the next time I will mount her slender frame.

Maybe what Brent owes himself is a pat on the back. And maybe he should dig through the closet and pull out that old leather hair net to go with it. More will never be enough. What you have now may be.

Tim said...

Brent --

Touche, my man. It's hard to argue with love and passion, and you have both for your bike. That's a beautiful thing.

May you both grow old together.

(Though I still think that after a week on a new bike, you'd be content to give the old Stumpy a loving pat once in a while as you walked by its hallowed corner of the garage!)

TOMMY GUN said...

Nonsense, that bike is sweet. But if you're looking to "upgrade" here's a "new" '89.