This story is going to require a bit of background, so we'll break it up into two parts. Or more if needed, but as of this writing, I'm suspecting it will be two parts.
Depending on when you met me (Adam) I was likely involved with "x" discipline of cycling. In recent years that X would be cyclocross, prior to that road, and prior to would be mountain bikes. The trends of cycling wax and wane like anything in the world and frankly, so do my interest. But at the root of it all, I'm a mountain biker.
This past weekend I attended Dark Horse Cycles MTB race out in Montgomery, NY: Singlespeed-a-palooza. I was riding this bike:
So while I was riding 28 miles of really fantastic singletrack in the Stewart State Forest, it dawned on me that I have been riding mountain bikes for over 20 years. And before you jump the obvious conclusion that of course riding that 20 year old bike was full of nostalgia and "brought me back in time", that's not what I'm talking about.
In the beginning...
I had a bike, it was red and white and it was awesome. Originally, it had white tires on it, but I skidded through the rear so it ended up with a black tire in the back. My first tire mullet. Also, note the Tour de France sweat suit.
As a family, we went camping in the summers. Station wagon, tents (a pop-up camper too), screen houses, marshmallows, the whole bit. If you don't know, campgrounds have a spider web maze of dirt roads and trails which also happen to have rocks that just so happen to be great for getting rad on. See below:
There are a number of other bikes that came after this red and white bike with spokey-dokes. One was black with 20" wheels, another was blue with 20" wheels that my dad found. It had a coaster brake that I managed to eliminate the brake function on and rely solely on the marginal hand brake.
First mountain bike-
The way I like to tell the story, whether or not it's true, is that my uncle Jerry read an article in Outside magazine about a new sport called "Mountain Biking". This was in the early or mi 90s. So he goes to the local bike shop B&B Cycle and Sports and buys a mountain bike. Which, I don't remember what it was, maybe a Diamondback or similar entry level mtb. Later, he'd upgrade to a Proflex. Which at the time were completely ground breaking. Thought later we would realize how strange a full suspenion MTB with a chromoly swing arm and elastomer rear suspension really was. Oh, and canti-lever brakes. Anyhow, fast forward a bit and my dad gets a mountain bike which which was a Diamondback Topanga. Eventually he upgraded it to suspension with a Manitou Mach 4. Elastomers baby!
I want to go with you guys!
I'm not sure if I asked and begged to go riding with them, or if I was invited. That part, to me, is irrelevant. Though, in thinking about the time line, I think I was invited. Since I had just received and awesome 21 speed Huffy Street Heat for my birthday. Which birthday? I don't remember. It was purple-ish with hi-viz bits and lightening bolts. The White Heat was a popular bike then, but the Street Heat was WAAYYYYYY cooler. Ironically, I can't find a picture of a Street Heat on the internet, so here's a white Street Beat (it had a built radio on the handlebars). Most notably, it had steel wheels. In my experience, steel rims with side-pull caliper brakes does not make for great braking. Particularly off-road where your rims may encounter things like mud or water. And so, I proceeded to ride the wheels off of that thing. In retrospect, because I didn't weigh much, the bike held up pretty well.
Next after the Street Heat I got a "real" MTB in the form of a fully rigid, canti-lever brake equipped Diamondback Outlook. It had some rad plastic thumb shifters and that's all I can really remember about it. After a few rides, it became apparently quickly that this bike wasn't going to cut it. So, we returned it to the store for a Diamondback Sorrento, which was still a fully rigid chromoly 26" canti-lever equipped bike, but it had some nicer components that were more up to the task of GETTING RAD. It had 7spd trigger shifters!
That bike was bright blue. And it got the ever living shit kicked out of it. At some point I skrimped and saved enough money to put a down payment on a suspension fork. A sweet sweet Manitou Mach 5. Which was full of elastomers, which come to find out, don't work in the winter because they freeze. Oh. So there's that.
Part 2 coming soon which includes highlights like the LaFleche, a chromoly/carbon fiber hard tail. Noleen suspension fork and Speedplay Frog pedals.