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Now onto more important business.
I don’t know when this started, but within the last year or so, Throwback Thursday has become a thing on social media. At first I thought it was pretty stupid, but I kind of like it because I’ve started going through my old photos and taking a look at all the bikes I’ve owned over the course of the last thirty years or so.
It’s funny how I can tell you what kind of guy I was, what I was thinking, who I was dating, where I was riding back in the day, just by looking at an old photo of one of my bikes. So in honor of #tbt and the guy I used to be, here’s a few of my greatest hits, greatest rides, and weirdest rigs:
My Intense Uzzi. This thing was a pig, but it was my first real DH bike. That Foes fork on the front was a real bitch. I spent a bit of time on the phone with Brent Foes trying to get the right parts for it before sending it back to him to fix. And check out that floating caliper front brake…
This sweaty young gentleman was just discovering the joys of ten foot drops. He had not yet discovered the secret to successfully dressing himself. Also of note: badass 89 Toyota Pickup. This is circa 2001 at Hop Brook Lake in Connecticut.
This here is what we called the Maine North Shore. We spent a lot of time building it, only to have it torn down shortly after. It was pretty rad while it lasted. Check out my sweet Bell lid in this photo. Goddamn I was a sexy beast. (Photo credit goes to Nate G., the mastermind behind the Maine North Shore).
For those Mainers out there, this was off the Ho Chi Minh trail in Orono. In retrospect, building all this shit was probably inadvisable.
I got a wild hair up my ass to try my hand at 24 Hour racing, and this was my first race rig. This was at the 24 Hours of Adrenalin in Massachusetts, circa 2003. I did it as part of a 5 person team and boy did I stink up the place. I think I did a grand total of 2 laps, but I was hooked. I would end up doing many more 24 hour races with mixed results, leading me to understand completely that my role is to go slow, enjoy shit, and drink beer.
Trek 9.8. At one time, way back in the day, I fancied myself a racer. You’ll notice the shaved legs and speed blur. That’s cuz I was rad or something. I disabused myself of this notion a few years later when I moved to Arizona and learned what fast was really all about. This photo is circa 2003, in Orono, Maine.
Giant NRS-1. I think this must have been 2000 or 2001. It was a full squish rig that reminded you with every bump that it was full squish. You know that sound your couch makes when you’re banging a coked out hooker on it? No? Well it squeaks like a motherfucker, and so did this Giant.
Take note of the Primal Wear jersey. Motherfucker still couldn’t dress himself, could he?
Jesus fucking Christ what the fuck did I think I was doing on this thing? It was a wrist killer, it was a taint grinder, and it was fun as hell. I rode this beast for about a year before I figured out I was too much of a pussy for one gear. It would be about eight years before I went back to a singlespeed, this time with a suspension fork on it, and I dig it now that I know what I’m in for every time I ride it. For extra punishment, I’ll occasionally ride a singlespeed with 40 Hands. Because self-loathing, that’s why.
Once I totally destroyed the Intense, I bought an Azonic, because, ya know, I was poor (and still am). The most noteworthy thing about this bike was the number of concussions it would give me. This one’s circa 2004 in Waterbury, Connecticut. I still haven’t learned to dress myself.
My job. My home. I worked here through college and no place has ever felt as comfortable to me. The owner, Jim, is basically the kindest man I know, and he put up with a lot of my melodramatic college bullshit. It ain’t the fanciest shop. It ain’t in the most glamourous part of the world. But it is, and always will be, my bicycle home.
I saved this gem for last. I got this while working at Rose Bike. It was a clapped out junker hanging out in the barn behind the shop. Jim was something of a pack rat when it came to vintage stuff, and this one was buried deep. He let me have it and I stripped it down, then turned it into a fixie (this was before hipsters…I was into fixies before they went mainstream. Har har. Get it?).
Why the hell did I ever sell this thing? Oh, right, because I was poor and needed to pay rent.
I still have this saddle, an original from the 60s that was given to me by my former step-dad. The black ribbon is still on there, too. RIP Matt Kelly.
Sure, it’s a hipster boner, but it was my first “vintage” bike, the first time I really realized how much craftsmanship used to go into bicycles. I started to notice the lugs, the curves, the paint, the dropouts, the fine details at every junction. This was the bike that made me understand bikes were more than just trail toys. I built those wheels, I overhauled those hubs, I went over the bars and went to the bars, I went on wild rides through Orono and even wilder ones through Flagstaff, AZ with some of the best people I know. This bike is what solidified my belief that bicycles are the most important thing in life. Because when you start rolling on two wheels, other people, good people, start rolling with you. What the hell else could be better than that?