Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My Old Two-Wheeled Friend

Seems I haven't had much of any theological or spiritual significance to post about lately. Guess that's just where I am right now.

But one thing that I have been doing lately, however, is getting back into road cycling. Over the past two weeks I've managed to put in around 200 miles, a good start on my goal of at least 1000 miles for the summer. I really enjoy cycling, the freedom and the connection with the road and scenery (yeah, there is some of that in eastern Nebraska), the exercise and the sense of accomplishment when you've finished a big ride. For me, cycling is at least as much a mental refreshment as it is physical. And I love the elegance and engineering of a well-designed and built road bike. Like my trusty old steel steed that I am riding, that has taken me many miles in the past and continues to do so.

My road bike is a 1986 Trek 400 Elance. Yes, that's right, 1986. I bought the bike new in May of 1986 for a whopping $375, a lot of money for a bike (for me at least) in those days. I have developed a great relationship with my Trek, it fits me better than any other bike I've ever ridden and the well-built Reynolds 531 hand-brazed steel frame rides smooth as silk. When I go out riding with some of the other guys around town, on their slick new aluminum and carbon fiber bikes that have all the cool technology and more gears than I can count and super-tanium this and that, I kinda feel out of place. Sort of old school. But I have yet to be out ridden on my old 400, at least against other riders of my ability.

Yes, I do run out of gears when it comes to climbing hills, with my old 12-speed drive train. Yes, I'm a little slower on the sprint due to the extra weight my old Trek has on it (23+ lbs) compared to the light newer bikes. Yes, I still have to reach down to get to the shifters instead of just flick the brake levers like the newer bikes have. But I'm so used to all this that it doesn't bother me that much.

In fact, I've been looking seriously at getting a new bike lately. One with an aluminum frame and carbon fiber fork, 27 speeds and other such features. But it seems the more time I spend on the old Trek, the harder it is to even think about getting rid of it. We've been a long ways together, and even though it's showing some signs of wear, it'll still take me anywhere I want to go. And today I came across a website dedicated to old Trek steel frame bikes. And there I found the original dealer brochure for my bike:

There she is, in all her original glory. And mine looks exactly like this, except for updated pedals and handlebar tape. And then I read about all the other cyclists who like me are still riding these old Treks and loving them and collecting them. I have to say, I am torn. On the one hand, it's a piece of machinery and can't last forever. Sooner or later I am going to need to spend some major dollars to keep it going, like for new wheels, etc. But on the other hand, my old 400 Elance is like a trusted old friend. It would seem like betrayal to replace it. So there's my dilemma.

OK, so those of you that don't love bikes and cycling probably just don't get this. That's alright. It's a cyclist thing. You wouldn't understand.

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