The beautiful ride you see pictured above is one of my prized possessions. However, I’ve decided to move on. The story of this particular bike starts 2 bikes previously in my personal ownership continuum. I used to have a Rocky Mountain Stratos. It was a solid, manly, raw aluminum all-purpose wonder. I loved that bike, too. I had scrimped and saved and traded in another bike to purchase the Stratos. As I was riding to visit a friend for coffee one late fall morning, I randomly thought “this is the type of bike you might want to insure”. I locked my Stratos up, went for coffee, came back, and it was gone.
In the spring, I decided on a new, cutting edge (for the early 90s) MTB for my new ride. It had carbon fibre tubes, bonded to alloy lugs by a magical space age adhesive, top of the line Shimano XTR components, and a Rock Shox Mag-21. I had forgotten two things. My back injury, and the geometry of the new bike. I’m no dope, and I worked at a bike shop (yes, sometimes dopes work at bike shops), so I had tried to estimate what my new un-test ridden bike would feel like by riding bikes with similar geometry. Didn’t work. A summer of uncomfortable cycling led me to search for a solution.
There was no way I could afford a new bike, but there was a tantalizing frame hanging in the rafters of another bike shop across town that gave me a come hither look every time I went in. It was a Rocky Mountain Vertex (the one in the picture, The Big V), and closer in fit to my Stratos than what I was riding. Being young, and tired of being uncomfortable doing what I loved, I decided to repeat my mistake. Well, at least partly. I did ride a few Vertexes (Vertices?) to see how they felt. They felt great, like meeting an old friend.
It wasn’t easy changing all the parts over, as anyone who’s ever built a bike from scratch can tell you. I needed a new fork crown, and a new bottom bracket was required, a few other things. But The Big V and I bonded while I built it (Him? Her?). We were soon traveling to amateur races in Canmore and Hinton, commuting in Edmonton (I’d call it quits at -25 C and take the bus, I’m not nuts), and training in the river valley. We spent weekends riding in Banff and Jasper, and every summer, a trip to North Vancouver and Whistler for some very memorable rides (not to mention the après ride).
I moved to the States, carried The Big V with me down to San Jose, propping it up against the wall of the hotel room every night on my journey down. You can have what you want out of the car, don’t steal my bike (again). The number of rides diminished a bit. I still commuted on it and explored the San Francisco Bay Area a little bit, grad school takes its toll in time and money. But 10 happy years were spent there riding together.
I moved again. To San Diego. Family. New Job. You ride much, bro? Not anymore, but let me tell you about my bike…
So 2014 rolled around. Offspring number 1 (OS 1) and I had the opportunity to participate in a 280-mile 7 day ride from Yuma, AZ to Encinitas, CA. Halfway through training, Big V’s right shifter broke. Shifters are pretty important, but no problem, I thought. I can handle that with the help of my local bike shop. “Nope, we don’t stock that anymore”. OK, Google, what have you got for me? “Oh, you’ve got one? Why does it say “vintage” in the description?”
Vintage? I was rattled, like a loose bottle cage. The Big V and I had been together almost a quarter century (for those of you who can’t imagine having owned something for that long, it’s a painful realization, and it’s coming) The Beatles at one time wrote “I’m not half the man I used to be”. I, however, am 25% more of the man I used to be. Big V’s frame seems to flex under my weight in ways it previously hadn’t. It’s hard even to find a seatpost that fits, no one uses that tubing size anymore. I know this because as I lifted The Big V to load on the rack, the seatpost broke. The one that supported my ever-growing bottom for almost 25 years picked the day I was going to sell it to break. Was it a plea to stay? A final passive-aggressive response to my decision? What if that had happened on our epic ride? I may not have been able to get parts and complete what was a once in a lifetime bonding experience and rite of passage for OS 1.
While the frame is still solid, it’s time. It’s time to move on. Keep the memories but give up the memento. I bought a new Rocky, a beautiful orange Pipeline, christened The Creamcycle. Great for MTB, but not for the tour, so a Solo was soon added to the mix. They were unfamiliar, sizing is different now, my riding style is different now (I no longer race and almost everything is different now) but both were comfortable and rekindled my desire to ride.
Here I am, still cycling after 40 years and 4 Rockies, and never once disappointed.
- Jeff Godun