Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Out with the old

Date: March 31
Mileage: 30.1
March mileage: 636.3
Temperature: 38

My Gary Fisher Sugar sold on Sunday. I went to my local bike shop to pick up a shipping box, realized they were closed on Mondays, and drove around back to dig one out of the rubbish pile. (I was disappointed to discover that there was no Orbea in that box. Just tattered packaging materials.) Tomorrow I will box Sugar up ship him off to his new home in the frozen land of Minnesota (where I'm sure he will feel right at home.) Tonight is our last night together.

I wanted to take him out for one last ride, but I didn't want to tarnish the scouring I gave his drivetrain or risk damaging a part of a bike that no longer belongs to me. I felt a tinge of regret when I realized I couldn't remember our last ride together. Since I discovered he needed a new bottom bracket, he's sat idle - and sometimes in pieces - in my front room. There was never a grand send-off, never a tearful goodbye. I like to joke about being in love with my bikes, but when I'm honest with myself, does it really matter? Can I really be so emotionally attached to aluminum and steel? Well, yeah. Yeah I can.

When I think about Sugar, I think about years (three years!) and miles (thousands!) during which that aluminum and steel carved its way into who I am and how I see the world. When I think about Sugar, I think about myself as a fearful novice coasting the gravel rollers of the Idaho Falls hillsides. I think about gaining more confidence on the steep singletrack of Millcreek Canyon in Utah. I think about honing my exploratory skills on the elaborate web of trails beyond my new home in Homer, Alaska. I think about discovering my endurance on the soft slush beyond the Susitna River. I think about perfecting my technical moves as I repeatedly circled the same loop during the 24 Hours of Kincaid. I think about realizing the power of unconditional joy as I kneeled into the dirt, nearly cashed out, at the top of Resurrection Pass. When I think about Sugar, I think about growth. I think about change. I think about loss.

But the truth is, this is good for me. It's good to make a clean break. The fact is, Sugar is still a good bike and deserves to be ridden, deserves to be thrashed, deserves to be ground into the dust he was destined to become. No bike deserves to rot amid the cobwebs and asbestos in an apartment basement. Every mountain bike deserves a dignified death by steady abuse, if not a brilliant flash-out in a blaze of glory. If I'm not the one to levy that abuse, if I've moved on, then I have to let him go.

It does help that I have something to distract me ...

Hoo boy!


  1. That is one pretty little monkey.
    What will you use it for mostly? shorter racing events?

  2. you got yourself a monkey? cool! enjoy the steel goodness!

  3. Investing all your emotions in steel, aluminum, animals and nature is "safer" than making the investment in another human.


  4. I'll raise a pint to Sugar.

    Any excuse you know...

  5. I think you get a real emotional charge from any vehicle you have to lean into turns. All my motorcycling friends have names for every one of their bikes; I've tried (selfconsciously) to name my bicycles, but it's felt forced. They'll name themselves when it's time.

    That said, when I donated Stumpy to a local bike non-profit I moped around for a couple days. I hadn't realized how many places we'd been together (not always vertical).

    I feel sorry for someone who thinks the only valid emotional investments are in people. Sheesh!

    JAT in Seattle

  6. Hi Jill,

    I just found your blog on Sunday and I am really enjoying it. You are helping to inspire me to train harder and go out into the cold to ride. At least what passes for cold here in CA. Keep writing, this is great stuff.


  7. JAT, I think you should reread the post about emotional investments.

    I'm afraid you missed the point.

  8. Jill ~ ~ ~

    Kudos to you for being able to part with Sugar. You documented her ride history over the years via your blog so not all will be lost. She'll live on in the mind, heart and soul.

    AS for your new ride ... wow! Your Monkey is going to kick some serious Monkey Butt! Hope you get to enjoy your new ride soon

  9. Your Monkey will be a sweet ride. I'm still trying decide which route to go...
    29r single speed or 29 1x9, complete or build?
    Love the blue :)

  10. I think it's cool how women discard a bike, it's called "personal growth". When men do it we are "heartless bastards".
    Enjoy your time in the sun Monkey.
    See ya on ebay pal!

  11. fair enough, anonymous.


  12. Very nice blog. Your Header is very cool. I have posted in my german blog about your blog. Sorry for my English.

    Biken in Alska

    Greetings from Karsten

  13. The bike I cycled across Canada on is still in the storage unit. Stripped of parts and bent to the point of completely useless, I just can't bring myself to throw the frame away... I just can't.

    I need to buy a new house with a garage so I can hang her on the wall with dignity.

  14. Helmets, tech crap, ah the deterioration of youth. Same Myata road bike for 34 years, same shitty green trek MTB for the last 20. *Always* waiting for Titanium at the top of the hill.

    Used to ride in snow, until I figured out there was a place called Spain.

    check out Roz rows the pacific.

    M. Atta


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