Back in 1988, my dad gave me a used Legran High Gear mountain bike that he had fixed up for my high school graduation. Actually, as I've been thinking back, my dad provided all 5 of my bikes over the last 30 years...and my mom helped when I needed parts. With the exception of the first bike which was stolen before I really got a chance to use it, I got an incredible amount of use out of all of my bikes, but none more than my ol' blue bike. I've had it for 15 years (my entire adult life) and have logged thousands of miles riding it around the beaches and mountains here in Santa Barbara....for pleasure, exercise, and transportation. My bike has a lot of sentimental value to me, both because my dad gave it to me and because we've ridden so many miles together. I have always chosen to replace parts as they break or wear out, as opposed to opting for a new bike. It has been tempting sometimes, as my bike only has 10 speeds (not quite high or low enough) and being made of steel and chrome it weighs a ton...but those all just lead to a better work out...I do consider my bike the Hummer of mountain bikes.
Last week I turned in my parking permit and started riding my bike to work, which I do from time to time during the dry season. I do it mostly for exercise, but there are nice side benefits...no parking fees, environmentally conscious, and getting to experience nature in the canyon where I live. Today (May 6th, 2003) was my 4th day riding to work. I was enjoying my ride home and was on my way up the canyon (1.8 miles from home), riding at a pretty good pace of about 12mph slightly uphill. All of a sudden the handlebars gave way...with one swift motion (and more grace than I knew I had), somehow, without the support of my handlebars, I managed to launch myself off my bike and land unscathed on my feet and in awe what just happened. Surprised that my handlebars broke completely off and even more surprised I did get a scratch on me...I stood there for a moment taking in what happened and counting my lucky stars. I'm lucky it happened going uphill, as I ride down a steep windy mountain road in the morning at speeds over 30mph. Lucky it didn't happen in traffic. Lucky it didn't happen in one of the areas where there is a cliff on the side of the road. It really could have been bad...though I was still sad to look at my poor broken bike. I had my cell phone and could have called someone for a ride home, but decided to push my bike up the canyon (tricky when the handlebars aren't attached).
I think it's time to retire ol' blue. Eventually I will get some new handlebars and keep it around for occasional beach cruises, but I'm taking this as a sign that it's time upgrade and get a new bike for my daily rides...flying down the mountain in the morning. If anyone has any good tips on a decent affordable new or used mountain bike, I am in the market. I'd like to get something ASAP, so I can get back to daily riding (and not have to break down and buy back my parking permit). I'm not sure what exactly I'm looking for. Something with good brakes for the downhill. I'm interested in the disc brakes I've been seeing lately, but don't know too much about them. Other than that I'm pretty wide open at the moment. I haven't done too much research on bikes...I know they've changed a lot with shocks, 20+ gears, weird frame designs, etc. So if anyone is up to speed on what to look for, I'll take any tips on features and/or what's the best place to buy a bike these days.
I've added some pics of my ol' blue bike...some I took today and a couple from 15 years that my dad sent me before he gave it to me.
More pictures (Before and After)