Mountain Bike Nirvana

When I purchase something, I'm not usually one to make a big deal out of what it costs. I also usually don't look forward to buying things - the acquisition usually isn't the high point. In fact, when I get something new, I usually face the event with dread. Some people think about the new, sweet little puppy that will come home. I think about cleaning up puppy dirt off the carpet for two weeks , until the little fur ball knows how to ask to go outside. Some think they would be happy with a sweet little kitten who would love then and snuggle them. I think I would be happy when the kitten grows into a young cat and kills a rat for me. I am happiest when I am in the midlife of things - a car that is well tuned, and doesn't break down. A bike that really works great, fits me well. Let other people constantly buy new stuff. I'll go with comfortable.

Which is why getting a new mountain bike is a big deal for me. I ride them hard. The last bike I bought - was more of necessity than anything. My car was in the shop, and I needed to get to work - the only option open was biking from one town to another, a morning commute of about 30 miles. So I hoofed it over to a store and bought a new bike. It seemed nice. It was the high end of their line. But after about 200 miles, and a few dirt bike track runs - I sheared the back sprocket off and parts were starting to shatter. I ended up selling it at a garage sale, leaving me without a bike for nearly six months.

That drought ended today. My daughter and her friend like to ride bikes, and they want me to go with them. I've been working so many hours that I've not been home - but last week, I borrowed a bike and we rode together. I forgot what it was like to have a heart pounding hill climb. Or to race around a corner. And my body responded almost immediately, dropping right back to seven pounds under where I have been for a while. I thought carefully about the proposition. I am not made to be sendentary. I need a bike. So I went to Craigslist.

Craigslist has changed, but not much. There's a bit more spam these days - forcing you to wade through bike shops posting their ware. There were low end, and high end. The first bike I looked at seemed too good to be true. A Gary Fisher at a really low price. I asked the guy several times - about the specs, and he said he resells them - and it was a good bike. He rode it. Everything works. But when he arrived, I looked with dismay upon a really great bike, with great components like Rock Shox, and really nice high end derailleur, sprocket, and shifters - fitted onto a bike that fit a rider somewhere sized between dwarf and elf. I was so horny to get a good bike I rode it around in the parking lot trying to convince myself to get it. But it just didn't fit.

I found three bikes, after about an hour and a half, maybe two - of searching. Sent out as many threads as I could. One guy comes back to me, and he sounds kind of like a wisenheimer. But the bike is nearby. The price is high, and so I resolve to see the bike - and then decide.

And when I first cast eyes upon it. I suddenly realize who I am talking to - the number one rated XTerra racer in the United States. And the bike he is about to jettison, is worth a small fortune. The price was higher than the others - but the bike was so well put together - I had to try it out. And it fit me like a glove.

But the back wheel made a strange hollow sound. I asked him about that. And he said that it probably needs a new cassette. He nonchalantly picked the bike up and took it inside to his bike stand, and proceeded to put one in. I asked if he could take a lower price, and he agreed.

This bike is so solid, so good - it's begging me to take it on the trails near where I live. It feels so good to ride its hard to believe. I am going to ride it to work. Everywhere.

Part of the original rationalization to buy a bike was that somewhere along the way my son will be getting into a really great school - and we're going to need a new car. I was hoping to motorize the bike and use it for the commute. But being on this new bike, is kind of like a state of nirvana. Speaking to friends last night, we came to the realization that I can average almost 20 miles an hour on the bike on my own power. Trading up to 30 or 40, and having to deal with a messy engine kit - almost isn't worth it. I can leave earlier by a half hour or so, and pull in an additional 5.00 a day savings in gas just hitting the commute on the bike.

It seems as if the way things work with me sometimes, is that I have to trick myself into buying something. The process is not linear. But once I have found a quality product, I will stick with it. In this case. A GT Tequesta with Manitou Black Shocks, XTR Shimano Shifters and Derailleur, Mavik wheels, Dura Ace Crank and Carbon Stem. The shock has a lock configuration that lets me ride hard when I need to, and its air adjustable. The shifters are way cool - they're built into the brake levers and you hit them and tip shift just like the shimano flight deck off a road bike, hit them down to shift down, and up to shift to a higher gear. The setup works incredibly well for fast shifting up a hill.

I bought a GT when I lived in San Francisco, actually purchasing a rental bike. The money I had to lay down for the bike was rough. But in a short amount of time, I saved it all back in cab fare and covered the entire town in my bike - there was almost no place in San Fran that I could not get to , relatively quickly, on that ride. I kept the bike for seven years, and eventually thrashed it. But sold what was left of it for a decent price. The person who purchased it was an orthodox catholic who used it to bike 7 miles to mass each dawn, and eventually fitted the bike out to carry groceries. It's still working for him. This bike, the GT Tequesta - In my view approaches the high end of the GT Line, above the Avalanche and their other models - the components are stronger. A similiar geometry; better components with a strong feel. Slightly on the heavy side but in a Mountain Bike that's not a bad thing. A good downhill run or a big jump is something that carries with it alot of momentum. The m ass of the bike can work to your advantage in stability, carrying you down the hill with good handling, and getting you down safely. It's a happy medium.