You know that friend? The one you’ve spent lots of time with? Where you know them really well and can just click even after spending a month, or a year apart? Bikes can have that same wonderful feeling. My “old friend”? My Ritchey Carbon Breakaway Outback.
I had the opportunity to re-build my Ritchey after it sat in the attic for a year. This is a bike that I’ve had since it’s release and affectionately call, “My Forever Bike”. But after a year riding something ‘fancier, newer’, I am ashamed to say it was placed in storage - taken for granted.
As I started to plan the build, gather parts from other bikes, memories flooded in. The paint chip on the down tube was from that time I got to ride with Tom, himself, or the scratches on the chain stays were from when I went over the bars on a trail I had no business on, or the rubbing marks due to peanut butter mud from my first UCI CX Podium…on a travel bike.
As my mechanic Colin built up the bike, my excitement grew and grew to get to ride it, to see it built up, to see what my usual routes, trails and roads would feel like - to see if it was how I remembered it.
And it was just how I remembered. Once I was able to swing a leg over and go for a ride? Wow. Just like that friend that you haven’t seen for a year but who you can talk to like absolutely no time has passed, we just clicked. There was no re-learning, just re-discovering. Being able to let the bike ride, unconsciously knowing what it would do and being able to sit back and just enjoy the nostalgia. [And the excitement of another new beginning with an old friend].
Just like that old friend, an old bike might not be flawless in every scenario, but that adds to the fun, the subtlety, the nuance of the ride. I found myself giggling uncontrollably when we hit our first set of rough dirt road - when the bike absorbed the bumps in a way that was so specific to itself. And in that moment I was reminded of all of the other rough dirt roads that we’d taken together in the past, all of the trails, the UCI races… every pedal stroke was a connection to the old and the new.
You may be reading this and asking, "What is your point, Ben?” My point is, maybe don’t get rid of your bike to get the next, newest, “better” thing. I would encourage you to try something new on the old bike. New bars, a different type of tire, even just fresh cables and housing (do those still exist?) and you can capture some of that “New Bike Day” feeling, but on your old bike, over and over.