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Sunday, April 2, 2017

I LOVE MY BIKE

"Bike Envy" isn't something that I get.  Sure...I might do a double take at the latest bikes on the floor of Gung Ho Bikes...but it's not like I ever get that "I need to have that and I need to have it now" feeling.  If you are that person (Glenn, I'm speaking to you) then March and April, when all the new bikes are on the floor of the shop, have the potential to be better than Christmas.  Last March (2016), for the first time in five years, I purchased a new mountain bike...and I love it: 29 inch wheels, hard tail, carbon fiber, and orange.  No sir...I don't think I'll be experiencing any bike envy this year. 

My 2016 Stumpjumper on it's maiden ride in Swatara State Park -- March 5, 2016

That's not to say that I haven't had my fair share of mountain bikes over the past 22+ years.  They haven't all been Specialized...but they ALL have been purchased at GUNG HO BIKES...the BEST BIKE SHOP AROUND.  Over the years, my bikes and biking gear have run the gamut from no suspension to full suspension to some suspension...bright colors to flat black and then back to bright colors...biking gear straight out of a Seattle grunge scene to spandex to baggies & t-shirts.  I've had some really great bikes, a couple that I absolutely loved, and two that I couldn't wait to rid myself of...but each has a story to tell.  Here are, in the order I owned them, the mountain bikes that have taken me on more journeys than I can count.  Enjoy...

1995 GT TIMBERLINE

My first mountain bike was a 1995 GT Timberline.  No suspension...but after a massive crash in the summer of 1996 I added the front suspension (visible in the pic on the right).  I owned the bike until I donated it to charity in 2006 -- Left: Riding now "Forbidden Four" at Rocky Ridge County Park --1995.  Right:  Riding Rocky Ridge County Park -- 1998.

2001 GT AGGRESSOR 2.0 

 2003 GARY FISHER TASSAJA

Two of my least favorite bikes.  Top:  My second mountain bike was a 2001 GT Aggressor 2.0.  It was too big and cumbersome for me (for some reason I purchased an XL frame).  I have no pics of me actually riding the bike.  I sold it to some college kid back in 2003.  Bottom: My third mountain bike was a 2003 Gary Fisher Tassaja.  I didn't hate it...but I had no love for it.  For some reasons (and my friends will have a hard time believing this) I have zero pics of this bike.  I sold it on EBAY in 2006.

2006 SPECIALIZED STUMPJUMPER COMP

One of my all time favorite bikes...and I parted with it too soon.  I bought my first Stumpjumper in July of 2006.  It was the first bike I raced with and it helped me navigate the swamps of West Virginia in June of 2007.  It had a SIMPLICITY about it that I loved and that I missed when we parted.  Pic:  Sugar Loaf Trail in Ohiopyle State Park -- 2007


2006 SPECIALIZED EPIC COMP

The only time I was talked into a bike was in the summer of 2007 (not that it was anyone's fault but mine).  I purchased a 2006 green Specialized Epic that the bike shop used as a demo bike.  It was a step up from Stumpjumper and it was the first full suspension bike I owned.  I raced that bike hard and it served me well. Left: my new 2006 Epic in the back yard.  Right: racing in the 2007 M.A.S.S. Relay Race in Marysville, Pennsylvania -- April 2007

2009 SPECIALIZED EPIC EXPERT CARBON

My 2009 carbon Epic was the first carbon bike I owned, up until that time the nicest bike I had owned, and by far the most expensive bike I have ever owned.  I can trace my love for red and black color schemes back to this bike.  I had the bike for a little more than a year....for that was the year that a s**t load of personal problems took center stage.  I parted with it in September of 2010 for far less than it was worth. Left:  Bringing home my new carbon Epic -- April 2009.  Right:  Riding the rocks in Michaux State Forest -- May 2010.

2010 SPECIALIZED STUMPJUMPER FSR

I hated this bike from the moment I brought it home.  It was a shadow of the red carbon Epic it was meant to replace, it constantly had mechanicals, and it was the last full suspension bike I would own.  I parted with my black 2010 Stumpjumper FSR in June of 2011...brighter and better days were ahead! --  Left: resting on the Cumberland/Adams County line on the "Easy Button" in Michaux State Forest.  Right:  Coming through a waterlogged tunnel at the Lakes -- May 2011.

2011 STUMPJUMPER 29er COMP

Back to the basics!  My 2011 Stumpjumper 29er brought me back to the days of hard tail simplicity.  My first 29er...and yes...I was forced to admit how much better it was than all my 26 inch wheel bikes.  I rode this mountain bike more miles, through more mud, up more fire road, and over more rocks than any other bike, to date.  I loved how it rolled, how it moved, and how it looked.  This bike gave me 5 years of mountain bike bliss...it was a bitter-sweet moment when I parted with it in April of 2016.  After five years, it was time for something new... Left:  My 2011 Stumpjumper resting on the Deadwoman's Hollow Trail sign in Michaux State Forest -- May 5, 2012.  Right:  Riding rocks in Michaux State Forest -- April 12, 2012

2016 STUMPJUMPER CARBON COMP

...and now, the new.  Well...new last year.  My 2016 Stumpjumper Carbon Comp is hanging in the garage and has patiently been waiting for my back to heal.  I was pretty nervous about parting from my 2011 Stumpy...but one ride on this bike cured me of that!  I'm completely blown away at how smooth this bike is on the trails.  No regrets and absolutely no bike envy lurking on the horizon.  Left:  My final ride on my 2016 Stumpjumper (in Michaux State Forest) prior to my second back surgery -- October 30, 2016.  Right:  Riding down through THE GUT in Rocky Ridge County Park -- October 14, 2016.

With high hopes of of getting back on my bicycle within the next month (it's been a long road) I can't help but feel grateful, hopeful, and a little humbled.  Sitting on my butt for the better part of the past year has really made me take stock of all that is good surrounding me.  I'm a pretty fortunate guy with a lot of good things all around me and a new appreciation of it all.  I love my wife...I love my family...I love my friends...and yeah, I love my bike.  I'm really looking forward to that next first ride.

Love my road bike, too!  My 2012 carbon Specialized Roubaix...super sweet ride!


Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- April 2, 2017

Thou shalt not covet thy best friend's mountain bike...unless that friend leaves it in your garage overnight! Thank, Mark! -- November 2016

Do you have a favorite bike (past or present)?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Here's a list of GARMIN maps and stats from a few of the rides featured in this post:

MARCH 5, 2016 -- Riding Swatara State Park with Mark.

OCTOBER 14, 2016 -- Riding Rocky Ridge County Park with Timmy.

OCTOBER 30, 2016 -- Riding Michaux State Forest with Mark and Kristian.

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