By Stevil Kinevil
It wasn’t the first cyclocross bike I’d owned, and it’s most likely not going to be the last. I can say, however, without reservation that beside all of my other bikes past and present, it’s my very most favorite. I suspect everyone has one of those. It’s the pony in the stable that can read your mind. It’s the arrow in the quiver that always flies true. It’s the spot in Homer Simpson’s couch that happily envelops his obese, yellow form.
I rode it in eight hours of driving rain during a group ride I’d organized in celebration of Joe Parkin’s first book, “A Dog in a Hat.” Not surprisingly, he’s not ridden with me since.
Crushed by heartbreak and my face still wet with tears, it carried me home after putting my beloved Maine coon cat to sleep at the conclusion of a long battle with illness.
And it was on this bike I’d once crashed so spectacularly, it was as if God herself had thrown me like a Chinese star across the earth. Such a long time did it take my carcass to finally come to rest that I’d actually thought to myself in real time, “Good lord … this is taking forever to end.”
At some point during the final month of 2015, I slipped off the side of a trail, launching into the abyss, and when I came to rest, noted that I’d landed on a shard of metal hiding in the ivy, opening my right calf very nearly to the bone. My bike kept going, landing some 25 feet below me in the maw of an inaccessible wash. After snapping a photo of the gaping wound for posterity’s sake and clawing my way back to a nearby road, I sheepishly inquired with the responding firemen that since they didn’t have to drop a bucket off the hillside to extract my body, if they wouldn’t mind rappelling into the beyond to fetch my bike. Being the heroes that they are, they obliged. Once I healed up, I rode the bike to the fire station, bringing with me 2 pounds of coffee beans and a family-size jug of bourbon as a thank you for their efforts.
I’ve ridden in cyclocross as well as mountain bike races on it, the latter of which was a foolish endeavor for someone with my obviously questionable skills. Ironically (or not … thanks to Alanis Morissette, I’m not even sure what the word means any longer), the first time I ever even laid eyes on the person who would eventually build it for me was in 1995 at the second ever running of Occidental, California’s legendary and short-lived Ring of Fire mountain bike race. I’d just finished battling it out in the sport class and was sitting trailside when all 20 people racing in the singlespeed class shot past. One of those individuals among the group was hard to miss. At well over 6 feet tall, and about as big around as one of my legs, the bloke in question was mixing it up on one of them skinny tired ’cross bikes. It wasn’t then that I thought to myself, “That’s dumb” or, “Why would he do that to himself?” With both of our moms as my witness, I thought it was just about one of the coolest things I’d ever seen, and immediately knew that whoever he was, I wanted to know more about him. Eventually, I came to learn that his name/nickname was Rick/The Stick, and he was blessed with the kind of stupid strength your drunk brother-in-law has when he picks you up and spins you around above his head at Christmas. Perhaps it was around this time, or a bit before, or maybe a little later that he began building bicycle frames. Approximately one decade later I possessed one of my own, and as I previously noted, we began a long-standing and mutually abusive relationship with one another. It has been to such a degree, Rick recently declared that if I ever called him again with a tale of me doing something unwise upon it, he’s no longer fixing it for me, but rather just putting me in the queue for a new frame.
Until that time comes, I’ll continue on with a relationship not all that dissimilar to that of a best friend/worst enemy, making old adventures new again, pedaling out across paved roads to nowhere and flowing brown ribbons of singletrack, and perhaps most importantly, figuring out new and creative ways with which to show it my love the best way I know how.
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