Last week, after a rare and enjoyable group ride in one of few rainless mornings this summer, I detached my trusty daily rider from the multi-bike rack and noticed a glaring metallic groove upon the left side of my once-black aluminum handlebars. And thus the Wound Count increased by one: Gouged bars due to improper load up.
The Wound Count is something every rider is familiar with, whether they are aware of it or not. It is the collective sum of damages that begin the moment the bike leaves the factory and end when either a) the bike degenerates into a pile of parts to be cannibalized by fresher bikes or b) said bike is sold off, traded away or donated. Someone else’s problem as it were.
I think it’s safe to say everyone remembers the first wound- that one leaves a permanent scar on a person’s psyche. As much as we tell ourselves that bikes are made to be ridden and can replaced, there’s no discounting that sickening moment when your pricey, cherished steed takes a beating hard enough to leave a mark: Chipped paint off the frame, gouge on a fork leg, a torn saddle.
There’s a clear and defining moment when any bike goes from being “like new” to “used”. How a rider deals with this is entirely subjective, of course. Some pay exuberant costs in aftermarket replacement accessories to keep their bike looking and feeling fresh. Others accept that damages to the bike are a part of the process and, unless it’s interfering with the performance of the machine, leave them alone. Others still show imperfections off like battle scars, often using specific damage as a catalyst to tell the uninterested riders around them of their heroism. “See this bent crank arm? That’s from the time I overshot the landing to the drop on Widow’s Ledge and exploded my helmet.”
As for me, the Wound Count on my trusty steed is getting long indeed. Sometimes after a hard ride I find myself gazing respectfully at the bike much in the way a cowboy must have after dismounting his well-past-its-prime horse. Wobbly legs, sagging back, but it still got him where he needed to go.
The underside of my deep green aluminum frame is marred by multiple points of raw, exposed metal from countless bike racks mercilessly squeezing the spars throughout the years. Several gears and the derailleur itself are conspicuously shinier than the rest of the drive train, having been replaced far more recently. I’m missing a spoke on the front wheel that snapped in protest to my efforts to tighten the last bit of adjustability out of it. My tubes are mismatched (slow leaking Presta valve up front, rock solid Schrader in the rear). And now there’s a nice gouge in the aluminum of my bars.
The writing is on the wall- until we invent inanimate objects with the ability to heal themselves, eventual replacement is the only solution. And honestly, it would have happened by now if only I had found the right deal on the right bike.
Even that’s a bit untrue, though as I have found what I needed, wanted and could afford in a replacement bike not once but twice in the past few years. In both instances I hesitated and then had the sense of entitlement to get angry when inventory dissipated. Maybe in my youth the concept of “you snooze, you lose” didn’t really sink in.
In any event the first was a brand new leftover Fuji Thrill on a clearance price so attractive, I should have bought out the entire stock and stored them away in a warehouse so that when one eventually failed, I could just go grab another and never miss a pedal stroke. Please disregard the fact that I would also need a warehouse to make this possible.
The second was an inventory reduction on the short-lived Breezer brand’s Repack Pro 27.5. This wasn’t quite a good deal as the Fuji and I’ve yet to fully embrace the charms of the 650B wheel after literally 2-decades of 26” devotion but never the less, it was the same fate as the Thrill: While contemplating taking the plunge, the remaining inventory sold out to individuals with faster trigger fingers and possibly their own warehouses.
In the mean time, while waiting for the perfect bike to come along, I get to replace things like spokes and inner tubes while watching Craigslist in the hopes of locating an Ibis Mojo on the cheap. The trouble with going used though is that you have to be cautious. Sometimes you’re getting an extensive Wound Count thrown in at no extra charge.
CG was mystified to discover the 29” wheel is finally making its way to Pro Downhill racing. He feels partially responsible for starting the movement.
In continuing coverage of Skibowl Learning Center’s Scott Connors, Ryan tracks the nomad himself down for an exclusive video interview concerning where the summer’s going to take him.
Ryan was told to pack his bags and head to Hood River so as to share with the world his view of the festivities. He’s back and he’s got the scoop.