Reach for the Summit
A bicycle belongs on a pedestal as much as your backside belongs on a sofa.
It might seem like a good idea, but it’s against its nature.
I’ve thought about that a lot as I’d stroll past our Super Pro sitting in our Factory Showroom in Eugene.
Don’t get me wrong. It looks great. Spectacular.
So does a Cheetah at the zoo.
Now, I’m not ashamed to tell you that my true drop-bar days are behind me. They have been for years, having embraced the comfort and safety of fatter tires and various suspension tricks [consider me the President of the Thudbuster fan club].
I have this strong desire to be able to dive into a ditch to avoid disaster on tires thicker than my thumb. That’s just me.
But that Super Pro. Dang if it didn’t call to me like an ancient Siren.
When I headed to Colorado for the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Denver, Feb. 22-24, I flew Southwest Airlines with the Super Pro and a Carbon Infinity tikit Â packed into two suitcases. Yep, two bikes flying at no charge. Love it.
It has been 12 years since I’ve been in Colorado, a place I lived as I enjoyed the sweet life as editor of VeloNews magazine back in the 1990s.
We’re lucky to have these two great shops supporting our bikes. Both are full-service dealers who know more than a little about catering to a customer who believes in custom designs.
Heading up to Boulder meant I had the chance to check out my old stomping grounds. We owned a nice spread out in Loveland, near Carter Lake.
The memories flooded my mind. Colorado is where my daughters were born. They now head to high school each morning. Â Wow. Time flies.
I drove around in a bit of a haze, remembering a past life. I drove some of my old cycling routes, amazed at the fitness I must have had at one time to ply these roads on my 35-pound dual suspension Jamis.
I couldn’t help but drive up to Pinewood Reservoir, and just check it out. My daughter Sierra spent her first night camping up there. Well, almost the first night. She lasted a couple of hours before we headed home about 3 a.m. Heck, she was just 2 years old. It was the start of a love affair with camping for our family.
As I drove up the twisting, turning road I marveled at my long forgotten climbing ability. I do get out for an occasional mountain bike ride these days in Oregon. Mostly, though, I’m a commuter. With commuter fitness. You know, my biggest climb is the bridge over the highway. That sorta thing.
When I got to the top of Pinewood and looked out over a herd of Elk grazing on the incline, it stirred something wild inside of me.
The Super Pro in the backseat taunted me. Oh, no. I figured it would be ugly. Still, I had to know. How far up the climb could I get these days?
Knowing that the only witnesses were focused on chewing grass, I drove back down the hill to give it a whirl.
Again, remember, my lycra-clad roadie days went the way of the down-tube shifter. I packed light for this trip, which meant no cycling shoes.
If I was going to crank the Super Pro up the climb, it would be in my heavy hiking boots and long pants. Nothing fancy. No full pedal strokes. Halveses.
I’m a realist, and set my sights about a mile up the road where I saw a smaller herd of deer. Fitness aside, what dominated my thoughts were the t-shirts I saw at the airport in Denver.
Emblazoned across the chest it reads: “Got Oxygen?”
Starting around 5,500 feet elevation [that’s a mile higher than Eugene’s elevation], I churned out of the campground lot with a snowstorm charging in from Denver.
It didn’t take long to remember that a dozen or so years ago, even at my best, getting a full chest of oxygen was no easy task in this thin air.
I passed a new herd of deer about a half mile up. Witnesses who can confirm I made it this far. Super! Now it was just a matter of time before I would succumb to gravity. Or exhaustion.
Just past that group, I realized how sweet the Super Pro felt. Just a shade under 16 pounds, the Super Pro danced beneath me effortlessly. My old Jamis weighed 2.5 times as much. Light is nice. Real nice.
Climbing on small wheels? Not an issue. It’s all about the engine, baby.
I felt the temperature dropping while my legs were burning. I swung out of a swtichback to a straightaway, where the mountain disappeared on a steep slide just off the shoulder.
Down a hundred yards another lone deer watched me closely. I warned him of the approaching storm and laughed.
Time, it seemed, if not stood still, reversed.
If it didn’t transport me back 12 years, it zipped back decades further. Young again. On a bike. Slaying a hill.
I nearly lost all my momentum and my chance at redemption when I began to giggle a bit, overwhelmed that there’s a lot more left in my tank than I had imagined.
I swept around curve after curve, surprised my legs were kinda of enjoying this and absolutely flabbergasted my breathing slipped into a comfortable, measured rhythm.
In no time I hit the summit. I climbed about 1,000 feet in elevation over 3 miles. OK, not exactly the Tour de France. Still, I felt mighty proud.
I snapped a quick photo, and savored the view.
Yep, this is the kind of pedestal a bike like the Super Pro belongs on. For a moment before your descent. It’s in its nature.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: That Super Pro found a new home by the end of the weekend. Chuck Ankeny down at Pete’s Electric Bikes snatched it up. You can check it out at his shop … or, most likely, see him on it out on the road.]
How fast do storms move in Colorado? I took that photo above, descended 3 miles to the campground, tossed the bike in the car, and drove to the top to measure the distance.
Then took this photo from the same vantage point: