Sunday, September 21, 2008

Gecko's Last Ride . . .

Today I said farewell to an old friend. Gecko my trusty mountain bike of 18 years is no more (actually, what remains is sitting forlornly in my garage). 

What happened?

Today was a cross training day for me and I decided a light and easy ride north on the BG Trail to Bothell and back would be just the ticket. A nice way of ending the summer before buckling down for yet more syllabus and Blackboard classroom prep. So off I went.

Pretty uneventful ride actually. It rained all day yesterday and everything was wet. Not many people out—runners and walkers with some bikers—and a nice stiff headwind going North. Most of the construction on the trail out between Kenmore and Bothell is complete with the addition of a nice new underpass (there are now two) and nice, smooth, and sticky Blacktop (like riding through molasses actually). You can now buy the Architectural Mistake for $699950 if you've a mind to. There was someone sleeping in a sleeping bag in the tunnel just past the Wayne Golf Course, he did not stir as I buzzed by. 

There is a fork right after the tunnel where you can go left onto the BG trail that runs along the river or straight over the river and then up from the bank. I chose the latter and kept going getting a good glimpse of Blyth Park. I had to cut down to the main trail after a bit and headed down hill over some grass. 

After a little bit on the BG my rear started wobbling and the chain started skipping. Couldn't see anything wrong and shifting didn't seem to help, although that was working, so I stopped and checked the wheel and tire. The tire seemed a little soft so I pulled my mud-encrusted pump out of its position (this took some doing) and aired up. The axle was fine too and the wheel was centered in the frame. Hmm. It wasn't until I set the bike down and took a step back that I saw this:

I couldn't believe it. One of the chain stays had simply snapped and I was 11 miles from home. Aw Nuts! But it was in Bothell and I had a cell phone so I called home and M came out to get me. Lucky really. This could have been much worse and happened while dropping Iron Horse at high speed a while ago OR I could have been way out backabeyond

I hung out with the chickens for a bit, at least until they told me I had to get moving:

(snobby birds those chickens, although I did notice they were hanging out with rabbits)

Had arranged to meet M at a shopping center with the Ivars and an Indian Restaurant so I walked my bike back and over to "The Park at Bothell Landing."   Chatted with people along the way, for some reason both they and I were in jovial moods, petting some dogs, and scared at least on dog as I scritched over the foot bridge in my cleats. Got pretty hungry too. 

There is a European Deli in the shopping center and it was the only place that was open, even the coffee house was closed (a coffee house closed on a Sunday morning?). The guy running the store was some kind of Eastern European and when I asked for a pastry he immediately said we have some fresh Piroshky. Yumm. Chicken Piroshky and a bottle of Kubus, a Polish mixed fruit and vegetable drink (it was pretty interesting actually). 

Went out into the parking lot next to Main and 522 so that I could be visible enough for M and hung out in the "Town and Gown Loop" sitting area. Lots of people looking at me, nobody asked if I needed help. Good thing it wasn't raining. :-)

I cannot tell you how many miles, hills, single-tracks, and crashes (it is me after all) this bike has carried me through. The Gecko Genesis was one of the first Elevated Chain Stay bikes and was designed particularly as a hill climber with high clearance under the bottom bracket for the great many rocks on the back country trails. With its original forks installed I could pop the front up simply by flicking my wrists. Putting heavy Answer Shocks on only slightly dampened this. It was rigged for aggressive riding too: drooping Answer bars (black of course) with a stem that put me way out over the front wheel and as much titanium as I could afford. All-in-all, a big, heavy, well-balanced bike that I actually enjoyed riding more than the Fat Chance that I bought from a friend. Oh, and it had a wicked paint job too: Dark Blue/Black with White splatters and Smoke that you could not see. It spent a lot of time dirty in SB but had not seen much use until the last couple of years up here in the PacNW (the older and busier I got the less inclined I was to being harum scarum). Indeed, a couple of years ago I took it into Ti Cycles (now closed) for an overhaul and the mechanic who checked me in said it was a museum piece (not any more I fear) and suggested some updates (a shorter stem and riser bars because nobody rides in "attack" position anymore, it is too uncomfortable). 

I doubt I'll find anything quite like it and I'd really like to fix it but the steel around the break would always be weak. Still, I've had 18 very good years. 

As I get older and more distant from my time in Santa Barbara these links fade and fall away—my Adventure Programs T-Shirts are now all faded and really only fit for yard work. I am feeling a little sad about all this, not because a piece of technology has now worn out but because this bike is/was a link to my younger self. Perhaps it captured and held my soul. 

But now it is time to look for something else. Maybe a Cross Bike?


PS. Thanks to all my friends who have kindly offered me loaner bikes. You understand. 


PuddleThumper said...

The bike gave it's all. Time to acknowledge the meaning the bike had for you but move on. Did it hold your soul? Only if you let it. I got a nice mountain bike you could use too but you'd have to change the tires back. :-p

And happy bike researching.

rpd said...

Yes it did! :-)

Happy Bike Researching?

Surly? Soma? What?

This is more fun than researching new televisions. :-P

But what am I to do with all the old parts off of Gecko. This stuff is so old as to be probably useless.