This is the bike that started it all:
(a good old Trek 1500: low-end but lovely racing bike)
I bought it in 2005 after I graduated from college. My roommate and I had just moved away from our shabby house in Portland into what I think was the last affordable apartment in Lake Oswego (it subsequently turned into a schmancy and prohibitively expensive condo, of course). It was a fantastic place to live, if nothing else because we were right on the water and I could kayak every day, but it was pretty darn far away from most everywhere else I needed to be.
That was when the whispers about buying a car started. “It might finally be time for one,” people told me, as though buying a car were a necessary rite of passage into autonomous adulthood. But I didn’t really want a car. They’re expensive, for one, a daunting financial prospect when you’re just out of college with only a few private tutoring gigs. Besides, I didn’t have the slightest idea about cars. How do you buy a used one without getting screwed? What do you even look for? How do you fix it when it breaks? What’s the deal with insurance? I was overwhelmed both by how much I didn’t know and by how little I wanted to learn it.
Instead of a car, I ultimately decided I would buy a bike. A fast, light road bike, a bike that would take me places faster than the well-loved and clunky mountain bike I’d been riding since high school.
And that bike is how I fell in love with biking. It was so light, so spry — it practically begged to sprint up hills. It zoomed down them. It turned corners as fast as I dared. It lured me into longer and longer rides — not just rides to where I needed to go, but evening and morning rides for the heck of it, rides for the sheer joy of bombing down a hill with tears streaming down my cheeks and a giant grin on my face. That bike taught me the joy of riding out with no necessary destination, just some energy and a will to discover.
Several years later, James bought me a trailer, and it became my adventure travel bike too. It took me on my first (and first solo) overnight bike camping trip, to the Columbia River Gorge, then on longer and longer trips: through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mt St Helens. To central and eastern Oregon. Down the California coast, then down the Oregon coast too. Through the Hood National Forest. Down to South Lake Tahoe.
(a ridiculous rainy set-up featuring trailer and Trek on the OR coast)
Over the years it’s been ransacked and had many of its parts stolen; it’s flipped me over the handlebars once; it’s worn down countless chains and chainrings and cables, not to mention brake pads and wheel rims. But I fricken love this bike. So much.
Eventually, though, I had to admit I might be outgrowing it. As I demanded more from my bike for longer adventures, I decided I wanted a bike that could take racks. A slightly heftier, more durable steel bike with built-in carrying capacity. A bike with full fender clearance. A bike with disc brakes that didn’t destroy my wheels the way my Trek’s side-pull brakes did through winters of wet riding. And that’s when, about a year and a half ago, I built my current Soma.
(a much burlier build, this Soma — with Crater Lake in the background)
Since I’ve been riding that one around, my Trek has mostly been sitting in our basement. I take it out every so often, generally when I want a long and fast ride that doesn’t require carrying too much with me, but it’s been a long time since its last excursion.
Long enough that yesterday, when I got back on it, it was like falling in love all over again. I’d dropped my Soma off with Corey at Seven Corners Cycles for a check-up before I take off on a few weeks of adventure, so my Trek is a back-up bike for a few days. I pulled it out of the basement (it’s so light!!), pumped up the tires, and BAM! Instant reminder of how much I love it. I’d forgotten how sprightly it is, how spunky, how it practically jumps under me when I spin the pedals. Biking on it feels like dancing.
I love my Soma, and I love how satisfying it feels when it’s weighted down with a few week’s worth of adventure supplies, like it was born to carry me to remote places (which, in fact, it was). It comes into its own best when it’s loaded, but it’s not necessarily a fun bike on its own.
This Trek, though. Damn.
It turns 10 in September, while I’ll be out and about on my Soma in foreign lands, on an adventure that seems possible in large part because of all the earlier adventures that this Trek opened me up to. And for the next few days until then, I’m pretty psyched to ride it again.