Tuesday, May 24, 2011

First Ride Blues

It's funny how often something will get broken or damaged on the first ride you take with it.  You may recall that I destroyed the rear wheel of the the first set I ever built on the first ride I took on them, for instance.

A few years later, in 1997,  I had just gotten a new DiamondBack V-Link Pro.  It was a great bike, my favorite full-suspension rig that I've ever owned.  It had Shimano  XT V-Brakes, as much suspension travel as my first motorcyle, and the aluminum frame was polished to a high luster.

I installed gray handlebar grips, because I thought that they accented the polished frame.  Then, I found that QBP , the largest bike parts wholesaler in the U.S., had gray Selle Italia Flite saddles in stock. So, I ordered one in, hoping that it would arrive in our next parts shipment, before the guys and I headed to Moab for a 3-day weekend.

The day before we were to leave town, the QBP order came in.  I dug through the box, and there it was;  my gray Flite!  I bolted it onto the seatpost, and put the bike in the back of my truck.

The next day, we drove to Moab, and got into town around lunch time.  After a quick bite, we all suited up and headed out on the SlickRock Trail.  The weather was good, I was feeling strong, and I had a brand-new full-suspension bike to take up the bumps.  All was good.

Problem was, I ended up having one of those days when I just couldn't ride for anything.  I shifted to the wrong gear for climbs.  I bobbled on the slow technical stuff and had to put my foot down more often than the mother of 4-year-old twins.  It was just not happening for me.

The kicker was, about three-quarters of the way around the trail, I was riding along the edge of a drop which was about 12 feet high, when I let the front wheel slip.  In order to avoid falling all the way down to the next flat spot, I had to abandon ship and grab the rock. 

My bike took the fall, sliding all the way down the near-vertical abrasive sandstone wall on the corner of my brand-new seat and the end of my brand-new grip.  The grip only lost a few chunks of rubber, but the seat...

The leather and the foam padding were removed, down to the plastic seat base, over an area about the size of a Kennedy half-dollar.  It was basically ruined.  Forty dollars, at my cost, down the drain.

Still, I ended up using that seat on two or three different bikes, over the course of the next 10 years.  QBP never had the gray Flites in stock, again, and it was the most comfortable seat I owned.  So, I rode some really nice bikes, with a really beat-up seat, for quite a while.

A beat up seat which didn't even make it through its first ride.


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