Many years ago a couple of wonderful people introduced me to mountain biking. Often when I come to the crest of hill overlooking an expansive valley, a stoney canyon or the calm blue surface of the sea, I take a moment to mentally praise Chad & Stacey. It wasn’t easy getting me back on a bicycle as an adult with a ’68 Impala and bad attitude about cyclists.
However, as far as somewhat specialized, mildly “extreme” extracurricular activities go, I quickly found out that getting into bikes required a steep initial investment followed by uncontrollable impulses to constantly upgrade. It’s obsessive consumerism as I’ve never experienced before. Better bikes and better gear would make me a better rider—or so I told myself. In less than a year I went from a $450 entry-level Rockhopper and a pair of cutoffs to padded cycling shorts, clipless pedals and fantasies of owning incredibly expensive, highly-evolved, handmade, two-wheeled contraptions. That’s when I first met my Cannonade.
Flat black. Lock out shock. Disc brakes. I wondered into the bike shop one afternoon and fell in love with what was supposed to be the lightest hardtail on the market. With support from Cristi and a brand new Citi card in my pocket, I dropped more money on the bike than I’d ever spent in my entire life. It was 2001.
Now let’s fast forward to yesterday. After living in four different states and racking up at least 16 different zip codes, I’ve held on to the Cannonade. I’ve maintained the bike, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t ridden it regularly for years. But thanks to a little planning, a couple of text messages and some friendly persuasion, I found myself blazing through the beautiful woods of Marin County with my buddy Gray.
The trail was incredible. The views were breathtaking. The photo ops were plenty. Best of all, the Cannonade was having a good day. All was well when I came to the top of a climb and encountered a group of dudes decked out in lycra and logos. In the process of nodding, saying hello and politely judging one another, a guy in the back of the posse rolled my direction.
“DUDE, look at that bike, OLD SCHOOL, man…that’s so awesome…only one shock.”
The funny part is that I wasn’t trying to be anything, but apparently he was impressed. A few hours later, I parked my old school bike, cooked pork chops on an old school charcoal grill, while listening to old school Ray Charles. When I put it all in perspective, there are many words for the person I am today—I suppose old school is one of the more flattering options.