In the past few years that's actually become quite fitting of the order that, at least those three activities, would fall into as far as priorities go in my life.
And yes, the answer leaves a lot to be desired if you read this blog. No where in that response is there for example, mention of hiking, fishing, or hunting.
Then again, usually when someone asks a question like that, let's be honest, they're probably looking to make conversation, not trying to get a biblio in one breath.
Anyhow, the point is, there's one activity that has always been absent in that answer, and it's sort of ironic when I think about it: road biking.
For example, if this stranger I'm having a conversation with were to have asked me if I rode bikes, I would have said, "ya, I mountain bike."
Mile for mile though, I probably should have answered that I ride pavement.
Despite a long-standing dislike of roadbiking and roadbikers through my younger years and into the summer following my freshmen year of college, since the fall of 2005, most of my mileage has been on the inside of the fog line (or at least withing a few feet of it anyhow).
After I got into racing in college I learned that as much as I hated roadbikers and their rainbow spandex suits, being a so-called "dirt and singletrack purist" wasn't going to lead to any wins.
I gave in slowly at first, fitting my old GT hardtail with slick tires and exploring the roads of Saratoga County.
The big change came in the winter of 2006 when Ben Serotta of Saratoga-based Serotta bikes gifted several of his company's coveted frames to Skidmore Cycling.
Included in that gift was a supple practically made-for-a-mountain-biker steel Fierte that was passed on to me.
|Manhattan, somewhere, a hundred miles down, fall '07, T_Roe on my wheel.|
|A typical sight in the back room at 99 Lawrence in '06 and '07.|
|Headed down the Brooklyn Bridge in fall of '06, about mile 110 of a 115 mile day.|
The uninspiring roads of the central Kenai Peninsula made road riding more of a chore; the dust and grit on the highway further ground it down; and a short season paired with a seasonal fishing lifestyle kept it shuttered up inside for most of the year anyhow.
|Rolling into the finish of the MS Century on the fall of '07.|
Roadbikes are the stoic breed in the two-wheeled family. They run for thousands of miles requiring only occasional maintenance until one day, they make a noise. You fix the noise, the bike goes back to running. a far cry from their attention hogging mountain bike cousins who squeak groan and cry for time in the stand often and endlessly.
When I looked at the Serotta now though, tears just about ran from her drop bars.
The carbon seat post had a crack that ran about two inches long and though showed now obvious signs of straining, was a ticking time bomb waiting to go off on the next section of washboard dirt road or a big effort.
|Road bike purgatory, note the head tube, fork, brake and seat post are coated in snow. April '09.|
The 2x9 drivetrain had stopped shifting cleanly sometime last fall and the teeth were worn down and stained black with crud. Finding 9 speed components rings wouldn't have been impossible, but as I learned when I tried to hold the line with eight speeds a few years ago, resistance is futile. In this consumer-driven world more is better, whether you like it or not.
All of that could have been dealt with for about $750 though, more or less, but there was one other major problem.
Starting last spring, and again in the fall, but particularly this past winter on my weekly spins, my knees have been bothering me.
Not in a dangerous, or frightening sharp-pain or tearing kind of way, just, as was obvious by anyone who might have watched me ride, that I was too drawn out and I was sitting too far behind the pedals, even though my saddle was as far forward as the rails allowed.
That, was the frame, and you can't fix that.
|February '10, ya, that's gravel and ice under those tires.|
A year ago, this might have posed more of a financial issue, but I'm in a very fortunate position now in that regard, and after five years of hard service, rebuilding a bike that no longer really fit me for the third time in its life just didn't add up when compared to the price of buying something new that did fit.
On Sunday night I was thinking about all of this and more.
|Alaska hasn't been all bad for the Serotta. Kenai Spur Highway, spring '09. (Photo courtesy Moon).|
|The future, already as dirty as my car, though worth about the same...|