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Returning Dusty – cycling to California on a 20 year old MTB

5 July, 2012

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The Ride: Dusty McLeod is a steel mountain bike, made by Marin back in the day when suspension meant installing balloon tires (presumably, I was still mostly puttering around suburban streets and paved, home county routes). Weighing 36lbs including racks (but not panniers).Image

Though I’ve only had this bike for perhaps a third of its life, it has had an interesting dotage these past five years. For one thing, it wasn’t always this sketchy dayglo orange and green with large patches of black, it had a rather convincing all black paint job when I first saw it. Who knows how that came to be? All I know is that I found her (yes, she is a mare) at Bikeworks, my favourite East Van bike shop — probably my favourite bike shop anywhere, for that matter.  Everything on this bike is from Bikeworks apart from the rear tyre,the front rack, and the bell. Having had two bikes stolen in two years, I wasn’t interested in owning the shiniest bike in the shop, just one that doesn’t stand out as the most valuable on most bike racks.

And so this trusty steed remains by my side, revealing her true colours as the dodgy paint job flakes off. Strangely enough, she was once stolen from me, outside my apartment while I slept. I reported her stolen and was incredibly surprised six weeks later to find her chained to the rail in front of Bikeworks, which happens to be next door to where I was working at the time. Still trying to  figure that one out, but perhaps we were just meant to be together! She had been abused and utterly neglected in that time, but the ever helpful Henry Hulbert (one of the least snobbish, yet most knowledgeable mechanics I’ve met) at Bikeworks tended her wounds.

Despite all of the above, I have more than once thought about selling her/giving away the frame, and using her parts. I’ve had this fling thing with a far younger singlespeed that’s lower maintenance, and a rather pretty ten speed ‘Ki — even older, but more stripped down and zippier around town. I almost gave her back to Bikeworks earlier in the year, before realizing that she’s really my only option when it comes to touring. Because I tend to travel solo (talking to my bike etc.), I really don’t want to be spending all the time that I’m not on it worrying about whether the $1500 wallet-muncher is still there. Indeed, this bike cost me all of $50 initially. I recently spent as much again on the rear tyre, after a spate of bad luck re:punctures that.you.would.not.believe, and perhaps another $50 on replacement parts and maintenance over the years.

The Rider:

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