Monday, August 4, 2008

The Raleigh Rides Again!

Raleigh Logo

They said it couldn't be done. They said it was a relic. A beast meant for a scrapyard. They said the only reason it was still alive was to serve as a reminder of how far we've come.

At approximately 11am yesterday morning, my '96 Raleigh M7000 full-suspension mountain bike aka Crusher, proved the skeptics wrong.

He got off to a rocky start. Stolen out of my garage when he was only a few weeks old, potentially by the father of a jealous neighbor, my current M7000 is actually M7000 #2, thanks to the efforts of a loving family who realized my attachment to bikes early on and who couldn't take my bawling over the loss of Crusher #1 any longer. I still have his original brochure.

Weighing in at an impressive 30 lbs, Crusher still shifts like a pro with grip shifters, has magenta bar-ends that match the rear shock, and now sports two different SPD pedals.

He was with me in '96 for my first, and second to last, mountain bike race the summer before high school, where I wore corduroy shorts, Betty Boop tube socks, Adidas indoor soccer shoes, a rainbow-mesh covered helmet, and plastic sunglasses from Old Navy to ride my way to a respectable 6th place in the "older girls'" category of 14-17 years old.

Crusher is molded to my body, having ridden my 10 mile "epic ride" with me every day without fail from my freshman through senior year of high school. He then spent three years battling snowy, cold winters parked outside a college dorm only to return to his native environment of warm, sunny weather, ready to someday kick ass again.

And that day came yesterday, in Snow Valley, at an Xterra race.

Raleigh M7000

(Crusher and I after the race...when I realized I should take a picture of him and he was already on the I left him up there.)

The course was not technical. Perfect for Crusher, whose front shock seems ready to take on small things, and whose back shock prefers to side-step everything, moving side to side instead of up and down, in what is perhaps an ingenious evolutionary move.

Just like loose ski boots keep newbie skiiers from having to take every ill-conceived turn they might initiate, Crusher knows that I may not always have the best idea about which line of descent is best for us, so he side steps my bad ideas.

But even Crusher, who was ready to take the entire loose, sandy descent of Xterra Snow Valley like a pro, was no match for my brain, which vetoed riding a few sections of the course. We ran like madmen, hand in hand, until reaching an acceptable mounting point to proceed. Crusher even withstood the impact of a very large man who took a line to the side of the beaten path right into Crusher's behind. Upon verifying this opponent was capable of continuing on, despite completely rolling over his bike, Crusher and I continued on our mad dash for a line of descent more suitable to our riding style. (A style defined by riding once a year--the day before the race to preride the course.)

Crusher anticipates my desire to shift and effortlessly glides into the appropriate gear. Grip shifters are da bomb, and I have no idea why they went out of style. Climbing like a champ, Crusher and I descended once again into transition, unscathed and in relatively good position. (Shonny Vanlandingham, mountain-biking mega star who won the Southeast Xterra Championships this year, blasted by me just out of transition. And a few other women passed me on the downhills who are less afraid to eat dirt than I am.)

Crusher set me up for a good run, not too far behind the women who crushed us, and I set my sights on picking off the ladies ahead of me as I ran straight up and down the ski mountain 4 times. Apparently, I was saving my crash of the day for the more suitable location of running downhill right in front of a photographer.

In the end, Crusher rode me to 1st place in an age group that actually has more than 1 person racing in it. It was awesome.

So to all of those who looked at Crusher and laughed at his rosy bar-ends, "archaic" shifting system, and squeaky shocks, I say, look out! He'll catch you off guard when he passes you next! (That is, if I can ever learn to let him do his thing without hindrance from my brain.)

Yea for rockin' old bikes!

1 comment:

  1. Lol.. Crusher is highly evolved, he understands your desire to shift. i love how all of Crushers quirks were of advantage to you!