RIP, Sweet Trek 614 of 30 Years...
September 25, 2012
After 30 years of loyal service, my sweet old Trek 614 met its glorious finale at the Swamp Thing cyclocross race last Sunday.
Some have hinted that putting a touring bike to cyclocross duty was foul mistreatment. I deny it! Cyclocross has long been a fun break from the routine for touring and racing bikes. Before there were many 'cross bikes -- back when my Trek was young -- everybody just stripped off rack, fenders, kickstand and swapped in some knobby tires and went at it. Or they took their race bike and changed tires. Anything goes in 'cross. And bikes LIKE IT.
I've used my old Trek for every kind of bike duty. How many incarnations has it had? Whew! It's been a Crit bike. A commuter. A trail bike with full suspension! (Shockpost and flexstem.) A daily errander pulling a trailer. A fast club rider amid carbon flyweights. A countrybike. It's been shod with tires from 20mm sewups to 30mm CX sewups to 38mm dirt-roaders. It fit 700c's and 27-inchers equally well (not much difference there but some bikes are fussy). Racks, fenders, kickstand. It's been a 19-lb fixie with bullhorns! A singlespeed! ...A light and lively allrounder, that's what it was!
I once did extensive test-riding and comparing of an Atala Tour de France racer, a Paramount, my old Pro Miyata, a red RB1, a Trek 736 racer, and the All-rounder Trek...and the old All-Rounder held its own perfectly! I liked its ride as well as any of them, yet it was so much more versatile, thanks to its tire clearance and those handy eyelets. (OK, sure, the race bikes were a bit livelier and more thrilling, but with fast wheels the red Trek was fast and sweet...and still a haulin' mule.)
Yeah, fast wheels turned it into a stealth weapon for both road and trail. ...Not many C-racers in the 'cross world are running handmade sewups! Lots of free speed and free places, there. And such a nice feel! Makes you want to ride it!
Also, I'd only carry a half bottle of water and, when training with the dudes, a tiny spares-kit. Unless you go out for over 3 hours, or it's over 85F/85% there's no need for much water, I find. Yet for a 1.5-hr ride the dudes will carry 2 big full potion bottles, putting me 2 pounds to the better compared to them. And I don't wear as many clothes. When it's sunny 50-60F I happily wear shorts and shortsleeves, saving a pound compared to my bundled-up peers. Lastly, when I can just stay skinny, that's some extra fun in hand. All these things help bring my old rides up to par with quite a few of the carbon folks.
Word is that it had medium-low trail for low fork flop and lively handling. Yet it had fairly long 44cm chainstays for a steady ride and rear load capacity. It was sprightly enough that it weighed only 23 lbs set up with rack and kickstand. I most liked it with 25mm Michelin Pro Race tires -- with that set-up I could ride fast pavement or dirt roads alike -- and still haul a load in the grocery pans.
So the collapse happened in the last lap of the race. I found myself psyched for a final charge and stoked it good through the spectators. I went into a sharp uphill banked turn rather hot and skidded some. Earlier I'd swooped down a whoopdedoo drop with what seemed like a lot of G-force. A minute after the sharp turn the bike just sagged out. I thought I'd turned my stem, but no...
(Play "Taps" again...)
The noble steed deserves some kind of pyre.
...And I'm right on the prowl for another steel sport-tourer or UJB. I mean, what else could I want?
I figure it'll be new to me. And I'll likely be able to find one that has twice as much life left in it as mine did. No old bike was ridden harder! ...Some have said if I find another like it that it'll be just as old and just as ready to fail. Not! Most bikes have been lightly used -- that's what I'll go for.
And next time I'll spray more Framesaver into the frame-tubes! And plug the water-holes better! (See that rust? It didn't help.)
(Someone suggested an upgrade. To what? I have no budget, for one thing. Dusty cast-off's limit me to...this wonderful kind of bike. But even if I could shop up to as new as 2000, is there an allrounder that would be more impressive? I suppose stronger yet still lively would be good, and lighter, too -- so I could get those specs and with eyelets? Say, I got a frame that was one pound lighter. Maybe it would be really noticeably better. Would it? The only new-era bikes I've ridden have been roadies and mtbikes. They seem fine. Are today's all-rounders equally as improved? If I step back just one decade, are there interesting frames gathering dust in garages, going for a song?)
[UPDATE 10/1: I've decided to build up my old Paramount frame! It's an inch bigger and it didn't seem to like me the last time I rode it but maybe times change. Maybe I was just in too many apples/oranges situations with it. Well, it's the best I got!]
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