75,000 Miles, 3 Bikes

I keep track of things. I have been recording my running and cycling miles for 30 odd years. It started with running. I would log my daily miles. Then I added a note to indicate which shoes I was wearing. I did this because running shoes wear out from the midsoles first. It’s the midsoles that cushion your feet.

For some reason I didn’t do this sort of thing with my rides. For a long time I didn’t have a car so I used my trusty old Raleigh Grand Prix. It was a faithful steed, until the front right fork blade fell off on hill on the Custis Trail near Rosslyn, Va. It had shifters that were no longer manufactured and eventually I had to part ways with it. I did get 13 years out of that bike, abusing the heck out of it riding around Providence in the winter time.

I bought a Trek 1200 and used it more for running. I had hurt my knees and I needed to find a replacement for running between 50 and 70 miles per week. I’d get home and ride my ass off or, in the winter, put it on a wind trainer indoors and ride until pools of sweat accumulated. A few years after I bought it, I ruptured a disk in my back. After my surgery, I could feel every bump in the road when I rode the Trek. It was also pretty useless for commuting.

Between the two bikes, I guess I put on 15,-000 miles. I have no way of telling though. Back then I probably ran more than I rode.

So I bought a Specialized Sequoia around 20 years ago. It’s had many names but lately I am calling it The Mule. It’s original odometer died. I didn’t know you could re-enter the old mileage, but I had over 6,000 miles on it. Since then The Mule had carried me over 34,450 miles.

I was beating The Mule up by riding it in all kinds of weather so I needed a back up. Eleven years ago I bought my Easy Racers Tour Easy recumbent. I rode Big Nellie almost exclusively for 6 or 7 years, including many winter nights on my wind trainer. As of today, it has 34,350 miles on it.

About six years ago, I bought Little Nellie, my Bike Friday New World Tourist. It’s a folding travel bike. Although I spec’ed it to have the same geometry as The Mule, it’s little wheels make it hard on my back. Pain be damned it now has 10,200 miles on it.

Add them up. Sometime on Saturday or Sunday, I broke 75,000 miles on my three bikes. I really wish now that I had kept track of the miles on the Trek and the Raleigh. I sound a little like Mickey Mantle in his dying days when he said, “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”

Bikes don’t last forever. Pretty soon I will have to figure out what to replace my fleet with. Buying cars is pretty easy. I’ve been buying cars since 1978. VW Golf, Saturn Wagon, Mazda MPV, Mitsubishi Lancer, and three Honda Accords. What I’ve learned is that when I need a new car, I’ll buy an Accord. Repeat every 10-13 years. (I’m good until 2010.)

Buying bikes is hard. I’ve never owned a mountain bike. Or a touring bike with 26 inch wheels. Or a short wheel base recumbent. Or a tadpole trike. Which one do I want? The answer, of course, is “Yes.”

If I’m going to ride another 75,000 miles, I’d better get to the bike shop and start test riding. Something tells me my three steeds will die from exhaustion before I do.


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