Bikes are fun. Ride a fun bike. Tom’s Moots Vamoots RSL
We all ride for our own personal reasons. As time shifts, our approaches and attitudes towards riding change. Sometimes I ride with the intention of increasing fitness. Sometimes I ride with the intention of pushing my body to the very limits; not for fitness, but just because I enjoy it and find an aspect of beauty in that suffering. Sometimes I ride with the intention of just finding some solitude. Regardless, riding will always be something I do, and it will always be an important facet of my life. Like any serious relationship, there will be ups and downs, and purposeful maintenance takes practice and time, but we work hard at keeping this relationship because for whatever our personal reasons, it is worth it. For me, cycling has been my crutch - an old friend who you can always depend on during times of need.
In college, I had a professor named Jason who raced on the domestic elite team, Locos Cycling Team. Jason taught a negotiations class, and the long term project was the class negotiating a contract between Tom Boonen and Quickstep. I loved it. The rest of the class? Not so much. Locos was more or less a farm team for the old Jittery Joe's pro team. At the time, the team was sponsored by Litespeed, and therefore, Jason rode a Litespeed ti frame. We’d often ride after class and I got pretty familiar with looking at the back of it. At the time I rode a Tarmac Pro, but I loved the matte look of his titanium frame. It was simple and sometimes, simplicity is beautiful. Over time, Jason introduced me to racing, training, and the general lifestyle a bike racer tends to live. We did all the base miles, drank all the coffee, traveled to races together, and once, while on a ride, we even found an abandoned case of beer in the middle of panhandle Florida - which we drank, for hydration of course. As a 20 year old athlete, I envisioned myself being him in the future. Racing for a domestic elite team, teaching college classes; that was my dream. So in step, I began to long for a ti bike like Jason's. In my eyes he was the epitome of cool and I wanted what he had.
When I graduated from undergrad and moved back home, I started doing some of the local group rides. A family friend, Mark McGarry, was, or rather is, a crusher down there. (Example: He would ride with Erik Zabel whenever he was in town for the holiday.) Mark was fast, and he also rode a ti bike. Specifically, he rode a Moots with a Campy Record groupset from the early 90s. He had to make custom spacers so that he could still ride with 9 speeds. In fact, Mark still rides this bike and it looks just as gorgeous as it did over a decade ago. I spoke with him about his Moots the last time I was down in Florida. He’s still making custom spacers and his Campy Record groupset still looks immaculate. But, what really grabbed my attention is the way he gushes over his Moots. This is a 60 year old man who still smiles everytime he swings his legs over his bike, who still catches himself just looking at it while it hangs in his garage. He’s felt this way ever since he first got the bike, and this is 13 years after having purchased the frame. This is true bike longevity. That is true bike love. I was in awe of his awe of his Moots. I enjoy riding, but I’ve never felt such an emotional connection with a bike. I always thought of my bikes as tools. If they look great while serving my purpose; dope. But, it’s not something I ever ruminate over.
When I started racing more seriously, ti began to slip my mind. It wasn’t the lightest, stiffest, or the most aero. If you were serious about your racing, you chose carbon. So, like all the other aspiring racers, I rode carbon. First a couple of Tarmacs, then a Garneau, then an Evo Hi Mod; all great bikes. I also envisioned myself as being a climber, so I wanted the lightest bike possible. I was a weightweenie all the way. I’d count grams and pay an extra $100 just to save 40 grams. (For real life reference, that’s less than the weight of those 2 bananas in your jersey pocket, which cost $.50 - $2.50 depending on which NYC corner your local fruit stand occupies or if your local fruit stand is a Starbucks.) Meanwhile, it didn’t occur to me that the only climb we really see in NYC racing is Harlem Hill. I’m sure that -40 grams really helped me out there.
This year, our team had the opportunity to partner up with Moots, and the nostalgia from my first few years riding with Jason and my conversations with Mark began creeping in. I had a moment of self reflection and realized that over the years my racing has more or less evolved to being an excuse for me to simply ride more. I don’t actually care about having the lightest or most aero bike. I don’t think a half a pound as ever cost or earned me a placing at a local CRCA race, nor, at least this year, do I really care about where I finish in a CRCA race. I’m more concerned about other numbers now. “This race I was in the break and worked hard. Didn’t have enough in the end for a sprint. But fun factor was 10/10.” If I want longevity in this relationship, sometimes investing in fun factor numbers are more important than a podium.
So what do I really value when it comes to choosing the right bike? Like in years past where I bought bikes to fit a mold that I believed I fit into (i.e. I want to be a climber, ergo I will purchase a light bike), I felt I should buy a bike to match my new sentiment (i.e. - I want to maximize fun, ergo I will buy a fun bike). In my eyes, the Moots does this for me, and it does it perfectly. I ride a shit ton more, and I find myself looking at it more. It’s hard to describe, but with the Moots I feel more connected with the road. I feel the vibrations of the road and rail corners with greater confidence. I go faster, and when I glance down through my legs while I’m pedaling; I smile. I love this bike because it fits me. It fits my body, it fits my reason for riding, and it fits my aesthetic. It’s a rider’s bike. I can thrash it and it comes out unfazed. I can race it, and it keeps me where I want to be. And when I fire up TrainingPeaks and see that I have an hour recovery spin, I actually do it.
Riding my Moots makes me feel a new fidelity. It is like spandex that I can actually fit in comfortably, confidently, and continually (and spandex stretches, but we all know that it still has its limitations). It makes me realize that cycling was never just an old friend, but oddly more like a socially acceptable paramour. I feel no jealousy of other riders; no nostalgia for bikes past. I look forward to enjoying new rides on old roads and new rides on new roads alike for a long time to come. No one feels cheated. It’s the investment that I didn’t make until my 30s because I needed my 20s to figure it out. I mean, aren’t relationships better when you’re in one with one you actually love? And also, is there really always money in the banana stand?