Spoke Talk: 5 bikes, and none of them dispensable

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Amy Kopischke

They say the first step to overcoming a problem is admitting that you have one.

I have a problem.

I own five bikes.

I can’t help it — I really like to ride. But there comes a point where one goes a bit overboard, and I’ve begun to wonder if five bikes was that point for me. Storing them can be a chore in of itself, not to mention the upkeep — making sure they shift well and the drivetrains are clean, the tires and brake pads are in good condition, and the suspension parts are clean and running smoothly.

Last spring I started to think about how I could thin the fleet. There are definitely bikes whose strengths overlap with other bikes, so why not consolidate down to four? But which bike would go?

■ My first bike is a classic — the road bike. The road bike is a beautiful piece of machinery, and there is no substitute for the feeling of the wind on your face as you pedal those big, slick wheels across miles of rolling Routt County landscape.

■ Next up is the mountain bike, also a classic. With modern suspension and geometry, today’s mountain bikes are lightweight and efficient — the Swiss Army knives of bikes. Besides the many trips I have made up and over Emerald Mountain on this bike, it is the bike to take on any long ride. It’s a no-brainer keeper.

■ The third bike is my dirt bike. While some may not consider this with other bikes, I certainly do. Mine is set up as a trail bike with 12 inches of suspension travel, a very quiet muffler and grippy trail tires. Even though I have to travel a lot farther to ride this one than any other bike, I can easily carve out 60 or even 100 miles of singletrack in a day — sheer two-wheeled bliss.

■ Fourth is my singlespeed. I put this together on a shoestring budget to see if I could even enjoy one here in Routt County, where if you’re not going up, you’re going down. But you’re probably going up. Darn it, the sheer simplicity of the bike — and the anaerobic state you ride in because you’re usually in the “wrong” gear — is pure fun and very addictive. It’s my newest classic.

■ Last in line and possibly closest to the cut is my Santa Cruz Bullit downhill bike. This is an old-school freeride bike with barely more travel than my mountain bike, and possibly twice the weight. I can hardly pedal it uphill, much less get off and push the heavy pig. But oh the giggles once she gets moving. Fun at the pump park, our newly remade BMX track and especially good to ride now that we are getting more lift-accessed trails at the ski area. This old girl stays firmly rooted in the keeping pile, too.

Now you see my problem.

Not willing to let go of a single one, I had to come up with a challenge to redeem my situation. Would anyone think of getting rid of something that they use on a weekly basis? Of course not. So I decided that for the month of July I would keep a journal to make sure I rode each of my bikes at least once a week.

The easy choice for any ride is the mountain bike, but if I feel mellow or need some recovery, the road bike is there to help. Only have an hour? Grab the Bullit and do laps at the pump park or BMX track. It’s the weekend? Cruise up to North Routt with the dirt bike. Ready for a real grind? There’s the singlespeed.

I was diligent about my chore and recorded everything — even my frustration at the rain having the nerve to try to interrupt my schedule. But I did it. I rode them all at least once per week despite life obligations and uncooperative weather. The biggest surprise at the end of the month was that the bike with the most rides was the singlespeed and the one with the least was the dirt bike.

Last July was a big month for me and my fleet of bikes. It was a big challenge and a lot of riding. But mostly it was fun.

And I decided to keep all of my bikes.

Amy Kopischke lives in Steamboat with her husband and her five bikes. Her writing also can be found in Steamboat Magazine and the Steamboat Straight Talk blog.

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