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  1. #1
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    If you love something set it free.......passion

    So i've been thinking about typing a thread up about one of my bikes for a while. I was about to post a couple photos in the "Hardtail XC photo" thread, then I figured some people might enjoy a little nostalgic writeup. ..I'm long winded..so bear with me. I will have to leave out some details to prevent a full on novel...

    Like a lot of people, my family didn't have a lot of money growing up, and my first bikes were hand-me-downs. My parents got divorced when I was 9 and I ended up moving with my dad to a small town in Maine. Sometime in 1990 I found a Nashbar catalog at the dump's recycling center..I wanted so bad to have one of the bikes in it. When my birthday came around, I ended up getting a MAGNA brand 10speed "mountain" bike...I was a little bummed, but it was better than nothing.

    4 years later and I still had the same bike. For a couple years we had no place to store the MAGNA, and it sat outside all year long...Rust everywhere..Chain, cables, crank, pedals, spokes,,you name it...The local bike shop said they wouldn't replace anything because it would exceed the value of the bike....I think the quote went something like this "this bike is a piece of crap, just save up to get a real bike". I worked a summer "job" cleaning a fishing boat each afternoon, and generally made about $20-30 a week, but I bought my own school clothes and shoes, so the money didn't go far towards a new bike.

    Life in general sucked for me at that point, and finally I reached my breaking point...I don't remember what went wrong with the bike, but I lost it. I slammed the bike against a tree, then on the ground. I took all of my anger/sadness out on the bike, then threw it in the back of the storage shed for the apartment building where we lived. That was the last time I saw it. My dad never said anything to me about it, I guess he realized it wasn't just the bike bothering me.

    My dad and step-mom had been in a bad car accident three years before and in the summer of '94 they got an insurance payment from it...It wasn't a whole lot, but it meant we could finally move out of the shitty apartment we lived in. I was pretty stoked. Out of the blue my dad took me over to a bike shop near our house. I wasn't exactly sure what was going on..He pointed to a blue-green Diamondback Topanga...and said "How about this one?"...Wait..You mean for me? "Yep" I couldn't believe it..I was getting a real mountain bike. The bike was already built so we left new bike in hand. What an awesome day.

    For the next 3 years I lived on that bike. Since I had no license, I rode it everywhere. I got into riding with a local bike shop, met some really nice people and even did a few NORBA races. I was old enough for a real summer job and started to upgrade the bike. Flash forward a few years....I had graduated from school, moved to another state and wasn't riding the bike much at that point. My younger brothers' bike had been stolen and so I offered to sell him my bike. After a few months he decided he didn't have the money and said that his friend wanted to buy it. It felt weird, but I needed to money to fix my car, so I said yes. That was 1998.

    Throughout the years, some of my friends had tried getting me back into riding, but it wasn't happening. In October 2009, I decided after over a decade off, to buy a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR. A friend of mine that I went to high school with just so happens to live close to me here on Cape Cod, and he still rides bikes. He stopped by to check it out and we ended up reminiscing about riding. "I wonder what happened to our first mountain bikes?" came up I told him about the last time I saw my bike. After that talk it got me thinking...How cool would it be to get that bike back?

    Through the magic of the internet, I got in touch with my brother's friend and sure enough the bike had been sitting in a shed for a decade unused. He said "Do you want it? It's all yours!" I couldn't believe it. I was dying to see the bike in person, and a friend of mine just happened to be up in Maine and picked the bike up. He brought it to the house and it was like a time capsule. When I first saw it, it brought back so many awesome memories. The bike was weathered, all the cables frozen, and tires dry rotted....Besides that it was 99% the same as the last day that I saw it.








    The first thing I did was tear the bike down so that I could inspect the frame. It held up quite well over the years, so it was rebuild time. I wanted to build it (within reason) the way that I could never afford as a teen, with top of the line parts. I decided to make it a singlespeed. I spent a couple months looking for new/used parts and got the bike all together. One it was done...only one thing left to do..RIDE IT! So I did. And it was awesome.




    After running it as a singlespeed for a year I ended up finding a Surly 1x1 on craigslist and couldn't resist buying it...So now what to do with the Diamondback? I didn't take me long and I decided it was going to be a 1x9. I sold a couple items off the bike and made some changes. Last night I got the last part and and finished the re-rebuild.





    Here's the shitty part of my story. In 2005, my dad died from a short battle with lung cancer. Looking at the bike will always be special for me, but it's a bittersweet feeling. I would love to share the story with my dad of how I got it back and what I did with it. I can't do that, so I'll share it with you.

    I love this bike, and I will ride it until I can no longer ride, or it can no longer be ridden.

    This bike is what started my passion in 1994, and it keeps it alive in 2011.

    -Gabe
    Last edited by Gabriel J; 05-11-2011 at 04:53 PM.

  2. #2
    It's soil, not dirt!
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    Thanks man. That was a great story and I truly enjoyed reading it.

    Definitely bittersweet, but very touching. Glad you got to keep your bike alive and through it, memories of your father.

  3. #3
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    Great Story

    Hold on to that bike, maybe some day your son will be able to get as much out of it as you have.


  4. #4
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    That Diamondback doesn't just ride the trails, you ride the path of life with it.

  5. #5
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    Great Story!
    Some of my happiest memories in life took place on my bicycles. - Me

  6. #6
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    I loved reading this post. Now that is real passion! I have a 1998 Gary Fisher Kaitai that has many memories along with it and is the only bike I have at this time. I too could never give the bike up. Thanks again for the post!

  7. #7
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    Great read. Thanks for sharing. You've inspired me to get my old GT Karakoram down from the rafters in my garage and give it some love.
    I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth...
    Isaiah 58:14

    www.stuckinthespokes.com

  8. #8
    how heavy are you ??
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    Amazing story!
    What does Marsellus Wallace look like, A BIT*H?

  9. #9
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    Great story! Love the bike too - looks great the way you've set it up!

  10. #10
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    Good job writing that up, very interesting read.

  11. #11
    Killer of Chains
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    I have a very similar story with a 91 Marin Team

  12. #12
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    Fantastic...that is true passion, enjoy!
    MTBR Posting Guidelines
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  13. #13
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    Awesome story! Thanks for sharing!

  14. #14
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    Awesome story.

    I wish I still had my Bridgestone MB4 which was my first decent mtb

  15. #15
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    Awsome story....thank you for that.

    sorry to hear about your dad .. but on the lighter side might i say. that bike is sick now!

    nice post
    i used to be a hot tar roofer, ya i remember that......day.

  16. #16
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    ride on, Gabe.

  17. #17
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    wow, one of the best posts ive seen in a while i'm glad i checked mtbr today.
    Quote Originally Posted by craftworks750
    Riding a mtb is like a reset button, 10 mins in and there is nothing else in the world that matters.
    my bikes
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    Ben

  18. #18
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    Yeah, very inspirational post. It's a really neat looking bike, not only in that it's vintage, but that it still looks really capable!

    Congrats man.

  19. #19
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    Great read. Thanks for sharing!

  20. #20
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    I'm glad you guys enjoyed reading the post...I rode the bike today for the first time as a 1x9, and it was sweet.

    I added a couple more photos of the bike when I got it back so you get a little better idea of the shape it was in.

    -Gabe

  21. #21
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    great post and great job with the bike.

    hopefully one of the frames i have now will be rebuilt by my future kids when they want to ride.

    Made my day.

    -It's time to shred some mild to moderate gnar!!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by insanitylevel9
    wow, one of the best posts ive seen in a while i'm glad i checked mtbr today.
    Second that.

    Awesome, you chose your bike well. Those earlier Diamond Backs are bombproof. I'm still riding a '93 Axis.

    Nice restomod too, and a really good story behind the bike.
    Alex

  23. #23
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    awesome story
    .....

  24. #24
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    Great job man. Thank you for sharing!

    Another testament to the emotional ties we all have to bikes and our time riding them.

  25. #25
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    Thanks for the story. Touching to think about all our parents do for us, all the selfless sacrifices that are made. Next time you ride it, don't be shy about enjoying every second, and stop and smell the roses while you are at it. Every pedal stroke sends a prayer up to your father and every breath you take gives thanks to God that you are alive to enjoy the day. Also, we all need to remember that kid out there that doesn't have the funds for a new ride, but would live on a good bike and ride it everywhere, or even do a few NORBA races (who knows). Now that I think about it, I got a few bikes on the shelf that I need to find a rider for....

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pimpride
    Also, we all need to remember that kid out there that doesn't have the funds for a new ride, but would live on a good bike and ride it everywhere, or even do a few NORBA races (who knows). Now that I think about it, I got a few bikes on the shelf that I need to find a rider for....
    I was thinking the same thing - I've got a rockhopper in the garage I haven't ridden in years that some kid would love and ride the heck out of!

  27. #27
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    Sweet story man!!

  28. #28
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    Best story I've ever read on this site. Well done and thanks so much for sharing.

  29. #29
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    Life in general sucked for me at that point, and finally I reached my breaking point...I don't remember what went wrong with the bike, but I lost it. I slammed the bike against a tree, then on the ground. I took all of my anger/sadness out on the bike, then threw it in the back of the storage shed for the apartment building where we lived. That was the last time I saw it.

    I think I saw that movie

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KBaB_Jc_mk


    Just kidding. Cool story. I wish I could find my 85 Schwinn High Sierra.
    Ripping trails and tipping ales

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by insanitylevel9
    wow, one of the best posts ive seen in a while i'm glad i checked mtbr today.
    +1. It's so refreshing to read real passion. Thanks for sharing.
    C'mon lets go for a whirl.

  31. #31
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    Great Story about the sentimental value of your bike and how there is really no price you can put on that. I myself have a1992 Specialized Hardrock Ultra that I cannot truly bring myself to part with, as it was my first "real" bike as well, although I have tried half-heartedly to sell it a couple of times in order to raise funds for other bike projects, for some reason it never sells. After reading this story I will never try to sell it ever again.

  32. #32
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    Really good story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vader
    Life in general sucked for me at that point, and finally I reached my breaking point...I don't remember what went wrong with the bike, but I lost it. I slammed the bike against a tree, then on the ground. I took all of my anger/sadness out on the bike, then threw it in the back of the storage shed for the apartment building where we lived. That was the last time I saw it.

    I think I saw that movie

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KBaB_Jc_mk


    Just kidding. Cool story. I wish I could find my 85 Schwinn High Sierra.
    That gave me a good laugh! I was yelling something similar, laced with lots of explitives. Maybe like Ralph from a Christmas Story. Unfortunately there was no Mr. Miyagi secretly fixing my bike the next day..When I was finished, there wasn't much left of my MAGNA.

  34. #34
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    That was a great story Gabe!

    I had an experience along the lines of my first real mountain bike too that was like yours. Had pos bikes and rode them till they fell apart, worked my azz off (4 bucks an hour in high school) for my 95 cannondale when i was 15, it was heaven for me. I put thousands of miles on it as a trail rider, transportation etc. I even got jumped and took a few shots to the eye but never lost grip of the bike. When i finally got a new mountain bike in 08 i converted the old bike into a singlespeed and just ride it once in awhile for fun. Everytime i look at that bike i go back into time of the days of my youth spend on that thing and all the fun - I will hold onto it forever. Thanks for bringing back some memories!

  35. #35
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    Damn I miss my 1996 root beer Trek 990, would love to experience rebuilding that bike. Great story, stay strong, ride on.

  36. #36
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    Great and inspiring post Gabe, thanks! I have a Bontrager OR frame in my garage that I keep starting to try and do something similar with. I bought it new as a frame in SLC around '90, built it up as I was traveling around the country then, and used it for several years. It has lasted many races, several moves, a marriage, a bankruptcy where they took my other bikes, and now sits here with me, amongst my other bikes... Time to dust it off again I think!

  37. #37
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    Inspiring read, thanks for sharing! I always like to see older bikes get a facelift.

  38. #38
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    Awesome story! Glad you took the time to share.

  39. #39
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    Thanks for sharing!

  40. #40
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    Thanks for sharing your story!

    I'm running the same manitou fork on the bike I ride now that you have in the first pics of the bike. lol

  41. #41
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    Great story. Glad I spent the time to read it. Fathers day is two days away.

  42. #42
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    Awesome story sir!!!

  43. #43
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    I'm with everyone else! Great story!
    60% of the time ......it works all the time

  44. #44
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    That is a great story. Thanks for sharing it, and nice job on the rebuild.

  45. #45
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    wow. what an awesome story, thank you for sharing!


    and that brings me back a bit. my first...er..."mountain bike" was also a magna. the fork was just springs hahaha

  46. #46
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    I have bought and parted with 2 mountain bikes since 2006. Sometimes, I regret selling my 06 Hardrock as it was my first real mountain bike. A few months ago, I sold my 99 Specialized FSR to my cousin - it was a trusty steed but since I have my AS-X built, I never rode it so I figured he would give it a good home and good riding.

    I don't think I could part with my AS-X though - I actually love that bike. It is the story of my life, I tended to be with big ladies so it was pretty much appropriate that I end up with a big bike! LOL.
    I don't use Strava. Don't need an application to tell me I am slow because I already know.

  47. #47
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    Great story! Reading it, there's so many clear signs of your passion for this sport. The same passion we all share about riding and enjoying our bikes.

    I remembered how biking felt when i was smaller. I could ride around for hours, and some of the most clear memories i have, are from riding bikes. This story brings up a lot of memories. ATM, i'm considering buying back the bike that i started mtb'ng on five years ago - a good old GT Outpost, from the 90's.

    Thanks alot!

  48. #48
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    I'm really stoked that so many people enjoyed reading the story of the bike. It's nice to know that other people share the same nostalgic feelings about inanimate objects, makes me feel less weird.

    Because I can never stop the build on the Topanga, I took a fork I had from another frame and installed it Saturday. Hoping to get out on the bike tomorrow and keep the miles coming.

    -Gabe


  49. #49
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    Freaking nice! That was a great read..............so cool you got that bike back - so very cool. Great way to remember your dad too. It will inspire thoughts and stoke memories whether you're riding it or just looking at it. Very cool indeed.

    I have a bike in my quiver that I too will NEVER part with as well. I tell my wife that unless the kids are starving, it will be with me forever.

    Luckily, she's cool with that and doesn't care :-) It is currently basement "wall art" but does get out on rare occasions

    Thanks for the cool post.
    Here's my crummy, slow-going blog The Slow Spoke if you're interested.

  50. #50
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    Awesome story! This inspires me to rebuild my old Specialized sitting in the garage.

  51. #51
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    Man.....what a great read. Thanks.

  52. #52
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    Awesome story...I really wish everyone that finds it necessary to rag on people for buying less expensive bikes would read this. It really is all about the passion, not the price tag.

    Again great story...

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