I had no way of knowing that this ride was to be the Waltwork’s last rodeo. I knew I had new bikes in the mail, but without tracking numbers, I figured I had at least another half a week of nursing the ailing blue bike around the D-town trails. My brake bleed which I had performed myself had started to fail, the rear wheel creaked like nothing else (after many, many years of hard use), and there were some questionable marks on the carbon handlebars that had appeared after crashing about three hours into the AZT earlier this spring. I’d been holding out hope for new bikes all spring and summer, nursing the blue bike along after Lee had repaired a crack in the frame just prior to AZT.
I’d hated the bike when I first got it. It was my first dual suspension and I had no clue how to ride it. So I didn’t. At least not much. I’d initially built it up with a $50 set of anchors for wheels and lugged it around, hating how sluggish it was with big tires, thinking I’d at least like it on the downhills. For a long time, I couldn’t do it justice on the downhills and while I had been assured heavy wheels would add to the stability of the bike, I couldn’t control it. She rode me far more than I rode her.
I didn’t consider it a race bike, too slow, too inefficient. That was, until I pulled the rookie mistake of letting my bottle cage bolts rattle loose on the hardtail and pulled the bosses straight out of the frame. While the frame was in for repair, I rode the dually. I bikepacked with her. I put some lighter wheels on her. I fell in love.
I rode my second CTR on her. I raced Frog Hollow with her. I took her down to AZ last December and then again in April and then took her through the rocks and chunk of the AZT. For being the black sheep of my Waltworks family for the first half of her life, she put together an amazing second half.
We went out to explore a new trail on the east side of Hermosa Creek last Saturday. I’d grown accustomed to the incessant creak of the rear wheel to the point that I didn’t even notice it any more. What I didn’t cease to notice was how nicely she climbed, how she rolled up chunk and rocks and roots. I noticed how balanced she felt on steep climbs, front wheel staying firmly connected to the ground. On the way down, I noticed the confidence she gave me over rocks and rubble piles. I noticed how I knew exactly how she was going to respond to roots, corners, and ruts.
We rode for six hours, finishing exhausted, dirty, worked over, laying in the parking lot not entirely sure what our names were or what we were doing. We’d seen beautiful vistas, explored seemingly forgotten trail, and reveled in the beauty of the day…and eaten Swiss Cake Rolls that Kurt and Caroline had left us a week prior.
And when we rolled up to the house late in the evening, there was a big brown box waiting on the stoop. A box with a new pony. A new pony waiting to be taken on adventures, to see the world, to go zoom.
When I unloaded the blue pony from the car to take the pedals off to put on the new pony, I felt like I was betraying her. She’d proved herself over the course of the day. She could do everything I asked of her. She wasn’t ready to retire yet. She may be creaky and her joints may need a little love, but she was still a wild pony.
I told her it was okay. She was going out on top. And that she didn’t have to worry, she was going to get to keep all of her parts and she’d be going on plenty of adventures of the commuting variety, which is really where race ponies deserve to spend their retirement years. She was well loved, well ridden, and had done me proud. She’d done more than most ponies could ever hope for and done it well.