One of the key players from my “new” life in Alaska as a home owner has been largely absent these past two years. It is something that sparks my soul and makes precious life even more so. It is something to maintain a youthful and vibrant self and outlook. It is spontaneity. Seems these last many, many months, every move in my life needs to be planned, calculated, examined, and inspected, largely taking any playfulness out of it. Spontaneity is what makes trips and adventures youthful and fun.

Spontaneity is what I crave. Adventure is what I crave.

I wake up Monday morning, 4 days before my planned departure date for my two week bike ride into the Yukon. I am not feeling it; I want to go now. I dress for work as usual, but hope that my employer Dave and the rest of the crew will see fit to set me free upon myself so I may leave right away. Everyone at work gives me the thumbs up, wishes me well, and I drive home casually with a grin on my face to pack the bike, smoke some Salmon, shop for supplies, and relax a bit.

The next morning I awake and am totally ready: everything is in order, Angela is coming by at 8 for some coffee and I will hit the road. It is raining a bit, but hey, it’s Alaska in the summer, that’s what is does here! I’ll be out of range for the next couple of weeks; when I return, I’ll do a full write up and photo share here on JRB.

Stay tuned!!

1983 Specialized Stump Jumper

'83 StumpJumper

In 1983, I lusted over the new Specialized StumpJumper mountain bikes that were out. A friend had one of the awesome Miyata MTB’s that I test rode and fell in love with; I had never before seen or experienced such a bicycle. When I discovered the Specialized, I had to have one. Mowing lawns alone was not enough for the cost of entry to possess one of these amazing machines, and, at the summer’s end, dreadfully short of the necessary cash, my folks came to the rescue, and the StumpJumper was purchased and my life forever changed. The combination of living in one of the worst bicycle theft areas in the country, along with being a clueless teenager, the machine did not last too long; it was stolen within 6 months and that was that.

Since that time, even as an adult, I have secretly wanted that bike back, and have always kept one eye on the lookout for such machinery. One fine day, John Boyer, from Edible Pedal bike shop, brought in a couple of truck loads of frame, wheels, and parts from a bulk purchase he had made, and in said pile lived two 1983 Specialized StumJumper frames, both in various states of build and/or disrepair. They appeared to be a his and hers matching set; one in 20″, the other in 16″. I quickly snatched up the 20″ from John, and began then acquisition process of accumulating the parts for a build. I decided to build this on the cheap and without too much concern for an attempt at building the bike to it’s original state, or, for that matter, with matching parts even. Some might consider this behavior blasphemous, but not I; I simply wanted a solid, functional, and attractive alternative adventure tourer… Which is exactly what I got.

'83 StumpJumper_12 '83 StumpJumper_11 '83 StumpJumper_10 '83 StumpJumper_9 '83 StumpJumper_8 '83 StumpJumper_7 '83 StumpJumper_6 '83 StumpJumper_5 '83 StumpJumper_4 '83 StumpJumper_3 '83 StumpJumper_2 '83 StumpJumper_1

A Life of Bikes

Other than Trikes and kiddie cycles, my first bike was a Redline BMX bike that I built myself.  It was 1977, I was 10 years old, and BMX was big.  I spent months gathering parts for this machine by any means necessary.  Ultimately, I honestly don’t remember what happened to this apparatus.  My next bike, if memory serves me, was a 70’s Peugeot road bike in the classic red color that seemed so popular back then. It sported Simplex derailleurs, Maillard hubs, and Mafac brakes. Honestly, I never really liked the bike all that much, but still, it was a bike, and A bike is better than NO bike.

Sometime later, there was a Schwinn Le Tour..  This machine was really something I revered. I loved that bike. It was a heavy tank of a vehicle, as all sub 500 dollar units were, but I had big ideas about riding this thing very far.  Eventually it was stolen.

Le Tour
Again, this one wasn’t mine, but it looked just like this puppy…

Then there were a couple of Sears and Montomery Wards “bicycles”; These babies were cheap transportation to high school, but that’s about it.  Luckily, they too were stolen.

During High School, I had a circuit of lawn mowing customers throughout the neighborhood. One summer, I mowed and mowed and mowed. I had recently ridden a friends Miyata MTB and fell in love with this new kind of bicycle. This was 1982 or 83.  I decided that I wanted the game changing 1984 Specialized Stumpjumper.  By the time school started again in the fall, I had half of what I needed. My mother, bless her heart, covered the rest.

'84 StumpJumper
This one’s not mine, but it was just like…

To me, the Stumpjumper was the ultimate; it had some of shimano’s best ever offerings in the original Deore line up, plus those great looking Specialized cranks and hubs that really were a testament to how great these parts were during that time period.  Alas, that bike too was stolen, and though I did not I give up on bicycles, I  focused my energy all the way on rock climbing and mountaineering, which, in turn, pretty much consumed me for the next 25 years.

A couple years out of high school, I moved to Washington D.C. to pursue a romantic relationship with Judy Paddon.  I became a bicycle courier in the D.C. metro, and my weapon of choice was a GT Karakoram. The GT was a good bike, and it became even better as I wore the thing out pedaling it  300 miles a week, and upgrading parts as they went.

Misc. Bicycle-6
The GT Karakoram, Slickrock, 1990

After moving to Moab in February 1990, it was all mountain bikes, everything from The fantastic Bianchi Grizzly (AKA The Green Bastard) to the more advanced, fully suspended, long travel, All Mountain, Freeride, and Downhill bikes of modern times..

..But that is another story all together.

The Green Bastard stops for lunch
The Griz in action