In Praise Of My Back-Up Ride

There was a time when you were my one and only. The day I brought you home from the Sherman Oaks bike store on Ventura Boulevard in February of 2002, you forever changed my previous stubborn belief that a mountain bike was all I would ever need to get around. You were lighter, far more agile and maneuverable. And tough? Dang, you were. From that point forward you and I went everywhere.

Then came late 2005 and my venture into the single-speed realm of abandoned bike resurrection, and I hung you and your 24-speeds up in the garage like an old shirt in a closet. Sure, I’ve called on you from time to time, but not out of nostalgia so much as mostly when some sort of malfunction befell, such as the last time I rode you in January in the several days that spanned between the frame of my beloved The Phoenix fatally cracking and the arrival of its replacement, recently dubbed Le Noir.

On one of those days we were forced to ride home in a gusty deluge that left both of us drenched and dirt-encrusted and some readers questioning my sanity. I didn’t even give you the courtesy of wiping you off when I hung you back up on the garage rack. And there you sat being an anchor for webs of several generations of daddy longlegs, while Le Noir and I rolled out some 3,500 miles.

Well, last night while working on getting her some new handlebars, brake levers and tires I discovered that with the configuration of the new bars, her existing rear brake cable/housing was coming up about a foot short, and there’s simply nothing that can be done about that except to buy some new cable and housing.

So out you came this morning, to my embarrassment and self-disdain still caked with the road junk and long-fossilized grime that I left on you six months ago — and in need of some brake tweaking as I’d borrowed yours for Le Noir and only returned them to you this past weekend.

After apologizing to you profusely while getting you road-ready I outfitted you with Le Noir’s light set and took a cloth and cleanser to you out there on the porch, removing the layers of gunk that stuck to you like barnacles to a ship’s hull:

And you look grand my deserving and trusty friend. Even better: you got me to work safely this morning as if it had been only one day and not 180-plus since our last trek.

You are a remarkable machine my six-year-old entry-level Giant OCR-3. We’ve shared thousands upon thousands of miles on all manner of roads and conditions across town and the state, but other than chains, tires, innertubes, and an occasional worn out seat or spoke you’re still sporting your original drivetrain and components and everything works as well today as it did when I brought you home and you forever changed my perception about what a good road bike is and can do.

You continue to do so.

Published by


Will Campbell arrived in town via the maternity ward at Good Sam Hospital way back in OneNineSixFour and has never stopped calling Los Angeles home. Presently he lives in Silver Lake with his wife Susan, their cat Rocky, dogs Terra and Hazel, and a red-eared slider turtle named Mater. Blogging since 2001, Will's web endeavors extend back to 1995 with, a comprehensive theater site that was well received but ever-short on capital (or a business model). The pinnacle of his online success (which speaks volumes) arrived in 1997, when much to his surprise, a hobby site he'd built called VisuaL.A. was named "best website" in Los Angeles magazine's annual "Best of L.A." issue. He enjoys experiencing (and writing about) pretty much anything creative, explorational and/or adventurous, loves his ebike, is a better tennis player than he is horr golfer, and a lover of all creatures great and small -- emphasis on "all."