road biking

Beartooth Pass

DSCN2188I'm as guilty as anyone when it comes to buying into the consumptive, materialistic lifestyle we Americans lead. As a bike mechanic and salesperson, its kind of my job to know the latest and greatest gadget, and sell it to you. I'm sure I'm not the only one out there jonesing pretty hard for the new Shimano XT 11 speed drive-train. But there is something I admire more than showing off that shiny new whatever. And that is making do with what you have. Anyone who has visited northwest Wyoming, knows we have some seriously beautiful country. Most folks experience it through the windshield while driving one of our mountain passes. Many of these roads are closed in the winter, plowed in April/May, and open to traffic soon after. There is a magical time between the grinding of the snowplows and the opening of the gates when the roads are only open to human powered travel. This is the time to see them by bike!

The Beartooth Highway leaves Red Lodge, MT following Rock Creek, a tumultuous mountain stream strewn with rounded boulders, a result of eons of erosion. Twelve miles out of town, a gate blocks spring traffic and the climb commences. It's another 11 miles to reach the Beartooth Plateau, and the first slackening of grade. Although daunting by looks, the road is a pleasant climb, never reaching a critically steep pitch. The length of the ride is determined upon how far MTD has plowed the road. This weekend, we made it 10 miles past the first gate. Rock slides, snow, and gravel are strewn along the entire road, requiring vigilance on the cruise back down.

Working in bike shops for the past 15 years, I've always been concerned with the latest and greatest in the bike world. When I first got into the sport, I often judged a rider's skills by what components he had on his bike. Sometimes I would laugh and point at someone riding a dated bike on the trail. "Dude, get with the times!" What impressed me was seeing the latest XTR component on a clean, new frame. While I still geek out over the new shiny things, I've had a bit of a change in heart. No longer do I laugh and point. Now, admiration abounds for those riding a ridged 90's something cantilever wreck on the Boise foothills trails rather than the kit-clad cash droppers to often grouping up on trail rides after work. And while I seriously worry about the safety of a Wall-Mart Next pedaling youth, I smile, and realize they are riding a bike, and what can get better than that.

With these sentiments in mind, let me introduce you to the 1989 (Gary) Fisher Celerity. I picked up this rosy gem in Moscow, ID while attending the University of Idaho, and wrenching at Paradise Creek Bicycles. Since then, it has served as my daily commuter, errand runner, make-due-road bike, and has never let me down. Something that has always drawn me to bicycles, if not the ONE thing, is how efficient, effective, and perfect they can perform when well cared for. I get more satisfaction from resurrecting a two wheeled relic then assembling the latest Di2 electronic shifting road bike. Such is the case with this bike. Made up of a conglomeration of dated components, this bike works flawlessly.

Reaching for the Celerity was a no brainer when heading out for the Beartooth ride. The simplicity of throwing a leg over a bike and pedaling.  No fancy lycra, color matched riding kits, or power meter cranks. Don't let consumerism make you believe these things are necessary to enjoy cycling. Dust off that old bike, bring it to your local bike shop for a tune up, and get on your bike and ride!

The Celerity in its natural habitat.

Threading the thaw