I was on a short backpacking trip with my wife and some visiting college friends on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. We were connecting Resurrection Pass from Hope, down to Devil's Pass, and spent 3 days covering the 35 or so miles. I lost count on day one of all the bikers and bikepackers flying by us both up and down the trail and, for the first time in my life, thought to myself why am I walking this trail?!
Over a decade prior I was borrowing a friend’s severely dilapidated bike for my short commute to Ultimate Frisbee practice when the rear brakes cut out on a steep hill. Further complicated by the fact that the front brakes already didn’t work, I awoke in the hospital with a concussion, a partially detached ear lobe, and a striking resemblance to Batman's Two Face.
No, I wasn’t wearing a helmet. “It was a short ride, mostly through a college campus,” I had told myself. I was young, dumb, and remain thankful to have gotten away with relatively few longterm consequences for such a stupid decision. Possibly the largest of the consequences was that I had decided I wasn’t a bike-person and entirely stopped riding bikes.
Fast forward a dozen-plus years and an extremely unfortunate case of shingles, and my poor (now much older) body is struggling to rock climb, or even go on easy hikes. A few of my friends were biking around town, and on a whim I woke up, checked craigslist, and bought a 1970s Japanese Takara for $50. I went on a ride, realized I didn’t understand what down-tube shifters were, or how they worked, and remembered how much fun bikes were.