There I was, slick and sweet, set up for perfect performance. My titanium YBBeat Superlight frame gleamed in the sales window, and I longed for the chance to go out and do what I was built for – get dirty and ride hard. After an incredibly long wait, or so I thought at the time, I was sold. My new owner and I hit the trails, and I got my wish. We rode high in the Rockies, swooping through fields of wildflowers. We explored Moab slick rock, speeding by sandstone arches.
But some things are too good to last. One dark night, a thief broke into my home and took me away. My XTR components, Moots stem and Moots seat post were stripped and sold, and I was ungratefully imprisoned with another stripped captive, an aluminum S-Works road frame, in the bottom of a lake.
For years we laid there, beyond time and knowledge, losing hope. We were forgotten by all, except the fish that swam through us as a murky playground. Our captivity took a hard toll on the poor old aluminum boy, and he quickly succumbed to the harsh conditions and began to corrode away. The only aluminum left on me, the YBB lockout collar and the headset cups, also began to oxidize. But I never fully lost hope since my skillfully crafted titanium tubes, immaculate welds, and even decals were holding strong.
Many times the water above me froze and thawed and my hope grew cold. My hopes of glory winning the NORBA World Cup or riding San Juan alpine trails were gone. I despaired of ever rolling again. All my dreams were buried with me in the depths of a lake.
As the fish darted past in panic one day, mud and muck stirred up clouding the view. Suddenly, the remains of my poor aluminum companion were lifted out of the lake by what appeared to be a large rusty scoop on a yellow arm. I was left alone in the muck, but dared hope that I might be pulled out of the depths. The yellow arm had the word “Cat” painted on the side, but I didn’t see any resemblance to the large feline that tracked us on the 401 trail in Crested Butte years ago.
My turn came with a painful smash into my down tube. My beautiful, hand-built titanium frame now had a 5 inch long dent in the lower part of my down tube. But I was free! I felt the warm sun and soft air. Some men in yellow hard hats trundled over to see what we were. Much to my delight, the crew leader who found me realized my worth. He cleaned me up a bit, but then hung me in his garage for another, new type of captivity.
I was bored.
I was also worried that I would never roll again – who would be crazy enough to rebuild an old Moots with a huge dent in its down tube? Not the man who found me – he likes fast iron and faster lead. At least he let me stay.Until one day, the man found out his niece just married a bearded man that likes to go for long walks in the mountains carrying (and occasionally riding) a heavy steel bike. Apparently, he was one of those nerdy mechanics who learned the trade the hard way – many miles of riding, necessity, and a patient determination to get the best deal possible. My new Mechanic lovingly cleaned all the mud and grime off me, reveling in my smooth curves and delicious welds. He soaked me in the bath tub for a couple of days (his Lady must not have been too fastidious to let pond water and mud in their tub.) Much to his chagrin, he couldn’t get the last little bit of lake muck out. Now when I’m tipped forward and backward it jingles around inside me. I don’t mind much, as it is a reminder to be grateful that I’m not still in the bottom of a lake!
But once again, I was hung on the wall, sans parts. I heard the young couple talk about “Project Moots” often– they intended to build me up once he had a “real job” over the summer.
The day finally came. My Mechanic spent an evening after work putting on new parts for me. The build was a hodge-podge of highly functional but not too flashy parts. I wouldn’t be the coolest bike on the internet forums, but at least I could roll reliably. The wheels were hand built by my Mechanic, which is a nice touch. The front hub is a gem – an old DT Hugi 28 hole polished silver hub laced 2 cross to a Matrix Swami rim. He put an extra long 130 mm stem on me, and took me for my first ride in many years. It felt so good to feel the wind flow over my tubes and the vibration of the pavement under me. But the long hoped-for ride was soon over.
I was too small.
After all of that, would I not have a job?!?! All I had been through? What would they do with me?
On a whim, my Mechanic suggested that his Lady try me. After her first test ride she said, “You mean riding a bike is not supposed to hurt?” Her old Motobecane commuter bike had a slightly longer top- tube length. I was a much better fit. Graciously, my Mechanic said, “Well, if Project Moots fits you better, we’ll set it up for you. You’re the luckiest mountain bike rider ever to get a Moots upgrade after only a few short mountain bike rides!” He put on a shorter stem and lowered the seat. I fit her even better this time. She was delighted. Despite my dreams of racing and alpine exploration, the dent in my down tube could be a structural problem. My Lady is small, light, and rides delicately. This wouldn’t be as fun, but at least I would have a much smaller chance of breaking in half.
Over the next few weeks my Mechanic changed my parts out for things that fit my Lady better. He cut the handlebars narrower, put on some cool curvy grips, and a really goofy and kind of embarrassing gel seat. Oh well. At least she is comfortable. My favorite part is my custom Cleaveland Mountaineering frame bag. He even sewed a heart onto the pink camo pocket liner with a love note on it. Evidently he really likes her.
And now I’m playing again. My Lady uses me primarily as a commuter bike, and my odometer now reads over 700 miles. On the lucky occasion that we go explore the trails around Grand Junction, I feel free again. She’s definitely a newbie, but is doing her best to learn because she enjoys doing things with her husband. (I like to hope that she also enjoys doing things with her slick bike.) She often comments that I “don’t buck or rear as much as her old bike.” She’s a horse girl, so we won’t pick on her lingo too much.
Mostly I’m grateful to be out in the wind, doing what I was built to do. Even the indignity of a heavy gel seat is worth it when I remember my years in captivity at the bottom of a lake.
True story by “Project Moots” Retold by: Jeremy and Robin Cleaveland
Inside the new 2014 Moots catalog we have featured several Moots employees and their favorite bike of choice. Along with that we are taking short videos so you can hear them talk more about why they choose that Moots model as their favorite. First up is Eric Hindes, who has been with Moots for 13 lucky years and also heads up our machining department.
Click the video to hear more about his Mooto X and meet his trusty side kick-Miles.
There is no doubt that we’re proud of and excited by the bikes that we make, from the RSL road bike to the MootoX YBB to the FrosTi and everything in between. However, there are times when our stock offerings aren’t “exactly” what a customer is looking for. Sometimes they want something that is a little more, shall we say, purpose-built.
Our friends at North Central Cyclery in DeKalb, IL have been involved in the gravel riding scene for quite some time and put on a Gravel Metric ride that has attracted the likes of cyclocross great Ben Berden. That gives these guys a little street-cred when they wanted to make a variation on our PsychloX. The joint collaboration has turned into a “near” trademark bike for NCC dubed the Minotaur – half ‘cross bike, half 29er, 100% fun.
October 4th, 2013….the deep stuff is on the way!
Call them what you want, fat bikes, sand bikes, snow bike…it’s all the same, it’s all pretty damn fun. Here at Moots it’s that time of year to think FROSTI. We are making a run of these bikes that will be ready for early winter delivery. With this first big snow fall of the season(that just fell last night) we are excited for the snow bike season to come. We have also added a 5” tire option model to the line so now you can choose to run the 29er+ wheel size during the non-Winter months.
Orders are taken through our Moots Dealers only.
You can take a look at the 4’’ Frosti here: MOOTS FROSTI
You can also look over the geometry tables for the two different models below:
Back at the end of August Moots made the trip to Germany for what is the World Championships of bike shows….Eurobike. Held in Friedrichshafen Germany, which sits on the edge of a giant lake that is surrounded by, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. A beautiful setting to say the least. At times during the week it was hard to remember what time it was and that we were even at a bike show. Long days on your feet while battling jet lag made for some interesting napping locations. But hey, I’m not complaining by any means. To this day it’s amazing to me how the bicycle can bridge language barriers and cultural differences so easily. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the bike is the international friend maker. If we don’t speak the same language hand gestures and body movements can easily get the point across that we all love to ride. Another point that was clear to me during the show was how much people appreciate handmade; blood-and-sweat-poured-into-it-products, even across oceans of space. People do really care about products that are well made no matter where they are from.
During the show we were able to get out and do a couple of short rides with the fine folks from Rapha, which really made working and traveling those long hours worth it. The stories and people we met during our trip are too great to put into words, but below is a collection of photos that we took along the way.
Ah, yes the lovely place that is Las Vegas. The host of Interbike for the past 16 years. This year, in my opionion did it right. We stayed off the strip, away from the casinos and cigarette smoke and we even managed to ride those bikes we make. What? Ride bikes? Yes, it’s what we love to do….about as much as making them. We all returned home none the worse for wear….tired yes, better than usual….yes. Those bike rides helped for sure.
We gathered a small amount of photos of our travels, which you can view here: MOOTS FLICKR-VEGAS
Look for new updates on MOOTS.COM this week.
The race where it all began. The course took an unusual detour through an elementary school gymnasium.
European based GrassMoots racer Dan Seaton has had a rough go of it, but through it all, he’s found a new love for the bike….he writes:
It’s about love, this relationship, though sometimes we forget it. We make it about something else: suffering or glory or just plain desire. We ride our bikes to win, to achieve, to push ourselves beyond some previously impossible limit, and in so doing, lose sight of what first drew us to the bike in the first place.
We all know it, and, of course, we all do it sometimes. Our motivations shift, we find different reasons to ride our bikes, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Still, I’ve been reminded recently of the pure delight of achieving symbiosis with a bike that loves you back and it has changed the way I ride.
My story starts on a brisk, sunny Sunday last November, on a fast, technical cyclocross course on the banks of the Meuse river, which flows northwest through the hilly Ardennes region of Belgium. I was excited about my chances on a compact, grassy course well-suited to my strengths, and the race got off to a very promising start. But on a tricky, off-camber turn where the course transitioned from grass to pavement, my front wheel slid out from under me and I tumbled hard, head-over-heels, onto the road.
The crash effectively ended my 2012 cyclocross campaign. The fall aggravated a back injury that had been nagging for weeks already, and, as one of the foulest Belgian winters in recent memory took hold, between the pain and gloom and rain, my passion for the bike dribbled away. I realized, a few weeks later, that I was riding like a zombie, pedaling, empty and unmotivated, with no love at all. I hung the bike up, turned my attention to covering the growing excitement of a pro cyclocross season that would, for the first time ever, climax with a world championships in America, and took my longest break from cycling in more than a decade.
Our back yard and how it looked for much of the winter. An unusual sight in a country where snow is a rarity.
Europe, meanwhile, sunk deep into a winter that would not release its grip. Cyclocross season ended under a blanket of late February snow and road season barely sputtered to life. They canceled the spring semi-classic Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. A month later they nearly canceled Gent-Wevelgem. The Ronde van Vlaandered started in sub-freezing weather. And, meanwhile, my own spring of cycling got fitfully underway. I rode heavily bundled, often interrupted by snow and rain.
But the winter finally broke, roughly at the same time as Fabian Cancellara was winning his third Paris-Roubaix. April blossomed and I, reenergized after a long hiatus, uncorked one of the hardest months of training I’ve ever done. I suffered and pushed, practically willing myself back into shape. I wish I could say this was the moment I rediscovered my love for the bike, but it wasn’t. I was still preoccupied by form, by effort, too focused on wringing every possible drop of pain from my riding to remember to make room for joy.
Maybe it was this preoccupation that led to the fall a few weeks later. It was not one of those slow-motion accidents cyclists know so well, the kind that starts with that impossibly long moment in which we realize the ground will get the better of us no matter what we do.
Rolling downhill, fast, the ground got me before I even knew anything had gone wrong. I landed hard. My left arm hit first, then my face. Then the rest of me, crumpling awkwardly onto the road.
As soon as I climbed to my feet I knew it was bad. There were too many bystanders, too many people offering help for it to have been a routine road rash and bruises affair. Though I felt little pain as a dragged myself and my bike to the curb, I could already sense what was to come, spiraling outwards, inevitably: the police, the ambulance, the phone call to my wife — a message delivered as calmly as possible, “I’m ok, don’t worry, but they’re going to take me to the hospital.”
A week after coming home from the hospital. Starting to heal up.
Then the X-rays and IVs and stitches, surgical consultations and long, uncomfortable days in a hospital bed. Wednesday night turned into Thursday, Friday, and — finally — Saturday morning. 56 hours after I first arrived at the hospital I walked home, my left arm bolted back together with several screws and a metal plate.
The final medical report says I both fractured my forearm and dislocated my wrist, an uncommonly serious and difficult injury, according to my orthopedist. I sustained extensive abrasions over my whole body and a laceration above the eye. Amazingly, my helmet was barely scratched so, fortunately, I had not even the slightest sign of a concussion or brain injury.
For many people, this may have been the moment to step back, to reassess goals and think about why I was riding. Not for me. Still focused on form and training, a few days after I came home I rebuilt my bike one-handed, dragged my trainer out onto our patio, and started pedaling in place, sweltering in the bright May sunshine. First I just pedaled, then pedaled hard, then started doing intervals.
Because surgery had more or less repaired the damage to my arm, I wore only a brace, no cast, and three weeks after my surgery, the doctor cleared me to start riding on the road again. I worked my way back from easy 45 minute trips to three hour epics with 1200 m of climbing, all the time maintaining singular focus on the form I hoped would lift me to great things when cyclocross started again in September.
I’m ticking over a nice, relaxed tempo with my friend David on a bike path that follows the canal out of Brussels and towards the industrial cities of southern Belgium when a guy I don’t know pulls alongside me.
“We’re going to a group ride,” he says in enthusiastic French. “You have to come with us!”
I dither. It’s been a long time since I’ve ridden in a group, and we have a workout planned, steep Flemish hills to climb. But he’s persistent.
“It’s a good ride,” he says. “Lots of people. Really nice roads.”
We follow him to a nearly deserted suburban street. A few other cyclists ride a lazy loop back and forth along the short city block, waiting. At 5:30 we roll languidly out, perhaps a dozen of us.
This is not what I was promised, I think skeptically.
But then we turn the corner and a few more people connect with the back of the group. Another corner, another few. Twenty minutes into the ride I turn around and see a train of people that stretches backwards as far as I can see. The pace is friendly, the evening is cool, bathed in golden sunlight, and the roads are perfect little Belgian roads. We wind southwest, snaking between the dairy farms and cornfields that dot the Flemish countryside.
An hour into the ride it hits, as hard as the pavement now those many months ago: today I have regained something that had been lost for a very long time.
I am not thinking about training. I am not thinking about suffering or injury or victory. I am just one of a multitude—perhaps a hundred cyclists by this point—flying across the countryside under the fading August sun.
Just after my first ride on the road. I spent my first few weeks back on the road on my cyclocross bike; the more forgiving position and geometry helped keep my not-fully-healed arm more comfortable.
It’s about love, this relationship. It’s about me and my Moots moving in perfect harmony, so close that the bike ceases to be an external object and instead becomes an extension of myself. Everything—all the work I’ve done, all the pain I’ve endured these many months—fades away behind me and ahead is nothing but this perfect late-summer evening, a hundred brand new friends, and the open road.
Kelly Boniface is a key member of our GrassMoots Team and a stand out of all things that you want in an ambassador and all-round good human being. She’s been laying low off the race circuit this season, but trust me, she’s been doing some super pulls in the game of life. She writes in….
Did you retire?
I’ve had that question posed to me quite a bit this summer. Hmmm, how do you retire from something that defines a part of who you are as a person?
I’ve been a competitive athlete for as long as I can remember. Aside from a couple of pregnancy years (which is an athletic feat if there ever was one) I’ve always found myself with some kind of race on my radar.
But, this summer has been different. As the spring unfolded it became clear that circumstances in my personal life were going to make traveling around all summer to bike races impossible. I needed to make a shift in my priorities. Instead of looking forward to riding my bike I was trying to schedule it into my day because I “had to.” That’s not me, that’s not why I ride and that’s not why I race. I race because I like to, but more importantly, I LOVE to ride my bike. So, I put my heart rate monitor in the dresser drawer and just rode my bike. For fun. With friends. Or solo. I rediscovered my love for the soul ride.
Look how happy I am!
My daughters are now athletes themselves. Many of my weekends have been spent watching soccer games, swim meets and dance recitals. Here I am getting in a few quick Lunch Loops at a youth soccer tournament in Grand Junction.
I’ve also been coaching for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Cycling program. “It’s a Girl Thing” is a new program focused on teaching tween girls the joys of mountain biking. A perfect fit for me! Here we all are (my older daughter is in this cute posse, too.)
So, the answer to the question is “no, I’m not retired.” My days of racing every other weekend all summer may be over, but I’m still a mountain biker that loves to ride her bike. You can’t retire from that! And, I’m CERTAIN that I have not strapped a number plate to the front of my bike for the last time.