Moots Essay – John Singer
PASSING A VAMOOTS FROM FATHER TO SON
For many years the Patek Phillipe watch company ran ads that contained a tagline that said something like, “You never really own a Patek Phillipe, you just hold it in trust for the next generation.” Due to the quality and strength of Moots titanium frames, this truly is the case for my Vamoots, my 22 year old son, Charlie, and me. As I explain below, I handed over my beloved Vamoots to Charlie in December 2016, since I will not be able to ride it again. In retrospect, I realize that I never really owned my Vamoots, I simply had the use of it until the time came for me to proudly to pass it on to my son.
I suspect that the photo submitted with this essay is perhaps the single most pedestrian one that you’ll receive, a December 4, 2016, photo of my Vamoots bicycle in the luggage area of a bus, about to leave me in Baltimore for its new home with Charlie in New York City. Prior to it going to be with Charlie in his fifth-floor walk-up, I had about dozen years and many thousands of enjoyable miles on my Vamoots. I would still be riding it if I had any choice in the matter, however, due to back surgery and nerve damage in my legs making riding unsafe, putting the Vamoots on the bus, literally and symbolically, ended my days as a cyclist. I can think of no better way to complete the transition of making Charlie the Vamoots’s next trustee than having Moots refurbish it, Charlie and I coming together to Steamboat Springs, and then handing over to Charlie his “new” bike. Also, Charlie is about two inches taller than I so my Moots kit doesn’t fit him and he could use his own!
Ironically, the photo of the bike in the bus also could have been taken in 2008, the day before I rode my Vamoots in a triathlon from New York City to Philadephia. The Vamoots and I went to New York by bus and the next day I swam 1.2 miles in the Hudson, rode the Vamoots 87 miles across New Jersey to the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and then ran a 10K through Fairmount Park, finishing third in my age group, though admittedly there were only a handful of over 50 year old plus competitors.
Moots Essay – John Singer
Most of my cycling was on country roads through beautiful horse country in Maryland and Pennsylvania, with occasional forays to North Carolina’s Crystal Coast and Delaware’s Eastern Shore. For about 12 years, a group of four families went to a YMCA family camp in Arapahoe, North Carolina. Each morning, several of us would leave camp just before first light and watch the sun rise over the Neuse River while riding approximately 30 miles or so before rejoining our families at camp for breakfast. We usually stopped at a coffee shop in the small town of Oriental, NC. Every year the same group of locals was sitting on the shop’s porch and the same barista greeted us with the nicknames she’d concocted for “her” bikers. I truly think that our annual arrival was a highlight of their year, and our return to Oriental was certainly one of ours.
Even more memorably, however, my Vamoots made it possible for me to do some iconic rides, including climbing Mt. Ventoux and Vail Pass, and following the Tour de France for a week. Though my cycling days sadly ended at age 58, well before I ever could imagine (and before a highly anticipated post-retirement ride across the US ride with a college friend), I take comfort in two very specific ways. First, despite the premature end to my riding, I still had the fortune to have cycling experiences that elude many long-time cyclists (and to got to have them on a top quality bike). Second, I get to see Charlie use and enjoy the Vamoots; he worked in a bike shop in high school so I know “our” bike is in good hands and its quality is fully appreciated.
In June 2009, a couple of months after I started back riding following my first back surgery, we took a family trip to Steamboat Springs. Visiting Moots was high on Charlie’s and my agenda. Three things still stand out from our fabulous tour. First, while my wife still didn’t fully understand why someone would pay as much as I did for my beloved Vamoots, after seeing the quality and care put into fabrication she at least understood why Moots frames cost as much as they do. Second, before my surgery, Charlie jokingly suggested that I call Moots to ask you to make the titanium rods and screws that that the surgeon would use since I really loved my titanium Vamoots – it would make me, literally, be at one with my bike. I mentioned Charlie’s comments to our tour guide and he responded, not surprisingly,
Moots Essay – John Singer
that while Moots fabricates its frames to incredibly high standards for bicycles, they’re not medical grade. He quickly added that, had I called, I would not have been the first Moots owner to ask Moots to fabricate titanium surgical implants. Finally, we were shown a bike that was being checked out and refurbished after being involved in a crash. The tour guide said that titanium is so strong that Moots frames are bombproof and it is virtually impossible to damage a frame or wear it out. He commented that while I would need to replace components over time, my Vamoots frame would almost definitely outlast my riding days. Little did our tour guide or I know just how prescient his prediction was.