Year: 1997. Place: Moots booth, Mountain Bike World Cup, Skyline Park, Napa, California. Scenario: I had crashed my bike in a race, damaging my neck and shoulder, and then had been rear ended, and was suffering a lot of neck pain on and off the bike. I was looking for a bike that would be more comfortable than my old, but classic, 1985 Columbus SL Eddy Merckx. I looked at Softride, and thought that the beam would be more comfortable, but being a designer, I had a lot of problems with the aesthetics of the bike. I like things I spend a lot of time with to be beautiful. I visited a lot of bike stores, but usually the smaller high end frames weren’t built up and there wasn’t any way to try them to see if they might be more comfortable.
I discussed my issues with the Moots rep, and he offered that I could try a bike and if I didn’t like it, I could return it for a small restocking fee. Moots sold complete bikes then. This turned out to be a deal I couldn’t refuse and I ordered my bike: Vamoots with Moots stem and seatpost, and a Dura Ace kit. On that first ride I could tell within a 100 yards that it was more comfortable—probably a combination of the titanium frame and carbon fork, plus the titanium stem and seat post, versus the all steel Merckx with its stiff aero Ambrosio rims. And it was gorgeous, with beautiful welds.
My DuraAce parts started to disintegrate this last fall and I was finally forced to rekit the bike. Rekitting the bike wasn’t in my budget, and although my original intention was to send the frame off to you to be refinished when I rekitted, that really wasn’t in the budget. This older bike is more pleasing to my eye than the newer ones (no offence), with the curved fork and the slimmer quill stem: classic elegance. Just think how sharp it would look if the finish matched the new kit. We’ve raced some, but work takes priority over race level training and risk.
My bike hasn’t traveled the world, though I’ve done a bit, mostly recently working in Bhutan. (Bhutan’s roads require something like a Routt or YBB, so I didn’t take the Vamoots.) Really, the roads in my neighborhoods, Napa and Sonoma Counties in California, are pretty spectacular; no need to travel far afield. Chiles and Chileno, Highway 1 and 128, Westside and Eastside, Bohemian and Bodega, Coleman Valley, Marshall Wall . . . Best ride: Buddhist Bicycle Pilgrimage, inaugural year, 2002.