Memorial Day and the Velveteen Rabbit

1984 Trek 620

The 620 had been the Man’s go-to Sunday ride for the last couple years. The Man bought it after he really quit racing and training and wanted a comfy bike for long weekend rides.  The 620 had carried the Man to countless family gatherings at the cottage on Lake Tichigan, to the in-laws home at the RacineKenosha border, to work and back, as well as long slow summer day rides to nowhere in particular, all without a flat or a breakdown.

Sure it had a few scratches and nicks, but the Man had not cleaned or tuned the 620 since last summer, even though the 620 saw the other bikes being taken out for Sunday rides many times this Spring.  The 620 could understand, but it seemed the Man had tired of riding his beloved touring bike. So the 620 hung in the basement and waited. The 620 waited in te basement a long time, and as it waited, the air went very low in its tires and it became a bit shabby.

Then a few days ago the Man came down to the basement, pulled the 620 off the hook and put it in the stand.  The man cleaned the 620 better than he ever had in the past.  He lubed it, pumped up the tires and carried it out to the back yard.  So clean and shiny, the 620 was proud to be choosen from a stable of such noble steeds.  But more, the 620 was happy to that the Man wanted to ride together again.

But when the Man put the bike outside, he started taking pictures of it. After the Man had taken many photographs of all the parts of the 620, he put it in the dark basement again. The 620 was confused and sad. Then the other bikes told the 620 this means the Man was going to sell it. The 620 would not believe this lie and thought the other bikes were jealous because of the fabulous tune and cleaning it had just gotten.

But days went by and the Man came downstairs to take other bikes out for rides. The 620 hung quietly on the hook and began to believe it was going to be sold.This had happened once before, but only after the other Man had grown too old to ride a bike and his children put the 620 up for sale. But this was different.  This Man was still riding other bikes. How could the Man not love it anymore after they shared so many pleasant rides, now just memories? 

But it was precisely because this was such a great bike that the Man thought he should sell it. He was not riding the Trek 620 very much lately, and he thought it deserved to go to the home of someone who would give this slightly worn but stout bicycle the attention and appreciation it deserved, as the previous owner who had it before had done for this Man.

So the Man gave it a super cleaning and tune-up and I posted it for sale on Craigslist for $750.  

Then came Memorial Day and the Man decided to cycle out out to meet family and friends at the father-in-law’s cottage on Lake Tichigan for swimming, brats, steakhouse potato salad, watermellon and margaritas.  The ride was to be about 28 miles on mostly rolling rustic roads.  The Man went into the basement to look through the rack of bikes hanging in wait.  The custom Waterford called to him “Ride Me, I can take you anywhere.” The flash carbon USPS Trek called out “Ride me, I am faster.” The little folding bike squeaked, “Ride me, I can fit most easily in the car if you want to ride back with your family.” But the recently cleaned up 1984 Trek 620 just sat quiet in the repair stand waiting to be sold.

The Man looked over the many bike hanging from the hooks and suddenly turned to  the repari stand, looked at the 620 thought “Maybe I should give this one more ride to make sure everthing works.  I haven’t ridden it since last summer and I want to be able to tell any interested buyers that it still rides well. ”

Together for one last ride?

So the Man hauled the surprised 620 outside, hopped on and the two of them headed out the driveway as they had done so many times in the past. The 620 knew the best route and it virtually sung the whole ride.  Every shift was smooth, and the fat 28mm tires and long wheelbase smoothed all the bumps. The Man was grinning from ear to ear the whole ride, even though it was 90 degrees and they had a headwind the whole way.

They stopped for lunch in a nice park along the way. As the Man sipped his iced coffee and ate the colld venison steak he had packed, he marveled at the bike leaning against the tree next to him.  He was having one of the nicest rides he has had all year on the bike he was planning on selling.

When the Man got to the cottage, his smile muscles were more tired than his leg muscles, and all thoughts of selling the 620 vanished. “This bike is SWEET!” the Man exclaimed. “I love this bike. I can’t sell it,” he said while admiring the now happy 620.

And that is the story of how I fell in love with my Trek 620 all over again today.

When I first got it, I converted the bike to 700c wheels from the original 27 inchers so I could more easily swap wheels, tires and tubes with other bikes in my stable.  While I was at it, I built a front wheel with a Shimano generator hub with a Lumotec Oval Plus headlamp.  I also added Nitto Noodle handlebars, a Nitto Pearl stem, Planet Bike Cascadia full fenders and a third(clam-on) bottle holder.

This bike has a short 56cm top tube and a 57.5 CtoT seat tube.  That geo combined with the long 46cm chainstays and 28mm tires and Nitto cockpit make for an all day sucker kind of ride.

The half-step gearing makes me wonder why anyone would ever want a ten speed cassette. Half-step with a 50-45-26 front chainring combo makes for some of the smoothest shift transitions this side of SRAM Red.  Rather than sit in the same front ring and running through your 10 speed rear cassette, half-step shifting allows you to make fine shifts in the front ring.  This allows you to find the near perfect gear for mildly rolling terrain without the need of a million chainrings.

About Dave Schlabowske, Deputy Director

Dave was the first full-time staff member hired to open the Bike Fed's Milwaukee office 15 years ago. A former professional photographer and life-long Milwaukee resident, Dave likes wool, long rides, sour beer, and a good polar vortex once in a while.

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