Time Warps on a Seattle Bike Path

Photo: DL Byron/Bike Hugger

I was on bad-ass demo cross bike: a Specialized CruX with Zipp Wheels and SRAM CX-1. Mr. Himes, a Seattle attorney I ran into on the Alki Trail in Seattle, was on an old-school $700 Specialized Expedition, a great touring bike from the 1980s. I was in full race kit. He was wearing a sport coat, khakis, and loafers.

As we rode along I said, “Well, in comparison to your $25-at-a-future-estate-sale-bike, I doubt you’d like this $10k race bike.”

He laughed and replied, “No. Don’t think I would.”

Heading toward Alki Beach, Mr. Himes rang his bell to let people know he was coming. I decided to take a left turn into Schmitz Park to find some dirt.

On the single track, the CruX was stiff and responsive, the drivetrain precise and taut. The hydraulic brakes stopped me as if Jesus himself was pulling the brake lever.

I was enjoying my bike, but I couldn’t stop thinking about his. That Expedition was an aggregation of every great idea from three decades ago. Cantilever brakes, half-step gearing, plus a full complement of braze-ons. The Suntour Mountech shifter trimmed the front derailleur when you shifted the rear thanks to a little gear inside the shifter (before Shimano and SRAM, Suntour was the world’s leading innovator in bicycle components).

His rims were 40-spoke 4x Super Champions; strong enough to carry a hippo. Cross and gravel racers would buy that rim nowadays if they could get it with 24 holes.

Some people might have just turned their noses up at Mr. Himes and his old-school whip, but you could tell he was smart. He’d found a bike that worked for him, and he hadn’t felt the need to replace it for 31 years. Before we parted ways, he told me the bike had shuttled him to work on countless days and also hauled him across the United States three times, and Europe twice.

In contrast, I figured the carbon CruX I was on had a 3-year lifespan. It’a an amazing bike, but it’s newness was going to quickly fall out of fashion like a typecast starlet with no new parts to play.

My bike would be good until the next industry innovation replaced it. Meanwhile, I figured Mr. Himes would still be cruising along on his.

DL Byron is the founder and publisher of Bike Hugger and the editor of a magazine about bike culture.