Recently, a friend said that he had an old mountain bike (MTB) that he wanted to dispose of and would I take it off his hands and either do something with it, or find a good home for it. He subsequently dropped it off at my house. The bike turned out to have been his first ever MTB and he had some great memories associated with it, although he still wanted to get rid of it. After a couple of days on my workstand, the bike emerged shiny and fit for purpose again. It is usual to interview the rider to get the story and facts associated with the memories. However, I thought I’d interview the bike instead, and here’s how it went……..
Me: Hi! Great to meet you. What’s your name and where were you born?
Bike: Hi! My full name is Specialized M2 Stumpjumper, but you can call me Stumpy. I was born in the year 2000 and grew up really fast, about 3 days to be exact, from ‘tubes to wheels’, and in a big factory in the USA.
Me: Did you stay in the USA or go somewhere else?
Stumpy: I moved from the USA to the UK almost immediately. I don’t remember much about the journey other than it was some sort of cruise with a load of other Specialized bikes. We all had very small and dark cabins, which were a bit boxy. I do remember being woken up by someone and being pulled out of my boxy cabin and into a brightly lit workshop. The person who released me was smiling when I first saw him. He was wearing an apron that had part of my name embroidered on it, so it was a nice experience.
Me: What happened next?
Stumpy: The man who released me proceeded to very carefully and gently, put my wheels on and made sure I was working and looking great. He then pushed me through the building that had lots of other bikes in it as well. I remember being looked at by all of the other bikes in the place as he pushed me past them and then, he put me right in a big window so I could see everything that was going on in the street outside. There were lots of other people who stopped and smiled at me from the other side of the glass. Some of the little people even pressed their noses to the glass to try to touch me. It was a nice experience.
Me: So this was the bike shop then? Where was it and what happened next?
Stumpy: Yes. I soon learnt that it was a bike shop and would be the place I would stay until a really great rider could be found for me. The bike shop was in a beautiful city in the north of the UK called York. Bicycles are used a lot in the City of York apparently. The time I spent in the bike shop was great. It was light, warm and I got regularly polished. There were always happy people walking around. I met lots of potential riders, but it took some time to find the right one. I think the shop people tried really hard to make sure they found me a great rider.
Me: So, how did you find your great rider and when?
Stumpy: It was in early 2001 when a rider came in looking for a real quality MTB, and he had the means to buy the right one. I remember him first seeing me and talking to the man in the apron in the shop. He was asking lots of questions and his accent was very different from anyone I heard talking in the shop before, but he seemed a nice person. The shop man adjusted a few things on me so I would fit the rider and he even let me be ridden down the street a short way for the rider and me to see if we liked each other. It was the first time I’d been outside and it was good to get some fresh air. I remember feeling all of my moving parts settling into a rhythm as we moved along together. It was a good first meeting.
Me: Then what happened?
Stumpy: I think it was a mutual feeling that both me and the rider were meant for each other. After that first meeting, the rider said he would return in two days time to collect me. He was very pleased, and so was the shop man, so it made me feel happy too. The rider did come back to collect me and we went to my next home in York, which was a nice place too. I lived in a big space that I shared with a car and my rider and I were regularly out on the trails and roads. It turned out that this rider would be the one that I would spend the next 20 years with, so it was the start of a special relationship.
Me: Tell me about what you and your rider got up to then?
Stumpy: We started our relationship quite gently. Nothing too rough or muddy or wet or cold, although we soon started to become a great team and really start riding fast off road. I got regular oil in the places I needed it, was always washed and cleaned and was treated with the respect I deserved.
Me: What places did you ride in or go to?
Stumpy: I’ve had a truly international life. I am American and my rider was originally from the Czech Republic, hence the different accent. He was dedicated to his health and wanted to really improve his cycling. We did lots of rides in the Yorkshire Dales and in some of the trail parks in Dalby Forest. The weather was quite often wet and windy, but we didn’t mind. We just cycled through it.
Me: Where else did you go?
Stumpy: After a couple of years in York, we moved to Moscow in Russia. It wasn’t specifically for riding, I think it was something to do with my riders job. Y’know, the thing he did every day that he used me to escape from. Moscow didn’t have that much in the way of mountains to ride and it was bitterly cold in the winter. After that, we moved to Prague in the Czech Republic for a while and we did a race together that was really great. My rider had an older brother who would always be faster, and in one event, me and my rider beat his brother by a long way, which was nice. After Prague, we moved to Switzerland to continue our riding together. The trails in Switzerland are magnificent and we had great fun. In total, we rode together frequently for about 6 years.
Me: What happened after the 6 years? Did you stop riding together?
Stumpy: My rider was getting much faster and technology had developed so fast in the cycling world during our 6 years together, that there were new bikes that could things better than I could. In the end, my rider decided to get a new one. It was a Swiss bike with bigger wheels, disc brakes and better gears.
Me: Were you sad to be replaced by another bike?
Stumpy: Not really. My rider had looked after me and replaced parts when needed. I remember needing a new bottom bracket as I my bearings had worn a lot. It was a bit like having a double hip replacement, but once fitted, I felt really balanced and fast again. My rider sometimes allowed his son to ride me, but his son wasn’t really a very keen cyclist so we just had gentle rides out.
Me: So what’s the future hold then?
Stumpy: After 20 years together, my rider didn’t have space for me in his new house so he gave me to his friend, and now my new rider, who gently brought me back to my original fighting speed and spirit. My new rider also lives in Switzerland, so I can continue to do some mountain rides there with him.
Me: I notice from the photos that you’re looking really good for a 20 year old bike. I love the colours of your frame. Are they original?
Stumpy: Thanks for the compliment. The colours are original and remind me very much of the blue, white and orange of the Ford GT40 Le Mans race cars. I think they might have been the inspiration for my frame colour. I am mostly original, with a few new parts.
Me: What will you and your new rider do together in the future?
Stumpy: I’m really lucky that my new rider likes riding any bicycle, modern or even a vintage one like me. He has other bikes that are my age and also from the USA, so it’s good to be in a nice place with them. My new rider also has a connection with York and I think we’ll be heading back there at some point. We have discussed the future together and we’ll see what works out.
Me: Wow! What a great story and life you’ve had.
Stumpy: I know. I’ve spent a lot of my time riding really hard and I’ve come through it due to my strong frame. I have been fairly low maintenance for my rider in the last 20 years and I hope to be able to do another 20 years at least, with other like-minded riders. I might even do some charity work when I get back to the UK as well. There are lots of people who don’t get the chance to ride a nice bicycle or even ride in the places that I’ve been to, so it would be good to help them experience some real cycling. We’ll see what happens and I’m looking forward to the future.
Me: Thanks for sharing a really great insight into your life and I hope we can catch up on your life in the near future.
Stumpy: You’re very welcome! I hope other bikes and their riders are inspired by my story. Keep riding out there. I know I will!
All photos by the Author