Mountain Biking with My Lame Bike

 My dad was more of a bike buyer than a bike rider or fixer. He would bring home bikes and throw them in the pile ride them once or never and then get mad when they were not taken care of of maintained. We had a bike shed that was a huge snarl of part bikes and broken bikes that my brother and I would occasionally sort through, tune up and diagnose - then run up to the local hardware store where my dad had a credit account and get the supplies we needed to have working bikes for a short time. When I first went into high school mountain biking was becoming a really big fad and I wanted in on it but I was unwilling to spend my money on a nice bike and my dad would not spring for one. I sifted the bike pile until I came up with an old Rock Hopper frame and then I started tarting it up with some turd polish and sow's ear to silk purse handiwork. It was an unbecoming shade of green so I stripped the paint off and made it black and then took red paint and made a cool pattern with a toothbrush all around the various joints on the bike. I got new grips for the handle bars and got new tubes and tires and break pads until it looked like to me a very fine bike indeed. There is a place in the DIYer's brain that allows for a fair amount of delusion when their handiwork is viewed in a vacuum and as long as they never have to see a real one next to their efforts the illusion can perpetuate., The real problem is that when you see a real high end pro job with suspension and shiny new chrome parts and anodized aluminum breaks it takes a lot more violent force of will to not realize that what you have is a piece of steaming crap. That is what happened to me the first time I took my new-to-me bike out for a ride with the kids who had real custom bikes they were able to shift gears and absorb shocks while my shade tree bike shopping had left my gear selection short of the standard 21 by exactly 19. It took every twitching fiber of underachieving muscles in my inadequate legs to power my bike up the hills because I was compelled to do it in either the hardest gear or one right in the middle of the pack. When we got to the top of the local mountain trail the other guys poured over the edge of the rocky decline like lemmings while I was considering how valorous I would look with a nice discretionary walk down the hill. I mounted up and rode nice and slow down the slope working around rocks which made me feel embarrassed because I was such a wussy. I did however make it down with minimal injuries having only wrecked twice. One of the fast boys had not been so lucky and had a nice broken wrist for his troubles. I never went biking with them again. I wished them well and focused on rock climbing.