There are few things as exciting as building up a new bike, especially one that you've been waiting and waiting to build. The journey to my first ride on my own Spot Brand Longboard 29-er begins about eight months before, when I first rode the Longboard belt-drive bike at the Interbike dirt demo in Boulder City, NV.
I love the way it handles and corners. I fall in love with the belt-drive, which translates to instant engagement and propulsion forward with the slightest pedal stroke. The belt-drive is beautiful in its simplicity. In the months to come I will go back and forth arguing with myself about whether I should go belt-drive or geared bike.
I am impressed with the ride quality, handling capability, the fact that it is high-quality steel, and importantly, because the size small actually fits me. I just barely reach the sign at the 29-er amusement park that says you must be at least this tall to ride the ride. At 5'5" and female, my torso makes me too small for most 29-ers. By virtue of the larger wheels, the top tube lengths and standover heights are larger than they are for most bikes. The Spot Longboard 29-er has a shorter toptube and lower standover height than many other bikes in its class.
I ride the Spot Longboard first thing on Monday morning at the Interbike dirt demo, and then am repeatedly drawn back to their booth to ask questions and pet the bikes. I meet the company president, learn more about them as a company, and like everything I see.
Back in San Diego, I continue to think about this bike, corresponding with Jen from Spot for three months before finally deciding to get one. In late January I contact Spot Bikes and order my bike. The small Longboard is not even in production yet, and it's looking like demand is greater than anticipated. Although I'll have to wait an anticipated 6-10 weeks, I will get one of the first ones off the line. Jen tells me the first frames should be back from weld by March. I decide to go with the geared bike, since I struggle with hills as it is, and I don't need calves that frighten people. I make my first payment and giggle inwardly in anticipation.
I choose the blue color scheme instead of the green, and decide I will build this bike up with red accents: red Chris King headset, red Hadley hubs, and red spoke nipples on Stan's Flow rims. In mid-March, Jen contacts me to say that they are experiencing unexpected delays. This is their first year of production on this bike, so I am not surprised. I've seen things from a manufacturer's standpoint, and know how often delays take place for any number of reasons.
The month passes, and she contacts me again, keeping me apprised of the progress and letting me know what to expect. She apologizes for further delays, this time because the larger frames went to weld before the smaller frames. I jokingly tell her they can make it up to me by stamping my name into the bottom bracket. Jen laughs at the idea, and admits she's never heard of anyone doing that. To my astonishment, she says she thinks she can make that happen. I hold my breath and tell her, "No way. That would totally rock!"
Meanwhile, I'm busy amassing parts so I can build this bike. I order my headset from Chris King, and hubs from Hadley, and match them up with DT Swiss RWS ratchet thru-bolt skewers.
At the end of February, my mechanic buddy Steve notices that someone online is looking for a set of blue RaceFace cranks, which I happen to have in my garage. They came off my very first DH bike, a Turner RFX, that is now built up as my XC bike. I contact the guy, who tells me he'll trade me his set of XT cranks with 2 rings and a bash guard for my Race Face cranks. Wow. Just wow.
It's now the last week of March, and I'm at the series finale race for the Southridge downhill series. Donny Jackson always has a great raffle at the series ender, and this time is no exception. Although I did not take first place on the hill that day, I would like to thank Shimano for the XT brakes I won at the raffle. You have no idea how happy this makes me (and my mechanic).
The weeks pass, and I wait for my frame, getting regular updates from Jen at Spot. Things continue to fall into place.
At the end of May, I get an email from Jen saying that my bike is at paint and should be ready soon. The amount of paint on the frame will obscure the name "DREXLER" that is stamped in the bottom bracket, but we will all know it is there.
On July 11, 2008, I hear the FedEx truck pull up to my house, and I literally spring from my chair and bound out the door. Mr. FedEx is at the back of the truck pulling out a box as I bounce on my toes beside the open door. He looks up to see me and laughs. I suppose he's not used to seeing grown people bouncing up and down and clapping like a kid on Christmas Day.
I slowly pull out the frame, wanting the moment to last. It's been almost 7 months since I decided to order this bike, and it's totally worth the wait.
Over at Steve's house, we begin assembling the bike.
The finished bike.
My mechanic Steve and I go for a ride in Rose Canyon.
I begin getting to know the bike, and know I made a great choice.
Many thanks go to Jen Gersbach at Spot for all her help and many updates, and to the guys at weld who stamped "DREXLER" into the bottom bracket. Thanks go to Mom and Dad for giving me the frame as a birthday present and helping me make up for lost "play" time all those years I was a serious child. You're the best! Thank you's are in order to Suzanne at Hadley for all the help with the hubs, to Jim at Shimano for taking care of the racers at Fontana, to Bill who traded crank sets with me, to Mike at Stan's for taking care of us at the shop, to Paul at DT Swiss who spent time with me on the phone giving me advice about hubs and skewers, and a big thanks to Ron for lacing up my beautiful wheels. Huge big thanks go to my mechanic and good buddy Steve who advised me on parts and helped me put the bike together.
I'm a very happy girl.