By Bill Plock
When I rolled up to Lowdermilk Park in Naples Florida on my completely overhauled 2011 Trek Madone, I felt a bit like I was driving Clint Eastwood’s El Camino. With Zipp 404’s on this semi-vintage (in consumerism years) 5.9 frame, some of the fella’s I was about to ride across Florida with ooo’d and awe’d about my re-born bike. I’m not pretending to think its some kind of really cool old steel frame race bike like Brian Hayes has in his vintage bike shack in Victor, Colorado. It was never an eye catching bike new. But now it looks dated with its rim brakes and a frame style Trek doesn’t make anymore.
This is Part II of our “Rising from the Ashes we explore the experience of a “New, Old Bike”. Link here for Part 1
What I do love is how my old Madone “found” me after my Cervelo R5 was stolen a few months ago.
After the ickiness of my garage broken into and honestly feeling a bit burned out from riding, I decided not to immediately find a new road bike. Maybe like a lot of people who don’t get a new puppy the minute they lose their dog, I just wanted some time and explored more mountain biking, more hiking and had a nasty bout with Covid.
But then I got “The Invite” to explore Florida on bikes with a bunch of self proclaimed “Knuckleheads”. We scouted a new possible route for an organized ride. How do I turn that down?! But I needed a bike, and fast. (Link to that story HERE)
And there it was, my old Madone happily sitting on on my Saris smart trainer just begging for attention. I thought, “why not fix this one up, take the wheels off my never ridden triathlon bike and use that?” (My original Ultregra wheels needed replacing).
I knew it needed some love, some parts and a few tweaks, so I wondered if my top notch, service course bike mechanic friend Andy could fix it up. I told him just use the minimum parts and get it rideable for my 285 mile trip and then I would still consider a new road bike. Now I won’t for a long time hopefully thanks to him.
He wanted no part of “sort of fixing it up.” He is a perfectionist and insisted we do it right; take everything off the frame, repack and replace bearings, all new drive train, shifters, cranks, cables, etc etc… He scrounged for good used parts, even parts off a bike a friend gave him to use “for a good home” after she was hit by a motorist and needed a new bike.
I felt like the kids in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang watching their dad dismantle part of the house to bring back the old race car saved from the scrap heap. Andy would call or text almost daily with some tantalizing update or request approval to spend just a little more for this or that.
My Madone was pretty special to me as it replaced another Madone broken when a driver hit me riding down Lookout. Luckily my body prevailed much better than my bike. Fast forward 40,000 miles and the need to replace the wheels and a tiny crack in the frame expertly fixed by Broken Carbon in Boulder when I decided I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to buy a discounted R5. Hindsight 20/20, still not a bad decision, but this one was better.
Trek seems to be in love with the combination of letters that name their road bikes; Madone, Domane and Emonda. So I will affectionately rename my Madone to “Nomad”e with an E. Like a nomad, my bike is on the move again. Andy put two pages of parts, materials and tremendous time to get it rolling again. But it rides so well!
Andy is my friend and wanted to help, but he also believes in repurposing and sustainability and put a lot of love into this project. With the insurance money I could’ve easily bought a very nice new road bike, but why? Sure the new 12 speed Dura-Ace is nice. I guess disc brakes are good, although I’m not a 100% on them, but I did toy with the idea of one bike and two sets of wheels; road and gravel. But the heart of the bike, the frame, hasn’t really changed much in the last decade—at least in process.
I picked up my bike two days before I left and because of snow I couldn’t test it. I packed it and off I went.
Simply put. It was serendipitous. To feel the love of biking again on a trusted and reliable bike with so many conquered mountains and stories lived; to be on it once again thanks to a friend next to the ocean on my way to Key West on a new adventure with new friends felt amazingly sublime.
The moment I hit the road keeping up with Dave and Deiter, pushing kind of hard to meet the others, I felt so good about this decision. Like, so proud to have kept this bike alive. And if felt better than ever. Tight, responsive, comfortable and the Zipp wheels with the bearings completely re-lubricated rolled so nice. It literally felt like a brand new bike and at a fraction of the cost. Now there is a new bike out there for someone else and I made less impact on the environment.
In light of feeling bike burnout last fall with not such great health over the winter, I have never felt so grateful to be on a bike. As I stared in the calming surf washing ashore, the sound of the water retreating across the sand back to the ocean reminded me of the whirring of the wheels on smooth Florida pavement in the heart of the Everglades.