|Wheelie action on my 1986 Miyata Trail Runner, circa Fall 1988.|
The Trail Runner was a good, solid, early boom era mountain bike, but not terribly impressive compared to a lot of contemporary bikes. It was, however, transformational, as my first high quality bike from an actual bike shop, and superior in precision and performance to any bike I'd ever ridden to that point. Although I had plenty of dirt riding experience on various bikes as a kid, the Trail Runner allowed me to go more places than any of them. It became part of my identity. I even rode this bike on a first date with a young woman, who, after more than two decades, still continues to be accepting, if not fully understanding of my bike obsession.
|What can I say? It's a fine example of Wyoming-style cheap entertainment.|
|A couple of shiftless slackers. Brian is in the background on a puke green '87 Diamond Back Curaca.|
My metallic platinum 23" Trail Runner had a lugged steel frame and unicrown fork of Miyata cr-mo tubing, with a mix of Shimano, Dia-Compe and SR parts, and 26 x 1.75" Miyata tires on Ukai rims. It had 18 friction-shifted gears, featuring newfangled at the time, biometric-advantaged Biopace chainrings. All those gears were definitely a new experience, but I most appreciated the lowest gear, enabling me to goof around riding over things. The idea of a really low gear is taken for granted now, but it's difficult to convey how revolutionary it felt back then.
I rode the Trail Runner mostly stock for quite a while, then eventually installed some ESGE fenders to ride in the muck. Later, I dropped the fenders and swapped the aluminum riser bar for a flat Tioga Prestige chromoly bar, and fatter rubber in the form of Fisher Fattrax tires. I even installed a quick release axle in place of the solid rear hub axle, to go with the front quick release. The Trail Runner was an educational platform for many mechanic skills, and induced me to begin building a set of tools that continues to grow to this day.
Many of the people I hung around with in college arrived with low end road bikes, department store bikes, or no bike at all, but after seeing the fun of fat tires, several soon got mountain bikes of their own. At the time, the technology of mountain bikes was changing rapidly. Angles got steeper, chainstays got shorter and the focus shifted from wandering and adventure to speed and acrobatics. Wild designs and colors proliferated. As it is with change and fickle youth, eventually the bloom fell off the rose for the Trail Runner and me, as something newer and shinier came along. Though I would have kept it if I could, back then I couldn't really afford another bike straight up, so I reluctantly parted with the Trail Runner in the Fall of 1989 to fund the next bike. In the intervening years, I've owned many bikes, but for a lot of reasons, no bike will ever have quite the magnitude of impact on me as that sturdy old Miyata.
|Riding up stairs in the snow, circa early 1989. By this point, the Trail Runner was sporting Tioga flat bars and Fisher Fattrax tires. My thrift store wardrobe was the polar opposite of lycra.|
|My half of the dorm room housed the majority of my possessions: a couple of flannel shirts, a stereo, a few records, a can of Tri-flow, a Specialized water bottle, and my Trail Runner. Roommate Brian interrupts my phone call with a squirt gun.|
|Synchronized radicalness. Rich the English guy is on an '87 Diamond Back Ascent. Yes, I'm wearing the same clothes as in the previous photo. No, it wasn't the same day.|
I then realized that the only reason this now seems odd is because of the copious volume of digital photography and the ubiquity of devices with integral cameras. For example, yesterday I took a photo of an address on an envelope with my phone because I was too lazy to write it down. That would have never happened in the old days. Part of me still thinks prolific photography is crazy and wasteful. I wouldn't be surprised if many people of my age or so can relate to this perception. Likewise, photographic frugality may seem astoundingly archaic to people of younger generations.
Where this all leads is to a discovery that the total photographic record of my Trail Runner, a bike that meant enough to me for me to have sought out a similar bike decades later, amounts to perhaps a dozen images, many of which are shown here. Another insight is of time itself, and the realization that something I bought new as a young adult is considered vintage. It's enough to make me feel old. Now where is that hot tub?
|Yes, I still dress remarkably similarly, but most of that hair is long gone.|