I grew up riding trails. My first bike was a Nishiki Manitoba with an Acera 7-speed group and canti brakes. From what I recall, my dad and I made several trips to our L.B.S. for adjustments and wheel trues, because I frankly couldn't keep the rubbers in the dirt. I had a proclivity to get air and thrash around. Granted, a rigid, entry-level mountain bike was not the appropriate rig to attempt such endeavors. But somewhere along the way I outgrew the bike and (in hindsight, reluctantly) gave up riding around the time I entered high school. After graduating I bounced a couple of jobs before landing a spot behind the cash register at shop the next town over from mine. I had a car at the time but no bike that fit me. A lot of my co-workers were commuting via bicycle which immediately gave me some direction and inspiration. I began tinkering on a project or two, one being a Specialized Hardrock that was also too small for me. I outgrew that and began building up a GT Rave which was too big for me! Nothing seemed to fit. I found a calling though, through growing familiar with the mountain bikes that this shop sold, and threw down on a Rocky Mountain Slayer. This would be the bike, I thought. Surely, it was all I wanted out of a ride. An all-mountain rig, by nature, it could handle just about anything I threw its way. However, a few years after living in this city was enough to realize that owning a vehicle was difficult and at times - simply not worth it. The riding for that kind of bike in fact warranted owning a car to be able to get to the right trails. But did I really want to drive everytime I wanted to ride? Well, no, and sometime in 2008 I got rid of my car, leaving my offroad rig lonely for a partner.
Then along came this opportunity to jump on an Independent Fabrication Steel Deluxe. The previous owner had several bikes, and more than one child, so this frame was virtually babied before it came my way. Funny to think how I had made this full circle from riding a rigid mtb. as a kid, straight to a full-suspension platform in my late teens and early twenties, then back to a hardtail. The only thing original is that Syncros seatpost pictured above. I made significant upgrades, although I sometimes wish I still owned the anodized red Race Face cranks that were once on there.
In my two-to-three years with this frame, it's never seen a suspension fork. I kept one under my bench for a while as I danced with the idea of doing the Downieville event, but that never came to fruition. And I'm glad I've kept this thing the way it is. The Indy Fab model is such a joy to ride. It gave the bug to race my first Soil Saloon.
With it I earned my first podium spot at the Bike Monkey series at Lake Sonoma. It's one of the bikes I feel so close to I cannot fathom every moving it along and finding something else. It's here to stay. While the hardtail is not my go-to ride or my everyday thing, things would not be the same without it.