In 1988, at a shop down the hill from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, I bought my first real road bicycle: a red and white 1987 Bridgstone RB-2 on closeout. 1988 was the year I fell in love with road bicycles. I imagined myself as Dave Stoller, the protagonist in the movie Breaking Away. I rode that simple, light, RB-2 bike everywhere–peddling to class, to work, to see my then-girlfriend, now-spouse. I was young and rail-thin, which for once in my life turned out to be an athletic advantage. I began turning wrenches at the tiny shop, Highlander Bicycle, where I had purchased the Bridgestone and hung out so much they decided they may as well hire me. That bike was really nothing special—just a red and white bike Japanese steel bicycle fitted with middle of the road Shimano 105 components.
What imbued that humble RB-2 with magic was how much I used it. I climbed the local canyons with relish and crested mountain passes beside melting glaciers. On this RB-2, I learned to ride with groups, and how to behave in pelotons and pacelines. Not knowing any better, I entered century rides and distance races, including the 207 mile Lo-to-Ja (Logan Utah to Jackson Hole, Wyoming). I used that bike like a tool, without worry. It was my freedom machine to escape the academic, religious, and social pressures of BYU. When I was riding that red and white RB, I didn’t feel like a doubting Mormon, a lovesick boyfriend, or a rebellious student. I just felt blissfully alive.