Anyway. I picked it up at the shop (one of those REAL bike shops that's a little worn around the edges from use) and one of the folks there commented: "Oh wow. That's 'old school'."
To which I replied: "What? The tires? I've always had a soft spot for Smokes." Even in college I caught flak for riding "those old-fashioned heavy things".
"No. The bike. Look at that Headshok. How old is that?"
"What? It's a 2001," I replied, just a teensy bit indignantly. Two of my four bikes are from 1989 and 1994.
"That's old. I have a 2004 and these guys tell me it's old."
Then we chatted about my totally retro drop bar. On an MTB. I was totally channeling Jacquie Phelen's spirit. (She's not dead yet!!)
Zonks! There's something fundamental there. An attitude revealed? Or just a friendly dig? I don't know. But I'm still a little uneasy thinking of bicycles as having lifespans similar to computers or any other electronic gadget. To me they don't. Or they shouldn't have. However, the cursed suspension technologies and electronic shifters DO rapidly date a bicycle. They stop working as well. The manufacturer stops making that particular component. Replacement parts become hard to find.
But my other three bike won't fall prey to the slings and arrows of technological obsolescence. No suspension. The 1989 Stumpjumper, once a 7-speed is now a singlespeed. The 1994 Cannondale road bike might not be far behind. I only have one HG-70 7-speed cassette left. Then what? Maybe I'll try some inexpensive Taiwanese cassette. If they're even available.
Even so it'll never be sidelined because some o-ring seal, or piston valve is no longer manufactured.
*No. I did NOT engage in self-service this time around. Despite what my initial post may have stated. I DID knock out the top bearing, which was rusty, and flush it and repack it with grease. And I made my own tool out of a piece of pipe from Home Depot. I can now remove and re-install the fork at will. Booyah.