This is less of a serious, hard hitting piece of journalism but more of a softly nostalgic tribute to a good friend. My Hard Rock Pro Disc was my first real mountain bike and the bike that transformed me from a fat nerd into a slimmer nerd.
I bought it from eBay, which was where most of my possessions were sourced at that period in my life. It cost £400, half of which I paid from my summer earnings, the other half of which my father contributed.
It has seen a lot of action, in a variety of roles. For the first two years of its life it was used for commuting daily to school, a 12 mile round trip. It was also mainly used for road riding, as Phil can probably attest. We used to think our bikes were so fast :-).
Of course, that's not to say we didn't take it off road. Phil, Dave and I went to our local riding ground, Aston Hill, several times. It was amazing fun.
Unfortunately though, fate was not with me - when riding the Hard Rock, I have dislocated my right shoulder once, broken my left arm once and broken my right hand thumb. The latter two were off-road. But shit happens, eh?
It really took off when I came to Cambridge and got involved with the university cycling club. Not having a suitable budget to buy a better mountain bike, we laboured over all sorts of terrain from a flat muddy cyclocross track to the rocky descents in the Peak District. It slowly became more and more ill as a result of poor maintainance (on my part) and general abuse. It was finally retired from service when I was able to upgrade to the Stumpjumper.
Notice how in the photo above it lacks a rear deraileur. When I finally got around to trying to get it repaired at my local bike shop, they quoted a vast amount of money (indeed, more than its actual worth - at £120 to repair it).
After changing their mind several times about whether it was worth repairing the bike over the course of 3 weeks, they decided to repair it. When I called a week later to inquire about picking it up, they told me it had been stolen. This was a source of immense annoyance to myself - not because of the financial loss I incurred (in fact, I gained because they compensated me adequately) but because of the loss of my first real mountain bike.
It was stolen before being repaired, so the moronic thieves who stole it based on its shinyness have probably abandoned it. This was not a fitting end for such a loyal and trustworthy companion (if such things can be said of a bicycle). It achieved much in its lifetime - that will be remembered.