Goodbye Pilot

RESTON, VIRGINIA

It was December 2006, when I went to buy my first “real” road bike. I was looking for an aluminum bike but eventually had my eyes turn to a carbon fiber bike, the Trek Pilot. But it seemed a little more than I wanted to pay and at first, I did not buy it.

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My inaugural ride with the bike was my “Manassas Loop.” I followed the Prince William Parkway counter-clockwise. When I reached the Coles District Fire Department, about 20 miles. I had a flat. It was not a good start to the Pilot’s career.

At the Tom Simpson Memorial, Mont Ventoux, France

As I understood it, Trek had introduced the Madone, as their racing bike. Although later they would have different models, the Pilot was introduced as their endurance/comfort bike. It was perfect for my riding. It also had a “triple” chainring upfront. This would be the only negative for this bike.

Triple rings were okay for mountain bikes but not so much for road bikes. The front ring was always problematic. Often I had to “feather” it after shifting to make it sound cleaner. Sometimes it would skip shifts. The Shimano-105 Triple was not a good drive train. Occasionally I could expect the chain to come off while pedaling. I got very good pedaling while the chain was wrapped around the pedal and my shoe, and coaxing it back into position without stopping to fix it.

Blue Knob State Park – near Altoona, Pa.

 

I loved the color and style. Rounded tubes and a bright red paint job, the bike stood out. It was sweet looking and I was proud to ride it.

The Agony of Defeat – 2012

This bike took me places. None better than Mount Washinton, New Hampshire. Eight times I went to Mount Washington. I completed seven hill climbs. The first, 07/07/07, was canceled due to dangerous weather.

Mount Washington Auto Road Hill Climb – 2009

It made a perfect climbing bike. We (or my mechanics) would swap out the front ring for a 24t and put a 32t or 34t on the rear. This was after the first year when I did not make any changes to the bike.

Col du Lautaret, France – I got caught in snow here – July 19, 2011

It went to France. I was struggling on the climb up the Col du Tourmalet (who doesn’t?) and on the descent over the top I noticed a wheel wobble. I thought I had a broken spoke, and stopped to tighten them, but in a bike shop in St. Lary, I was told the wheel was cracked. I shouldn’t ride it. But I was in France. I rode it. I made it up Mont Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez with it. Maybe more importantly, I made it down Mont Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez.

Powering up L’Alpe d’Huez

I rode RAGBRAI (Iowa) and Ride the Rockies (Colorado). It was at RTR that I learned a valuable lesson which I follow to this day – “Never put a bike on a car if you can carry it in the car.” In 2013 I drove to Colorado by myself. I had plenty of room in my car for a bike but it looked so cool on top of the car. It was in Wichita, Kansas when I unlocked the front caliper that was holding the bike on the rack and moved to the rear to loosen the safety strap on the rear wheel. A gust of wind pushed the bike over except it was caught in the mount. The drop out at the bottom of the fork bent.

A bike on a car looks so cool

I found a bike shop in Colorado Springs the day before RTR and they replaced the fork with a used one from a Madone. It worked but now I had a red, white, and blue bike for the next three years. I found a company that could repair it and make it look sweet again.

Blue fork on my bike – with a car to match (NH, 2013)

But it was aging and I bought a 2014 Trek Domane to be my primary bike. The Pilot became my back up bike. In 2019 I had the components replaced so it would shift better. But it was never perfect. It was a Pilot with a triple chainring.

The Brand. No, this Bike. Not this Cyclist.

When I got a new Domane earlier this year, I made a decision. I would move (that is, my mechanics would move) the drive train from my 2014 Domane to the Pilot. I would have the only Trek Pilot with Di2 electronic shifting. Because it did not have internal cable routing, we had come up with a mount for the Di2 battery on the frame.

But Tom Szeide called me today with bad news. He was stripping down the frame to move the components to the Pilot and found a major crack in the chainstay. The bike was ruined. And I was sad.

Cracked chainstay

Trek would give me a limited warranty for the frame and I would use it to get the Checkpoint. But I would have preferred to keep and ride the Pilot with the modification of electronic shifting. It was a sweet ride. I estimate that I put 30,000 miles on it. I’m not 100% sure because it was only post-cancer that I have tracked my miles. But I know I rode it about as far as it would last. I just wish it would have lasted longer.

But time to move on. Thanks for the memories!