Recently, I had someone stumble across an old post about my Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen being for sale. She was wondering if I'd sold it, which rolled into a brief conversation about whether or not I still preferred the Sam Hillborne over the Homer. My response to her was something along the lines that if I had it to do over again, I'd probably have kept the Homer and sold the Hillborne, simply because the top tube is shorter on the Homer and I always seem to struggle with reach - particularly when trying to get the handlebars at a lower position. The Homer could easily have been built up in exactly the same way as the Hillborne, but would've allowed a bit more flexibility with positioning. This is the curse of being made shorter-than-average, and is never more true than when trying to find a good fit on a bicycle.
At the time of the sale, the only thing I could view the Homer fulfilling in the bike fold was my heavier road bike and because I had a road bike that was meeting my needs, the logical-to-me response for that moment was to sell off the Homer and keep the Hillborne. Had I thought it through, I could've built the Homer frame up in exactly the same way and had a shorter reach. But, alas, that idea didn't occur until many months after the sale.
|I giggle a bit now looking at this photo and realizing that the brakes/hoods were in the wrong place completely... of course, I am sure I did this because I couldn't reach them if they were where they should've been.|
The idea of selling the Hillborne was brought up a second time in the not-too-distant past as I pondered the idea of selling it off to help fund other efforts. My initial response to the idea was to seriously consider it. I asked myself if it was a necessary bicycle in the fold and I came to the conclusion that I would be willing to give it up. During this time of reflection, I quickly found myself hesitating with the sale. I use this bike a lot and I've made some mistakes in the past selling a bike that I enjoyed, so instead, I decided it was time to play with the set up and see if I truly was ready to let it go. I wanted to ride it on some longer distances again. If I was able to do that and still wanted to give it up, I would let it go, but if I was unsure or hesitating, I would keep the Hillborne.
maybe it wouldn't work because of its smaller top tube at one point).
As I rode, it was hard not to think about all the transformation this bike has gone through. I expected a lot of it when it first came into my life, and in some sense, I recall being disappointed. Riding with drop bars was an impossibility, even though I attempted it several times. Saddles were changed almost too many times to count. Stems were exchanged as I attempted to fix reach issues. I couldn't decide what this bike was supposed to be for me and how it was supposed to fit in, but through it all, I kept riding, discovering the things that I loved and the things that I might change if it had been made specifically for me.
The idea of this heavy, slower bicycle was no longer appealing, but I realized I had done all of this to the bike. Lightening the load and switching its usefulness was just the rejuvenation I needed. It seemed in many ways like a new bike, but still had that familiar feel. The bumps don't hurt like they do on a lightweight bike. The wide tires are perfect to take it on dirt or gravel rides when the need or want arises. The magic has somehow returned in our relationship.
Whether our relationship works because of the designer or because of its flexibility (or both), I will leave that up to someone else to determine. I think little has to do with the brand itself and more with the reality that I, for whatever reason, have always had the patience with this particular bicycle to work through our issues, and that hasn't always been the case with other bicycles. There was an immediate level of comfort - on an emotional level - with this bike, and I suppose that helped spur on the adaptations to help it not only stick around, but get so many miles of use.
Although I do still enjoy having a lighter weight road bike to use, and I can't say that I won't have something faster for road rides or a bike that's slower or heavier for tooling around town, there is something special about the connection I have with the Hillborne. Like a human relationship, we've shared good times and bad, we've had our fights and make-ups (okay, maybe I was the only one actually fighting), and we've each grown and/or changed over the years together. I know that I really love this bike though and am grateful to have a bicycle that I can always count on. It's taken time to understand what our relationship is and how it works best, but it was well worth the effort to arrive at this point.