“My Jake the Snake has changed my life. I’ve seen things I’d thought I’d never see. I’ve done things I never thought I’d be ale to do. I’ve traveled thousands of miles without spending a penny on gas and made great friends along the way. My Jake is truly the best investment that I’ve ever made. The only other thing that I’ve bought the comes close to my JTS is my hammock and I try to get them together as much as possible.”
This story comes to us through Angi “Sparky” Weston, submitted by Michael Dishman, who, in great, detailed prose, tells us just how far his Jake the Snake has taken him.
It’s a cold rainy day in Silver springs MD. I’m off work today and all I want to do is some cyclocross training on my Jake the Snake. But I can’t. I had to take my my JTS into the bike shop for and emergency chainectomy yesterday. There going to keep it for the week to replace the chain, front two gears and check the bottom bracket and a slight wheel true. I tried to race 3 cross races in the last 2 weeks and the chain has broke off within the first 3 mins of all 3 races. I have no problem taking the bike in for a repair. With time away from my bike I’ve had time to think about what I’ve done and why the bike is being fixed. This is why. (Sorry for being so long)
I recently converted my JTS to a double speed. I was using the original two front rings and took apart my rear cassette for single cog in the back. I use the paul melvin as a chain tensioner. I don’t own a car so my JTS is my main source of transportation. I like the double speed for having road gear, and a off road gear. Before my chain started breaking here’s what the bike went through to finally need repairs.
I bought my JTS in 2008. It’s the sexy blue one with white and yellow. When I first got it, it was for commuting around and I wanted to give Cyclocross a try. Even if I didn’t like Cross I still wanted the bike. My best friend had one and after a couple of weeks of begging he let me take it out for a ride on the katy trail for a day. All I had to do was mow his yard for a few weeks and clean his house one time. It was worth all the work. My plan was to do a 30 mile but it turned into a 93 mile ride. It was love at first ride. I bought my bike a week before cross season started and signed up for the first race in Lenexa KS. The second I parked at the race site I met a family of Triathletes doing there first cross race as well. I’m a tri geek so we hit it off pretty good. Being triathletes we thought we’d walk home with all awards because we were in such good shape. We were wrong. We were closer to last than first. We didn’t care. All we could talk about was how hard and fun it was. From there we were hooked. The next week there were 2 more races that we all entered. Then 2 more the next week. By now the racing family known as TR-Fam Racing had adopted me into there family. When the cyclocross season was said and done we ended up racing around 15 races together. This family consisting of Mom, dad, and son and a few home town friends would load up in the Tri-Fam Van and race almost every weekend. They’d do Tri’s, Du’s, Mountain biking, 5k’s, adventure racing and whatever else they could find. There motto is “The Family That Plays Together, Stays Together”. The winter was there short time off but now its cyclocross every weekend. These people aren’t related to me by blood but I do consider them my family. Their some of the best people I’ve ever met. Blood may be thicker than water but Lactic Acid flows through our blood and that’s what brings us together. It’s because of your bike that I met these people. I can’t thank you enough for making the JTS.
That’s the first few months of my JTS life. The next few months were mostly for commuting to work, trails or just riding with friends. Nothing too extraordinary just a lot of fun on 2 wheels. It was now the 2009 tri season and I was mostly on my tri bike. Halfway through the season I found myself skipping speed work outs and doing cyclocross rides to change up my routine so I wouldn’t get bored of training. Before I knew it I was almost always on the JTS and watching cross videos on youtube. This is where the JTS would once again do something to change my life. I watched videos of the cross scene in Washington and Oregon. I want to be apart of that. I didn’t have a lot of money so I didn’t know how I could go out and be apart of that. Finally I said fuck it and bought a one way ticket to Seattle. The JTS had rack mounts so I could tour and race on the same bike. Before it was time to leave I did 2 cross races in Kansas City with my racing family and then loaded the bike in big screen tv box, used clothes as packing material and panniers for suit cases and flew to Seattle. I was now representing the TriFam as the northwest chapter. I landed around 11pm. I put my bike together in the airport. I didn’t know anyone in Northwest and only had enough money to buy cheap food and cross race entry fees so instead of getting a hotel room, I slept in the airport until the rent cop who worked there kicked me out at 6am. From there I explored the city and camped in parks or behind buildings or any place that was out of site out of mind. After 3 days I did my first cross race. It was called Crosstober fest. It was super fun. While asking for directions to the race the next day a couple said they’d give me a ride and I could crash with them. After the next race I road around the Olympic Mountains and camped out on the beach for a few nights. I then raced the first boarder wars race at Lakewood and then hitched a ride to Rainer OR for the second boarder wars race. From there I raced twice every weekend. I’d ride to all the events, convert the JTS by taking all the racks, lights and water bottle cages off. Race on the same wheel and tires that came with the bike then load up and head out to the next race. I ended up racing in most of the Cross Crusades, a Wednesday night cross series, I did a century to Eugene OR to do a race in the Psycho-Cross series then hitched a ride back to Portland to race another Cross Crusade race the next day. It was like that all the time. Racing, riding to camp out at the race site, help build the race course, tear down the race course. The race directors would usually give me a free race for helping out. Which helped me out because I was almost out of money. One week I ended up staying with a former pro marathon runner and worked at his sports bar. I told him I’d work for food which I did. Why work for money when I’m only going to spend it on food? When I had only enough money to buy a plane ticket home Brad Ross of the Cross Crusades gave me a check for $150 for helping out at all the races. I would have helped regardless, just because I enjoy that kind of stuff. Now that I had more money, everyone told me I had to stay out for the Halloween race. I rode the Oregon cost line to Astoria where I had one of the greatest times of my life. I got to camp out with tons of other racers, drink good beer, race in a bikini, tera and spd compatible high heels (yes, they worked and took a long time to make). Also along the way to Astoria I met a hot Brazilian lady in a book club meeting that I kind of stumbled into. I took 5 days off from touring to stay with her. We all need breaks sometimes. After the halloween race Brad gave me another check which meant I could stay for the Single Speed World Championships. The only thing I have to say about that, is it was one of the craziest things I’ve ever been apart of. I can’t even explain it to my friends. My explanation wouldn’t do it any justice. After that race I had to leave. Not because I wanted to but because my family was doing a early Thanksgiving at my sisters in Maryland. If I had it my way I would have stayed out in the Northwest permanently. I knew no one when I flew out there and now I know tons of people. I met so may great people who made this 27 year old who lived in a small farm town in Missouri feel accepted in a place i’d never been to. From Team Beer letting me hangout with them at there tent durning the race, to your rider Erik Tonkin offering me a place to stay after only talking to me for a couple of minutes of meeting me. So instead of flying back home to Missouri I boxed up my JTS and flew out to the east coast. So once again Thank you so much for making such an incredible bike. That was truly the greatest time of my life and your bike was there with me every pedal stroke of the way.
With that part down it’s time to fast forward to the present. After flying to Maryland, one of my teenage nephews was having some medical problems and my sister being a single mom couldn’t handle everything by herself so I told her I’d stay and help her out as long as she needed. I was able to get 3 more cross races in out east. Not a bad cross season. I was able to race in Kansas, Missouri, Washington, Oregon, Maryland and Virginia with no real planning. You could say I’m a pro cat 4. I stayed in Maryland to play the role of Uncle Jessie from Full House and help take care of my nephews. I went back to Missouri in the summer to get my tri-bikes and race in a few free triathlons that I won. Plus I had to go do a couple of races with the Tri-Fam. They were the main reason for going back. While back in Missouri my buddy hurt his knee so he couldn’t ride his JTS so I took it to take care of my withdraws from not having my bike with me (I left it in MD). Now that I’m back in Maryland I have a job 11 miles from my house that I ride to five to six time a week. My weekly commute for work is around 120 miles with panniers on then another 20 to 50 miles that are training or just running around. I can’t afford a car and to be honest I don’t want one. Now that cross season is here I decided that i’m going to ride to all the races like I did out west. The third race I did I took off at midnight and rode 30 miles to the race site to sleep in my hammock. At 3 minutes into my race my chain broke off. You’d think I would have been mad but they had free beer and waffles so I was fine. Plus the ride to the race site was amazing because of the full moon. Out of 60 plus races this was my first DNF. It had to happen sometime. I thought I fixed my chain. It worked for another week of commuting to work. The race this week was 70 miles away. So my plan was to get off work at 2pm ride to the race site. Camp out in my hammock and race the first race in the morning at nine. Drink a beer then start the ride home so I could make it to work at 5pm. It turned into me riding 30 miles in a 46/16 gearing into 20-30mph straight headwind on a hilly route with panniers full of gear, then switching to a 36/16 gearing for the next 40 miles to finish up the ride. I camped out in a hammock with temps in the upper 40’s. Converted my bike to race mode, did a warm up lap and got in line to start the race. 1 second into the race my chain broke again as well as the strap to my shoe. Instead of getting mad I laughed. The race director said I could do the 3/4 because I didn’t get to race. I fixed the chain again, wrapped my shoe in electrical tape to keep my shoe on and waited for the next race. Now that I was racing later I would have to leave as soon as the race was over and haul ass to get back for work. The start went well . I was starting to pass riders when at a half mile in my chain broke again. I didn’t get mad. It was really hard not to but I stayed calm. I fixed once again. A racer I met a few weeks earlier said he could give me a ride part way. He dropped me off about 30 miles from work. As I rode up steep hills I’d hear my chain pop and I’d have to get off and tighten it. I ended up making it to work with 15 minutes to spare. After work I got a ride within 4 miles of my house. After a weekend like that you’d think i’d be bitter about everything. I’m not. Even though I didn’t get to race 3 different times I still got to go out and ride all over the country side in areas that i’ve never been in, on a bike that I absolutely love. My JTS has changed my life. I’ve seen things I’d thought I’d never see. I’ve done things I never thought I’d be ale to do. I’ve traveled thousands of miles without spending a penny on gas and made great friends along the way. My Jake is truly the best investment that I’ve ever made. The only other thing that I’ve bought the comes close to my JTS is my hammock and I try to get them together as much as possible.
You guys have built the perfect bike. Up until now my bike was completely stock. The only thing I changed were tires when It was really really muddy. It took the story above and other little stories I didn’t write about to finally make me have to start replacing components. Not too bad for 3 years of hard riding, racing, touring, and just cruising around. I know I could have done everything on a different brand of cross bike but there is something about the Jake the Snake that stands out. I don’t know if it’s the name, the color scheme but something about it made me want to get one. For a long time I only looked at Triathlon bikes and hated road bikes. Now I have trouble getting on the TT bike because I can’t bunny hop a dead squirrel in the middle of the road or go off road as a short cut around traffic. If it wasn’t for your bike, I may have never got to do the things I’ve done or meet the racing family that I consider to be just as much family as my real family. I have a journal with stories from my JTS and once my bike is fixed I plan on filling my new journal, full of stories that my Jake The Snake takes me on. I’ve thought about going across the US, or even doing what I call a Triathlon tour where I have my Tri-Bike on a trailer and tow it with my JTS to different races around the country. I’m not sure what I’ll do, but all I know is I’ll have fun when I do it.
Thank you again for the awesome memories,
P.S. I don’t know if there is a race like this out there but I’d like to see it happen. I call it the TRi-Cycle Race. Start off with a 30 min cross race, run through a Transition area and grab a TT/ Road bike and do a 30 Time Trail. Then run through the Transition area to grab a mountain bike for a 30 min Mountain bike circuit. Have 3 disciplines off cycling but make it to where you can do it on 3 different bikes or on a cross bike. Who knows. It could be big.