I've always liked Paragon/Boone Mountain because its got a hometown feel that exudes quality and community. I also like other brands that do that; more to come below.
A few years later, I became one of the coolest people I knew. Not only was I a middle schooler (everyone in this age-group self-identifies as "cool"), but I also had a new bike. And it had shocks. The "new" ride was actually my dad's old Specialized Hard Rock, and I spent every cent I had--plus a few weeks of loaned allowance--at Paragon to get the rigid fork changed out for a new one. And, unlike the forks on any of my friends' bikes, this one compressed when you hit a bump. The removable, foam bumpers were sweet, and the adjustability therein (different colors of foam for different stiffness levels) made for what was sure to be the smoothest ride that could--or would--ever be had on Evergreen Mountain. I paid extra to add grip-shifts, which I was sure would be usable for the remainder of my life.
We rode hard that summer. Trips to Evergreen Lake. 3 for $1 hot dogs at Stop 'n Save. Fishing rods attached to bikes, and not a care in the world. Most of it was fun, but we also raced at Three Sisters, Evergreen Mountain, and Bergen Peak. Every time I ride up Evergreen Mountain, even now, a nice thought pops into my head when I think about my friend, Erik, telling me that a particular switchback marks one-third of the way to the summit. I thought I was going to die that first time up, and now I'm barely warmed up at that point.
Back to the bike. Did I care that the frame was made of steel and weighed almost as much as I did? Nope. Did I long for tubeless tires and rear suspension? What? Why would I need even more suspension? Did I pretend the 21" frame fit me even though I was 5'6"? Heck yeah! Did my dad ignore the fact that he would not have grandchildren if I slid off the seat an onto the cross bar? I guess so. Must have been part of the "mental training" regimen he had me on.
A rough count in my head reveals that my sweet middle school ride with bumper-shocks was somewhere around 13 bikes ago. I've had some good ones. I've had some bad ones. And I've had some great ones with excellent memories of racing, traveling, suffering, and celebrating.
After two days on the Yeti ASR-Carbon, I think I might now have the best one yet.
Thankfully, biking is just as fun now as it was then.
Thankfully, some companies still work to intentionally maintain a hometown, high-quality feel.
Thankfully, I've gotten more "sweet bike" comments in the last two days than anytime since my new shocks were installed.
Thankfully, the view from the top of Evergreen Mountain is still worth stopping for.
Thankfully, most of all, the frame shape on this bike will decrease concerns about the passing of the family name when I give it to my son when he's still way too small for it.