From the Ashes: The Story of Petra's Obed Seclud
For Silverton, Oregon Public Works Director Petra Schuetz, it wasn’t the most convenient detour, but with the roads impassable by raging fires, it would have to do. The day was going sideways anyway. With select personal possessions in hand—including her new Obed mountain bike—she turned onto the dirt fireroad, and into several sleepless days of work saving her community. The bumpy ride to the office was the least of her concern.
Little did she know, her bike was on a bumpy ride of its own.
The Beachie Creek Fire went from a spark on Aug. 16, 2020 to a raging fire that would consume 138 acres of rugged terrain deep in the Opal Creek Wilderness. With fire-borne winds up to 75 miles per hour, homes were being threatened—including Schuetz’s own. Yet as Public Worlds Director, she was charged with mobilizing teams to manage infrastructure collapses like power outages due to the elements like freezing weather, downed trees or in this instance, an out-of-control wildfire, ensuring public safety. So, before she would spend a few sleepless nights trying to save her community, she went home—which was now in the fire threat zone and under a Stage 2 Evacuation Order—and grabbed the irreplaceable things to take away in case her home was threatened by the flames. Passports, birth certificates, a few photos—and her new Obed Seclud came with.
She’d only just gotten the bike, a gift from her fiancée Tim Elsea, as an upgrade from her dated old 26-inch steed. “She said ‘if you promise me it’s one gift for the year—for my birthday, Christmas, our dating anniversary, all that—I’ll let you buy me a good mountain bike,” Elsea said. “It was funny—it showed up and I rode it a bit and told her, if you don’t like it, don’t worry I’ll keep it for myself.” She liked it, and was ready to explore the trails with Tim.
But then, the fire.
Petra hurriedly loaded her new ride onto the rack at the back of her car, but the rack—then set up to receive 26” wheels—wasn’t adjusted for the new larger wheels of her Obed. She took off, with the bike unknowingly only half-secured onto the rack. Once she took that dirt road detour to the office, her Seclud bounced up and off the rack. The rear wheel still secure in the rack, the front of the bike bounced and dragged in the dirt behind. It was several miles before Petra noticed, quickly re-racked (and locked down) the bike, and continued on to work.
Once the fire danger had subsided, Schuetz finally had a moment to take a breath, and look at her bike. Beyond the cockpit and fork being scraped against the ground like a cheese grater, the brake levers twisted like the legs of the wicked witch of the west, the frame had taken a few damaging hits as well.
Schuetz was crestfallen. “It was super disappointing,” she said. “I hadn’t really gotten many rides on it.”
“We reached out to Obed, if for no other reason than to source replacement parts," Elsea said. The Obed team was more than concerned, and asked for a few frame photos—then asked to have the frame sent back to them for an inspection. “We ultimately got an email saying they wanted to make things right, and repair the frame and replace the parts. We were blown away,” he said.
The Obed team received the Seclud back and went to work, stripping it down, repairing the frame, replacing bearings and replacing all parts damaged from its impromptu off-road ride. In late February, Obed shipped the bike back to Schuetz….ready to ride.
“To be honest, I was surprised. I didn’t think I deserved that kind of treatment. I just couldn’t believe a bike company would make such a gesture, Schuetz said. “But yeah—I was extremely thrilled.”
Are there rides planned for the coming spring and summer, after the craziness of floods, freezes and fires calm down? You bet. Schuetz and Elsea are planning a wedding in May with a summer honeymoon with their kids. But locally, there’s lots of vacation time stacked up, Schuetz said.
Tim and I ride a lot at Silver Falls State Park,” she said. “My Seclud will get lots of time there for sure—I’m definitely going to get out there and appreciate it as much as I can this spring and summer!”