Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bike Junkie, v2

How'd I get here?

The journey started on a training wheeled, banana seated, "girls" bike from some family friends. We will skip the trifles before that about big wheels. Mom would tell a tale when I came home from school after realizing (way too late) that all the other kids had long since removed their training wheels. "Your Dad will be home in a little while?".. "No Mom, I want the training wheels off now." Hopefully, I was more respectful to my Mom than that. I wasn't normally very outspoken. By the time the day was done, I'm sure I skinned a knee or two. Low and behold I lived. I learned to ride. Bike Junkie was born.

From there I upgraded to a 100 dollar, (probably 100 pound) smallest 10 speed made by Schwinn. Oh how I loved that bike. I raced my big brother. I ran it into the back of a parked car while trying to learn to shift. It took quite a beating for me.

Once that bike got small (It lasted years), I upgraded to a full sized model. Beacon Coronet as I recall, was the name of this new big bike. Dark blue. I rode it all over town. Down to the beach. Half way to some older girl's house when I got a flat and carried it home.. (must have been a sign).

My Dad had a powder blue Viscount. Eventually I inherited that for a while to ride around school.

Then, mountain biking was becoming somewhat more popular. I got a larger than life (22" frame) , rigid frame/fork, Giant Iguana. I took that to some local trails with the gang. A time or two around there and I was done.. My buddy let me ride his newer, lighter, smaller, specialized stump jumper. It was then clear to me that I was not experiencing anywhere near the same ride as he was. And his easy ascent on certain climbs became less of a mystery. A search for better equipment was a must.

Who knows how much time past, but I eventually found a very slightly used Giant ATX 780 with double butted steel frame and Rock Shox Mag21. In the early years that bike saw Sedona, Moab/Slickrock, Marquette Michigan, and Mackinac Island. All those great destinations thanks to my lovely wife. I still have that bike today. In more recent years, it's seen a single (what was I thinking?) WORS race, and much child pulling duty around town. And of course the other day, I did try to follow some tracks in the snow made by some folks who know more about how to mountain bike than I ever forgot.

I must have been frequenting a bike store or two once in a while (I never could stay away from them, even when I didn't need a bike or bike stuff). I vaguely recall seeing triathlon bicycles and thinking I should figure out what sport you have to do to need one. Of course, at the time it was just shy of a day dream.

Onward to my first "road bike". The previous ones I considered "10 speeds", if that makes much sense. GT made a nice (cheap) ZR4000 that I picked up. My wife got the steel one. I tossed on some clip-less pedals and was ready to rock. Add to that my first triathlon book, fuel in the form of a healthy amount of skepticism from my wife, some run shoes, a gym membership, and I was ready to go.

Skip ahead past a year or so of triathlons. I'm in it for the haul.. I was (am) slow, had (have) tons of room for improvement, and loving it. Time for a wicked fast triathlon bike (or at least a triathlon bike that's not stupid expensive).. At the time, Cervelo made the One as a triathlon bike (now it looks like a road bike with clip-ons). It was a reasonable price and got me aerodynamic! It never hurts to have additional bikes too.

A year or two on that, and I was ready for some upgrading. A "set of new components" for my road bike soon became a new bike. I think the paint is chipping or I have a crack or something.. I headed down to a recommended LBS and got a GREAT deal on an all Reynolds 853 steel frame made by Schwinn (see 1st bike). I ended up using the wheels and brakes from that GT and built up the Schwinn with Ultegra components. What fun! I probably didn't end up saving much cash once I bought tools and "learned" a few things, but I got to build the bike. That's my current "road bike".

Still there is a quest for more.. I had a hankering for something different. Something simple. Maybe something a bit cooler than I am. So I started looking into a reasonable fixed gear bike. Then I saw another. Then I started really noticing them all over. Some had flavor. Some were from Cali. Then there was a local option. It turns out when I was getting fixed gear fever, the local bike store guys were just talking about that Milwaukee One fixed gear bike. The were trying out a few different things.. and while Langsters were cheaper, these were the local boys putting together something sweet. I'll cut out the parts about my sleepless nights and all the whining... Fast forward to my birthday that year.. Mom and my wife went together to go big for my b-day.. Woo Hoo! I love riding that thing. I know I had tons of miles on it in the first 2-3 months I owned it, and my birthday is in December in Wisconsin. See rule #1, buying bike stuff only helps you if you ride. If you ride more, it was worth the money.

Since then, I turned the fixed gear into even yet another bike. I picked up some Panaracer Crossblasters and flipped over the rear wheel to the freewheel side. Then, I twice got brave and raced CX races on it. When I asked for gear advice, some guy told me he had no problems racing in 42x16. Of course everyone else at the race seemed to think I was nuts and were looking for my insane tree trunk legs.. Oh well, ride what you brung. Note to future slow single speed CX racers.. Don't ask for gearing advice from people that are faster than you. R. Tool Shed, I take full responsibility for asking and accepting the answer. This notion probably also applies to all those "What cassette should I use for Ironman Wisconsin?" posters too. In defense of said advisor, if I had been going fast enough to keep up, it probably was the proper gear.

Now what better excuse can I have to lust after a decent geared CX bike for next year?? The saga continues.. Oh the memories.

My long drawn out post wouldn't be a long drawn out JWM post without a list. Here are a few reasons to be a bike junkie...

  1. Because they are mechanically simple.. try fixing your car without a computer if it was made in the last decade.
  2. Quiet please. That ride in the snow the other day just accentuated the fact. There is nothing like a quiet bike ride.
  3. Bikes are "cheap". Sure nothing is free. But if your idol is Lance (if), you can ride exactly what he rides for $5000. Yeah, it's real money, but compare to those who has a NASCAR idol. See also planes, trains, or yachts. It's cheap transportation. OK, runners can stay quiet right now.
  4. My Grandpa biked. My Dad biked. I bike.
If you made it this far.. Thanks for listening!


Triteacher said...

Sounds like a lot of rationalization to me... ;)

Interesting how you can remember all those bike details; I certainly couldn't trace my lineage like that. It WAS early on that you became hooked.

And tell your wife to keep up the good work. (Tee, hee.)

jwm said...

I never mentioned I was 25 when I noticed no one else had training wheels. :)