Thursday, October 1, 2009

I broke down!

Riding with cycling clubs is a good thing because it enables you to discover new areas and ride beyond the familiar, but it is also a bad thing because inevitably the talk will turn to the latest and greatest advancement in bicycles, particular the lightweight bikes. For many years I scoffed at the shiny, painfully uncomfortable and expensive pieces of machinery known as road bikes. They did not have fenders, so you get wet, you cant mount a rack so you can't carry anything, the tires are so skinny that if you hit gravel, you wipe out. I had resolved that road bikes were useless.

I ride a salsa casserole which is a lightweight touring bike. I resisted all talk of lighter bikes until I had my casserole fitted by Mary Patterson. I asked Mary if a lighter bike makes any difference at all, or is it more a function of the riders weight. Since Mary was not in my bike club, and was not going to sell me a bike, I thought her opinion would surely confirm mine, that the weight of a bike makes little difference. To my chagrin, she commented that indeed bike weight does make a very big difference. Even when I pointed out that the greatest source of weight for my bike is me, she still convinced me that a lighter bike is more responsive and faster and hence less tiring on long distances.

My casserole, when loaded is by no means a flyweight, in fighting form, it is a welterweight.

Today, I broke down and purchased, on sale, a beautiful Devinci CX2 carbon road bike. The good thing about carbon is that even if I wanted to put fenders on it, or racks you cannot mount anything on it. I even purchased time pedals and time clips, forever renouncing my hitherto fearful trepidation of things that clip and hold your feet while you ride, and presumably are easy to release. After a few embarrassing and painful falls as a result of SPD clips, which are supposed to be very easy clips, it took a while to convince me. I told Doug at Kunstaadt sports that I really required klutz proof clips!

My new road bike is equipped with my old brooks saddle. I have a new brown brooks saddle on my casserole. I decided that getting used to a new bike would be enough of a challenge without breaking in a new saddle.

I discovered that Tall Trees Cycles sells a beautiful leather handlebar tape. There is nothing worse than the feel of that horrible cork-like, plastic, gaudy spongy tape that purports to be handlebar wrap. There is nothing nicer than the feel of leather.

I am proud to say that it took an entire season of some nearly 5000km of bike riding before I broke down and purchased a faster bike.

My casserole bike is like a trusted station wagon. You can load it up and it will take you anywhere. It is comfortable and sports a few scratches, so I don't worry about new scratches, much like an old car. My first love of biking will always be bike touring, where you load up your bike with a picnic blanket, a camera, binoculars, a book and a splendid lunch for a days outing but there are times when the siren song of a sports car, or in this case a light weight carbon road bike, is simply too much to resist.

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