By Lex, on Sat – April 30, 2005
So, I’m in the market for a new bike.
Bicycle that is. And today, I went shopping.
Used to ride a lot back in the day. Weekly mileages were in the realm of 140-150. Commuted to work back and forth, and a long ride on the weekend. That sort of thing.
Bike riding is a charm, in that, rewarding the effort you put forth? The scenery actually changes. Oh, it’s true that the scenery changes on a long run, too. But it happens much more gradually, and at much greater expense of effort.
Biking has good sides and bad sides, like everything I guess. In the good category, I’ve already touched on watching the world go by. It’s low impact too, an issue that becomes more and more important as the underlying support infrastructure starts to age. You can conveniently carry your water with you as you go, so long, multi-hour workouts are more feasible. And truly, there’s very little in the world so very well designed for its purpose as is a road bike. In terms of turning human energy into miles down range, it’s hard to imagine a better system.
The down sides? There are freaks on the road, and at the speeds you’re going, you could get seriously hurt. Even without outside interference, it’s not unknown for bicyclists to fall and injure themselves – much more severely than your average trip and stumble might cost you on a run. Few of us can run fast enough to more than inconvenience ourselves by mischance. Also, there’s a lot of gearing up for a bike ride – shoes and cleats, shorts and shirt, helmet and sunglasses. And all of that before you get to the bike itself. Once there, it’s nearly inevitable that one or both of the wheels will need a few throws on the tire pump. And finally, there’s this – how do I say it? Well – here it is: Long hours in the saddle can pressurize a nerve in the nether regions that can leave the wedding tackle feeling strangely non-responsive. Each time this happens, there is a moment or two’s terror that the sensation (or lack thereof) might be finally irreversible. That this might be it. The big one. The End.
Lance had prostate cancer, you may remember. Almost killed him. I’m just saying.
In running, half the struggle is merely lacing up the shoes. Biking has more overhead.
But moderation in all things, nu? And the scenery here can be so beautiful.
Technology has moved along so far since last I spent any significant time in the saddle, and prices have raced to keep up. I had a perfectly respectable chro-moly bike back in 1990 that simply will not do right now, for so many reasons. One of which, to be fair to the bike, has to do with gross weight.
Not the bike’s weight. Mine.
And chro-moly starts to flex over time, the old bike has over 10,000 miles on it – it gets to where much of your legs’ energy is transmitted to frame flex and squeaking sounds rather than moving the partnership down range. Which is frustrating. Carbon frames, a ridiculous novelty the last time I was training for races, were ludicrously expensive. Right now, I can’t tell if the prices have come down, or whether a inflation and augmented wage earning over the years have made what was previously ridiculous seem eminently sensible. Some combination of the two, perhaps.
In any case I rode three carbon bikes, two with Shimano Ultegra set-ups and one with a hybrid of Dura Ace and Ultegra (I love Campagnolo, but can’t justify the extra expense).
And fell in love.
The Trek Madone 5.2 * . This bike is so freaking sweet – it’s like a living thing underneath you, one that reacts to your inputs almost before you realize you’ve made them. Give it the spur and it reacts like it wants to beat you to the finish – like you’d better hold on tighter. Hit a tight turn and it only asks for a line and a firm hand. Climbing is a dream, both in the saddle and out, and although I only spent a half-hour on it, the last part a long hard climb back up to the bike store, I turned it back in like I was giving away one of my kids. I’ve never thrown a leg over anything like it before, and I have to have it. The other bikes were fine, great, OK. This one was The Bike. It’s lust, is what it is.
But I walked away, because you know what? It’s pretty dern expensive, and I’m no Lance Armstrong, so who the heck am I kidding? Plus, I decided long ago that anything that came with a price tag which brought the blood to my face needed to be slept over. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m sleeping over it.
But I’m thinking? This is going to sting.
*07-08-18 Original link gone – replaced – Ed.