Monday, October 06, 2008

Happy Birthday to me... Two whole weeks early...

Vicky spoils me - but I don't mind.

Yesterday, we went out looking at bikes. The intent was not to buy - but you know how that works, right? Seriously, why the hell look?

Our first stop was Jax, a southern California chain. We walked in, it was nicely laid out, not crowded or overrun... with help or service... In fact, no one even spoke to us. On top of that, they appeared to sell only one brand of bike, Trek, which I've read a few less than flattering things about. Out we walked...

After that, we went right to Orange Cycle. This place is right by the Orange Circle and although they're always busy there is a reason for that. Bottom line is they're a good shop and they know their stuff. Vicky and I have brought both of our bikes down there. My bike got a cheapo tune-up - they don't throw in stuff you don't need - and I got set up with some lights and a cycling computer. I also got my kevlars there; they just slapped them right on. Vicky's bike got a cheapo tune-up, too. They didn't charge her much; her bike was in pretty good shape. You have to wait a bit but that's because everyone brings their bike there; I'd worry if they weren't busy.

So, when we went in they were busy, as expected. Al, one of the guys, came right up to us though, and asked, "What do you need?" Now, listen, I've been reading a lot of stuff on bikes but I'm still basically a novice. I gave him our price range, told him what kind of riding I was going to be doing, what kind I've done, what I'm presently riding - and just like that, bam, he found one for me. It was over $100 below my limit but it had more features than I thought I'd be able to afford. I asked him if I could take it out for a test and he said, "Sure. Let's go." They're no-nonsense attitude works well because they're not gonna waste your time, either.

Outside, we were put in Zak's hands. He fitted the bike for me. We talked about the different kind of riding I should expect and he said, "Take it around the block and tell me what you think." Allrighty, then. Off I went. Now, the bike that has served me so well for these past seven years is a 15 year-old mountain bike. Heavy with kevlar tires that make it more heavy - so this new one took off like a sleek weasel and I was out on the road before I knew what hit me... and speaking of things hitting me, only then did I realize I was riding sans helmet. That kind of freaked me out a bit. But, too late for that, I decided just to take it in and enjoy it. The block zipped by in what felt like seconds and I was back.

"What did you think?" Zak asked. I told him about a couple of problem areas and he made a couple more adjustments - and out I went again. This time, I rode for two blocks, relishing in the very different gearing and the unbearable lightness of biking - I swear, I could have lifted the bike and myself right off the road! It felt really good.

The bike, which in case you haven't guessed already is now my new bike - my early birthday present - is a Giant TCR2. It was priced at $1250 but I got it for $899. In case you're wondering, yes, it really sells for $1250. A little web searching brought up prices exceeding that. Better still, it comes with Michelin Kevlar tires, not stock tires. I was shocked at how light they were, compared to the Armadillos on my other bike. So, better tires and a cheaper price. It was a pretty fair deal. I had them hook me up with lights for those late night and early morning rides and a cycling computer - because I'm taking this one on my first century ride: 100 miles. I don't know when but it's just the bike for the job.

This morning, I took the bike out at 5:30am. I didn't know how far I'd go but I wanted to get some time and miles on it. I didn't even make it to the river before I realized two important things: First, I went fast. Very fast. This was good. Second, I was cold. Very cold. This was bad. And sadly, they were both related, because I wouldn't have been so cold if I hadn't gone so fast. I'm going to need to adjust to this new bike in more ways that I expected.

Give me time.

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