Sunday, August 31, 2008

Driving the Truck

So, like I said earlier, I got the Schwinn down off its hooks yesterday and got it rideable again. I decided to take a ride on it this morning. As it turned out, we needed some items for a bon fire at a friends tonight, so that gave me a destination. But first I needed to set up the Schwinn to haul a load of groceries. I remebered I had a good ol' milk crate in the garage, so I went old school. 4 hose clamps later, and I had bonafide grocery getter. Below is a quick photo I snapped of my vintage 1997 Schwinn Moab 1 with a vintage 1989 milk crate from Borden's in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Too bad it's not one of the old wooden one's, huh?

I geared up and headed off to Trader Joe's in Park Ridge, the town just to the north and west of us.

And, I have to say, the bike felt really, really good. It still has a mirror on it from my previous attempts to make it a commuter bike. That, combined with the more upright riding position and maybe the higher ride height, made me more comfortable riding in traffic. I found I was keeping a higher cadence to overcome the added drag of the fat knobby tires, but aside from that, it was really no harder to ride than the roadie.

I Got to Trader Joe's and picked up all the fixin's for s'mores - Trader Joe's has some really tastey alternatives to traditional s'mores, such as cool, perfectly square vanilla marshmallows, and dark chocolate bars, rather than just Hershey's. And they have some really good cinnamon graham crackers too. I picked up all of these items and a 6-pack of Liberty Ale to bring to the shindig. I chose this brand as bit of a nod to my cycling mentor in San Francisco, not to mention that it is quite tasty.

Took a route home that was just a bit longer, but kept me on more side streets, under the trees and provided a view of some of the beautiful homes that populate Park Ridge. As I got close to home I noticed something interesting. The left side of my left foot was getting numb again. Not sore and numb, like with the crazy shoes, but still, I had pretty much lost feeling in my pinky toe and along the side of my foot. So, maybe it isn't the shoes that are bothering my foot when I ride at all. Maybe it is something else? A pinched nerve somewhere? Very odd to be sure, bup maybe it is just a matter of continuing to ride. Maybe all my parts will start to loosen up with time., and this business with my left foot will subside. Anyway. I had another nice ride, none the less, and I think the Schwinn will make a good errand runner and ORV.

  • approx. 10.5 miles
  • some quality amount of time breathing deeply
  • a decent clip
  • no records set

LSD Trip

Well, with getting back to my regular schedule at work, and getting busy there as well, I didn't ride for a couple of days.

However, yesterday I loaded the Fuji into the Suby and drove over to a buddy's house and then the two of us rode down to the lake. Then we took a nice ride from downtown south. A casual ride where conversation and enjoying the amazing views of our skyline and the absolutely perfect weather were the main focus of the ride, rather than how efficiently I was riding. He was on a mountain bike, and we were riding the prettiest path in Chicago on a Saturday morning. Had I tried to ride fast, I would have quickly lost my friend on his mountain bike, missed the views, and then I would have likely crashed into a tourist anyway. The Lake Shore Drive path is not the place to try to set speed records on a bike. I must make a point of getting over there more frequently. I live in the far northwest corner of the city, and work in the suburbs, so I don't make it downtown as often as I used to. What a beautiful, beautiful city. I think it is important that every resident of Chicago make it down to the lakefront a couple times a year. It makes it little easier to pay the taxes.

We finished up our ride back and my pals house with a couple of ice cold, locally brewed, Goose Island beers, enjoyed out on his balcony. No personal records were broken, and no goals were met on this ride. But to be sure, this was the best rides I have taken on the Fuji since I started riding it.

Riding through the heart of the city in fairly heavy vehicle traffic to get to the lake front, and then riding the lake front in fairly heavy pedestrian traffic, the crazy shoes became a bit of a nuisance. It wasn't the kind of ride that required that much efficiency, or even that efficient a bike. So, as soon as I got home, the Schwinn (MTB) came down from its ceiling hooks. I spent the afternoon cleaning it up and lubricating all its parts. At one time I had put a set of road tires on the bike, in attempt to make it more streetable. I removed those and put its nice OEM knobby tires back on. No sense in trying to make this bike something it isn't. I installed a rear rack that I had in the rafters as well. I took some time to adjust the seat on the bike using what I have learned adjusting the road bike for a comfortable fit, and in an hour or so, I was riding it around the driveway. After riding the Fuji for all this time, the Schwinn feels like an SUV. My intention is to use this bike for these "casual" rides as well as for short trips to the store and other errands. Also, the Cook county forest preserve has more unpaved bike paths than it does paved. At one time I was pretty involved in Jeeps and off roading, so I do enjoy the dirt as much as the pavement. I figure as long as I'm pedalling something, I'm still getting a good workout, and still building my ability to spend time on a bike saddle. I have a great old mountain bike, and many available dirt paths to ride in this area. I may as well take advantage of them as a way of still reaching my eventual goal to ride a century in 2009. If anything, maybe pedaling against the resistance of wide knobby tires on dirt will do more to improve my stamina then gliding along on ultra narrow high psi tires on smooth pavement. Spending some time on the MTB should make riding the road bike feel positively effortless. A cross training, of sorts.

I also ordered bike racks for the Subaru Friday. Those should be here next week, so I can start taking the bikes to some new places to ride. I'm looking forward to seeing some new places.

16.41 miles (closer to 18. I forgot to reset the computer)
max speed unknown, I didn't reset from the last trip, but no records were shattered to be certain.
11.8 mph avg.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I am an old man.
I puff and sweat profusely.
Children pass me by.


Stayed home from work today to celebrate the last day of my kids summer vacation. I have been promising and promising and promising to go to a water park with her and things just kept getting in the way. So this morning I looked at the weather and decided that today was the day.

Little did we know that almost all the parks have started closing up during the week, since most public schools are back in session.

But we found one near the house, although it didn't open until 4pm. That left me time for a quick ride between games of Crazy 8's and Clue Jr. Just a quick run today though. An uneventful, beautiful Chicago day.

I seriously need to go try some new routes though. I've started shopping for roof racks for the Subaru. Lots of paths in the area to try. Paved and unpaved, so that Moab is going to have to come down off the hooks and get cleaned up too.

9.89 miles
12.9 mph avg.
28.4 mph max.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Nice ride, although the trail is definitely the most crowded on Sundays. Lots of packs of women jogging who feel they are entitled to the whole path. But the sun was shining and I was on my bike. I just said good morning to them and moved on. Since I was wearing "the shorts" I wasn't able carry the Ipod. Turn out to be no big deal, really. And it seems that people tend to say good morning to you more often when you don't have wires sticking out of your ears. So, instead of having a sound track to enhance my ride, I was alone. Nothing but the sound of my breathing, the quiet zmmm zmmm zmmm of road tires on asphalt, and the subtle mechanical clatter of chain against sprockets. Alone with my thoughts. This gave me some good quality time to work on my baiku, hahaha... It was actually very nice, and I may just continue leaving the music at home most of the time. The shorts are pretty nice. However, it was a little chilly this morning and I have to say that this made for an interesting start to the ride. The sensation of actually feeling the morning air temperature in my nether regions at first made it feel as if I had left the house without my pants, which sort of made me feel like I was in the middle of one of those dreams everyone seems to have had at some point. The one where you find yourself at work or school or some other public place and suddenly realize that you have forgotten to dress yourself. I'm glad it was early, and there was not a lot of traffic on the roads. By the time I hit the bike path, I was warmed up and becoming accustomed to the pants. I decided that since most everyone else I passed on a bike was wearing them too, we were all in the same boat - Riding in our underwear.

At about 20 miles, I felt something fly down my shirt. I sat up on the bike and fluffed my shirt a couple of times and didn't notice anything, so I went about my business. Minutes later I felt a pinch right next to my bellybutton. Fluffed my shirt again and out fell a bee. That is the first time in my life that I have been stung by a bee.

"Hmm.... I always thought it would hurt worse than that."

And then a couple minutes later, it did. And then it went away. And then it hurt again, this cycle repeating itself for the duration of my ride and most of the morning for that matter.

Little bastard.

Well, tomorrow I go back to my regular work schedule, so I'm not sure when I'll fit in these same rides. I may have to stick to shorter rides during the week, and leave the longer ride for the weekend. We'll see.

26.19 miles
1' 59"
13.3 mph avg.
22.7 mph max

Saturday, August 23, 2008


I am clipped in tight.
The traffic moves too slowly.
I am falling over.

"The Pants"

I committed. I bought two pairs of biking pants yesterday evening.

My wife likes them, so all in all, I think that makes them a good purchase. If nothing else, I'll just wear them around the house as lingerie.

No ride today though. Had to get some things done around the house. Sunday is shaping up to be the nicer of day of the weekend anyway. On my trip to get "the pants" I also picked up a slightly larger seat bag that will hold my stuff, plus an inner tube. I'll get that ready today, and mount the hand pump. Picked up a new water bottle, but it is too big. I knew I should have gotten the smaller one. Tomorrow morning we ride.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Oh wonderful bike.
A most precision machine.
Why must you hurt me?


That's how I felt this morning.

I am the man! I don't know what happened last night, but I have suddenly become hard wired into this amazing machine!! I don't know if it was the bowl of cereal I had before this ride or, if something inside my body has just "clicked" but I am unstoppable!! I am the fastest, smoothest biking man ALIVE!!

I had a tailwind.

It was a long, steamy ride home. And a block away from home, while waiting to cross Montrose Ave, I did another clipless tumble. But by then it felt pretty nice to just lay on there on the sidewalk and rest a spell anyway.

I did pull one great move on the bike today. As I was just heading into a corner that is somewhat obscured by trees, I could see through them enough to know there was a guy coming the other way on a bike, so I was moved my fingers up onto the brake levers, just in case. We were both basically into the turn when we actually came into each others view and that is when he finally saw me. He was on a damn hybrid (see, I'm a snooty road bike elitist already...) and in my lane like a fool, because that gave him the shortest distance around the turn. When he saw me, he tried to swerve back into his own lane, but by then I was already moving over to give him room, so he basically turned in front of me. I grabbed a handful of rear brake and put my precious road bike into a classic BMX power slide. This swung rear of my bike toward him even more, but when I released the brake, the tire got traction and I just rolled right on around him. All the while watching this goof with his face all squished up, sticking his feet out to the sides, waiting for the inevitable crash. He made some sort of, "yeeeaaahh" sound as I went by, which was pretty amusing after the fact. I was worried that my tire wouldn't like being slid like that, but it seems to have survived.

Speaking of tires, as I read more about road bikes, it seems that flat tires are not uncommon. This bike came with some extra tubes and one of those nifty little CO2 pumps. Maybe I should start carrying them. I have some lightweight tire changing tools already that I can pack. I'd hate to be 10 miles from home and have a flat tire...

Well, today is a milestone of sorts for me. I was scrolling through the little bike computer after this ride, and the odometer, which by the way, I was able to reset after the battery incident, reads 100.2 miles. And I reset it conservatively. So I feel it is safe to say that I have put a good, honest, 100 miles on this bike. Yay for me.

I'm typing too much again, but there is one last thing I want to show you. A couple pictures from my absolute best, most enjoyable day of bicycling...

These were taken on the day my kid and I jumped in the Subaru and took a quick ride over to our neighborhood bike shop, Rudy's. And there she picked out a bitchin' Mongoose bike for herself and paid for half of it with her own money, just a day or two after getting up on two wheels on a smaller bike all by herself. I helped a little here and there, and offered advice, but she basically just decided she was going to ride one day and once she put her mind to it, it didn't take long at all. She asked me to take the pedals off her bike so she could just walk it up and down the driveway, so I did. She did that for about an hour and then decided it was time to put the pedals back on. And before I knew it, she was cruising up and down our driveway, over to the neighbors and up and down their driveway too. She is one awesome kid. And this is also why I highly recomend that every Dad keep an old BMX bike in the garage.

22.08 miles
12.1 mph avg.
24.3 mph max

Thursday, August 21, 2008

R&D day

Took the same loop as yesterday but the pace was slower. I was definitely running at a pretty good pace in some places, but I also made several stops to make adjustments to the bike, poked around in the neighborhood perfecting my street route to the bike path, and basically just enjoying the ride.

Per Paul's recommendations, I flipped the handlebar stem over giving me 10 degrees of rise rather than 10 degrees of drop. I also raised the seat just a bit more. I actually mounted my old GPS on the bars this morning in order to help with my routing and just to try it out. Kind of cool, kind of geeky. I don't plan to make a habit of this although the mount I came up with works quite well if I do say so. Maybe when I do that century ride, I'll track the whole thing.

Then again, maybe not...

The adjustments to the bike today made it feel even better. However, I noticed that I was having to push myself back on the saddle again from time to time though, so I stopped and moved the seat a little bit forward and tilted the front of the seat up just a little bit more. I was just going to do a quick ride, mainly to try out the new adjustments on the bike and find a good route to the bike path. But once I found myself at the bike path I decided to go ahead and do my loop. Also per Paul's suggestion, I left the straps on the crazy shoes a bit loose, and guess what? No more foot pain! I was just strapping them down too tight! My left foot was still getting sore along the left side, but I found that if I tried to make a point of keeping my knees in toward the middle of the bike, that relieved that little nuisance as well. It gets harder to remember all these little things when I start getting tired, but it should all come easier with time. It's all just a matter of making these things a habit.

But, I think the bike is about as good as it is going to get. As I adjust the bike to take weight off my hands, it shifts to my butt, so by the time I was coming home today, I was feeling it more back there (combined with making two 20 mile rides in 2 days - that's a lot for me) so I think there is always a trade off. All in all, I can't get over how easy it is to put miles on this bike. It is just a completely enjoyable ride.

I think I'll go ahead and commit to a couple pairs of "biking shorts." I like having all the pockets in my cargo pants for the Ipod and paper towels for the inevitable runny nose, but I'll figure that out. Maybe one of those jerseys with the pockets along the back.

hmmm. I think a trip to the bike shop is in order.

Oh! I forgot to mention - I did the "clipless tumble" today. Waiting for some traffic, got too close to the curb, couldn't get clipped out quickly enough and tipped over. The good news was that I just tumbled into the grass. The bad news was that the owner of the grass had a sprinkler on at the time... :)

So - a slower day, but a lot of progress was made none-the-less. I love this bike.

21.10 miles
time unknown, but long
10.7 mph avg.
23.4 mph max.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

2nd Shift

Covering some evening shifts at the hell hole this week, so that will at least give the chance for some early rides. Just got back from one in fact. 21.10 miles. Pretty nice ride that went easier than that 10 miler I did earlier this week. Maybe because I'm riding in the morning, instead of after work. Maybe because I checked the tire pressures this morning, and the front was a little low. Maybe because I set out this morning to just ride. I decided I wasn't going to think about speed today. I was just going to ride. I didn't load the bike into the car this time. I found a route that will get me nearly to the bike path on side streets rather than riding on a 4 lane. With a little more poking around I'm sure I can do even better. I'll need to jump onto Nagle to get over the expressway, but aside from that I should be able to run side streets.

At about 10 miles today, my thumbs were bothering me again, so I just took off the gloves. This was better for my thumbs, but the rest of my hand got a bit sore. So, maybe just different gloves, or I'll cut a little room into the thumbs of these gloves. I guess I have fat thumbs...

At 20 miles, my feet were cramping pretty badly, and my bootie was getting pretty sore. How in the hell will I ever do 100? I hope this is just a matter of seat time. I don't think it will be too difficult to get my legs up to the task. To this point they have felt pretty good at the end of a ride.

I also made an effort to stay down in the drops of the bars more today. The less drag I create, the further I'll go someday, right?

Oh. I picked up a little work stand for the bike on Ebay. Nice to be able work on it without it wanting to fall over, and it actually gives me a pretty stable place to store the bike when it is in the garage. I'll try to get some pictures of everything today.

Oh again. Once I got the bike on the work stand, I took the opportunity to remove the aerobars. I'm not going to use those things.

21.10 miles
12.9 mph avg.
26.8 mph max.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Back in the Saddle

Well, after the big (for me) 20 mile ride on Saturday morning, I took Sunday off. Actually, we just weren't around the house much, so I didn't have much time to ride. So I got back out there today after work. Rather than risk being killed by 5:00pm traffic, I opted to toss the bike into the back of the Subaru and just drove to the bike path I rode to on Saturday.

Today I only did 10 miles, but I tried to ride harder. It was hotter today and there was a fairly good breeze, so I am more tired today than I was on Saturday, even though my average speed was not much better. I think it was 13.7 mph. I say I think because I dropped my nifty little bike computer as I was coming into the house, causing its battery cover and the battery to go sailing across the driveway. This caused all the data in the little computer to also go sailing off into the ether. Pisses me off, because it means the odometer will forever be 35 miles off. That's just one of those things that will really make me nuts. I also tried to go really hard down a hill today, just to see how fast I could get this bike to go, but now I have no idea how fast I went. I'm sure it was like 200 mph or so... :)

On an editorial note, I sure wish NBC would show more of the biking stuff at the Olympics. I saw a headline on their site today saying that Sarah Hammer was involved in a crash and possibly hurt. Hope she's OK. At least I can see some BMX this week.

9.95 miles
13.7 mph avg.
200 mph max.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

20 miles

Ok. Where are we? Ah yes. I had just brought you up to speed about my adventures with clipless pedals.

So, I got past that, and got pretty comfortable with the shoes/pedals. Over the next several days, I would jump on the bike and take a quick ride after dinner. Let me see...

Got the bike on Monday. To the park and back on platform pedals on Tuesday. (about 2 miles) Did 4 miles on Wednesday, 5 on Thursday, and took the evening off on Friday ending every ride with making small adjustments to the bike. Thursday evening I remembered that at some point in time I had put a small bike computer on the Schwinn (the mountain bike). I mounted that on the Fuji so that I can start keeping better track of my progress.

I have also set a goal for myself. I want to do a century ride. I don't think there is enough good weather left to pull it off in '08, so my goal is to be ready for one next summer. If things really progress well, and I happen to find something locally in the fall, I may give it a shot. But I think I need more training than that. We'll just have to see how things go.

That brings us up to today. I got up bright and early, had 2 pieces of Rudi's whole wheat toast and a glass of this energy drink my wife has been trying. It is called FRS and you get it through the mail. It tastes pretty darn good and what the hell - it has bicycles on the website and Lance Armstrong is involved in some manner. And considering it was already in the 'frige, well, that was good enough for me. I finished up my breakfast and then grabbed the water bottle from the refrigerator that I had swiped from my kid the night before, and the Ipod. I went out to the garage, stepped into the crazy shoes, strapped on the helmet and gloves and I was on my way.

I headed north up Nagel to Caldwell Woods at Milwaukee and Devon. It is known for having a pretty nice bike path that goes for a long, long way. It may to to Canada for all I know at this point. It was about 3.5 miles to the park / Forest Preserve and then I rode the path until I hit 10 miles on my newly mounted bike computer. That just so happened to put me at a picnic table. So I stopped, had a nice drink of water and started back toward home.

I road 20.1 miles this morning and gosh darn it, I'm pretty proud of myself. I have ridden bikes my whole life. Growing up in NW Indiana, it was ALL we did. We rode our bikes nearly every single day and pretty much year round. I can remember plowing through 8 inches of snow on my BMX bike, in a full snow suit, heading over to a buddy's house so that we could play on our bikes in the snow. We were always riding, either to get some where, or riding just to play. Bikes were our transportation to be sure. Everything was spread out just a bit too far where I lived to make walking practical. But bikes were also our imaginary motorcycles as well. (Can't count how many times I got in trouble when my Mom would try playing solitaire and find her deck three or four cards short because I had taken them, along with a couple of her clothes pins and used them to get the proper motor cycle sound from my bike) Bikes were our getaway cars, our horses, and could even be flipped upside down and used as an imaginary ice cream machine. We raced each other and built ramps and learned to bunny hop and got full of mud after a good summer rain. We tore them apart and rebuilt them again. I could strip a bike to a bare frame in probably 30 minutes. Then we'd sand them down, break out the rattle cans of primer and whatever cool new color of paint we'd picked out from hardware store. (which we had ridden to on our bikes) We'd have them resprayed and put back together before we went to bed that night. I lived bicycles.

But, I don't think I've ever ridden 20 miles until this morning.

The ride was very nice and for the most part, easy. I was sore coming home, but not terribly winded and my legs felt good. My butt was getting sore and my back was just starting to ache a bit. My thumbs were getting numb. I'd say the back and butt are just a matter of training. The thumbs? Seems like my gloves were too small. But when I tried the next size up at the store when I purchased them, those felt too big. I think these gloves may just need to stretch a bit. The outside edge of my left foot was hurting a bit, as if I was pedaling with the side of my foot. I may adjust the cleats on the shoes just a bit, and I think that I just need to be more aware of how I am pedaling. I started getting really comfortable with the crazy shoes and the clippless pedals on this ride. I did my best to move the pedals in circles rather than just pushing down on them. That helped the foot pain a lot and, wow, what a nice feeling it is to use completely different muscle groups to pedal a bike. I would forget, and my legs would start to get a bit sore. Then I'd remember and start using different parts of my leg to power the bike and all the leg pain would just go away. Especially when climbing.

Here's something you wouldn't expect in Chicago - I was on alert for other bikers, and walkers, and runners. But coming around a blind corner at 14 mph into a herd of deer? Now THAT was just a bit odd! Turns out there are about a million deer in our parks. And they aren't terribly frightened by bikes.

Well, this is way longer than I expected. Time for a nice breakfast.

20.1 miles
12.7 mph avg.
24.9 mph max.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ramping Up

So, I was all set. I now officially had a road bike. The second day I took one short ride with the platform pedals, made some more adjustments to the seat and handle bars and then tried on the super cool clipless shoes. They fit great, and looking at the design, it seemed as if once I switched to the clipless pedals and shoes, I'd probably have to re-adjust the seat position a bit. So I decided to commit to them. I put the Look pedals on the bike and put on my cool shoes.
I should tell you here that I have never tried a clipless pedal or the associated shoes. I’ve only even tried pedals with clips a couple of times. So, this was an interesting event for me, to say the least.

I sat on the bike in the garage, leaning against the bench and clipped into and out of the pedals a couple of time and then got off and rolled the bike out into the driveway. I got clipped and headed down the driveway. I rolled out to the street, turned around, came back up the drive, unclipped (declipped? clipped out?) and stopped. No problem! I continued this exercise for about 20 minutes and then headed down the street for a proper ride with these pedals. And now I know why people like them. What an efficient way to pedal a bike! Now that I’ve been using them for a couple of days, I like them even more. But anyway, as I was out riding I came to a stop light. Rather than just trying to keep the bike moving and remaining clipped in, I decided this was a good time to try getting out the clips, stopping and then starting and getting across a busy street smoothly.

It didn’t go that way.

I got my green light, used on foot that was already clipped in to start the bike rolling, reached with the other foot and missed. Thinking that I could just fake it and cross the street with one foot unclipped I tried setting the free foot down on the pedal but the carbon fiber bottom of the shoe, being completely like ice, slipped right off the pedal, causing me to lose my balance and start to tip toward the side of the bike that I was clipped in on. But rather than completely fall in the street, I kept the bike up and wobbled back to the curb from where I started. I managed to get clipped back in, but rather than cross the street again, I just ran home like a sissy and kept practicing in front of my house. Since then, I have not had to stop while riding, but I do pull my feet out of the pedals from time to time just to make sure I make a habit of how to get out of these crazy traps. I’ll be sure to post up when I fall because I can’t get out of the pedals quick enough. It seems to me that there are probably two types of people who use clipless pedals in the world; those who have not been able to get into or out of their pedals quick enough and as a result have had a really silly looking crash, and those who will.

Getting Started

So, I finish up some yard work one afternoon and plop down on the basement sofa with a cold beer. I turn on the TV and scroll through the guide. I find coverage of the Tour de France and tune in. I've always loved bicycles and enjoyed watching the tour. While I watched the wheels turning on the bikes, the wheels in my head began to turn and alas a new adventure was set into motion.
I had recently had a physical, and while I was found to be in good health - good BP, low pulse, no cholesterol issues and... ahem... a healthy prostate - ouch and welcome to your 40's, the doctor mentioned that I could stand to lose 10 or 15 pounds. I am 5'9" tall, average Joe American build, and on the day of my physical, I weighed in at 182 lbs. Up until about a year ago, I was living life comfortably at 172 lbs. and then took a new position at work that resulted in me spending more time at a desk and less time hustling around on a production floor. So as I sat there drinking beer and watching other guys ride bikes, I decided that what I needed to do was get into road biking. Those bikes on TV just looked so smooth and fast, coupled with the fact that I have always had a lust for bikes that is not unlike the lust many guys (and some girls) have for exotic cars, that I just had to give it a try.
Problem number one, I needed a road bike. Hanging in the garage rafters collecting dust, I already had a "vintage" 90's Schwinn Moab 1 mountain bike, a Mongoose BMX bike that I rescued from a trash can one winter and restored, and a big, long single speed, fat tired cruiser that I bought on an impulse a couple years ago. (this goes back to the lust comment) But no road bike. In fact, the last "road" bike I owned was a 10 speed that I purchased with my paper route money many, many moons ago. It was a rebranded Huffy, called Coast King, purchased from the local hardware store. The wheelbase was at least 10" longer than the bikes that many of my buddies road - mostly Schwinn Varsities back then, and it weighed right about a thousand pounds. I thought it was cutting edge back then because it was equipped with a real, honest to goodness disk brake! This was in, like, 1981!
Well, it just so happened that we were going to participate in a neighborhood "block sale" on an upcoming weekend. So the cruiser went out into the yard among my daughters little bike, an assortment of battery powered Jeeps and a bunch of miscellaneous stuff that we were looking to unload. The cruiser sold on the second day, so I officially had room in my collection. (Believe me, If I ever win the lottery, I will have an entire garage dedicated to bicycles...) So, the search was on. I made a commitment to myself right up front that I was going to spend less than a grand on this bike, just in case it went the way of other past hobbies - damn this ADD! I started by checking out the neighborhood bike shops and found that I could, in fact, get onto a somewhat decent entry level bike for less than 1000 dollars. I was able to find bikes with aluminum frames, carbon forks, decent wheels, but pretty much entry level components. I also thought that it would be nice if this new bike was built in the US. For fewer than 1000 dineros, that seemed to cut my choices down to basically Trek. I spent an afternoon reading various bicycling web sites, and many suggested to look at used bikes. I decided to venture into the used bike market, figuring that for the same money, I could get a bike with the same frame and fork options, but with slightly better components. After about 3 weeks of watching Ebay and Craigslist, I finally bid on, and won an Ebay auction for a Fuji Newest 1.0. So, OK... Not US made, but I felt that since I was buying second hand anyway, I wasn’t really going to do that much damage to our nation’s economy. So for just a touch over 6 bills I landed a bike with an aluminum frame, carbon fork, decent wheels, good tires, platform pedals along with a set of Look pedals and CAT-1 carbon shoes that were worn all of one time and were exactly my size, and a decent groupe of midlevel Shimano components. The bike even had a groovy set of aero bars to really make me look like a pro…ahem. All in all a good deal. I was stoked.
The bike arrived in Chicago from the left coast 12 days later, none the worse for wear. It had picked up a couple of fresh dings in its paint in transit and the PO didn't bother cleaning it up much before shipping. I spent the evening reassembling the bike, attempting to get the bike close to the right fit for me and cleaning it all up. By the end of the night, it was looking like a respectable bike again. Of course the tires were flat, and of course I didn't have any thing in the tool box that would allow me to make use of my air compressor to inflate anything equipped with Presta valve stems. Luckily, the PO also included a little hand pump that allowed me to get enough air in the tires for a quick spin. I jumped on in my jeans and Crocs and took quick spin around the block. Immediately the bike felt smoother and faster than anything I had ever ridden. I was stricken.