Friday, August 15, 2008

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.

1 comment:

Jimbo! said...

I can't wait to see the new ride!!