Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bike Winter Bike Swap

Drove up to Palatine today for Chicago Bike Winter's Bike Swap at Harper College. What a great gathering! Wish there had been a ChainLink table or meeting place.

Bought a pair of "lobster gloves," which absolutely rock my hands' world. I also bought a second pannier bag for $30. The new bag is smaller than my Bicycles Etc. full-grocery-bag pannier -- which cost $20 more -- but it has shoulder straps so it can double as a backpack.

In the "bicycle corral," I got to sit on a used Cannondale T800, my dream touring bike. A few minutes on the trainer revealed that the frame was too long for me (thanks, basset-hound legs). An off-the-rack bike probably won't work and I'll need a professional fitting. The staff from The Bike Shop in Glen Ellyn assured me that they stand by to help when I'm ready to set up my Cannondale.

Mrs. Pither bought a skullcap that will apparently allow her hairstyle to survive a motorcycle ride.

After an authentic Malaysian lunch at the nearby Penang Restaurant (a major reason Mrs. P accompanied me on this junket), we headed home. I can say with some authority that Penang serves the best prawn mee this side of Kuala Lumpur, nom nom nom.

Later that afternoon, I got antsy. I had just bought all this new stuff at a Bike Winter event, so it seemed appropriate to take a ride. I scribbled down our shopping list and took off for Casey's grocery store in the 29-degree weather.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable five-mile round trip, thanks to the balaclava, the-not-a-windbreaker-it's-a-shell and my new lobster gloves -- which made my hands the warmest part of my body. Too warm, in fact; it got a little sweaty in there.

I took an actual shopping cart through Casey's. Before I'd taken just a basket, because that was all that would fit in the one pannier bag -- but now I have two bags! Radichio? Sure! Extra loaf of double-fiber wheat bread? Okey-dokey! Hey, Peterson's is having a wine tasting, and wow -- Three Saints cabernet sauvignon is damn tasty! Throw a bottle in the starboard bag!

As I was packing away the wine bottles into the bulging bags, a guy came up and asked to check out my pannier bags. My parking lot friend was impressed with the bags, but not so much with my bike. "That butted aluminum looks really heavy. Man, that's an old frame — don't mean to diss your bike, sorry."

I allowed as how I bought the bike for exercise, so the weight was an actual advantage. I also mentioned that I was in the market for a road bike, like the Cannondale I'd sat on at the bike swap that afternoon.

"Don't buy a bike!" he almost yelled at me. "I'm a Cannondale guy myself, but don't pay for someone else to build it for you. Build it yourself! That's what I do!"

I'm a handy guy with a wrench around cars and motorcycles -- but I won't be building a Cannondale. However, I was glad for the vote of confidence on the brand from someone who apparently knows a little bit about bikes. And I'm glad that I now have the right equipment to ride during at least part of the winter months, starting with my Rock Lobster gloves. Thanks, Chicago Bike Winter!

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