Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bike Day!

Spring 2011 has been a complete disaster from a bicycling standpoint. It’s been cold, windy and raining for the last month and a half. (Almost literally. Seriously, it’s been the coldest, wettest spring on record — ask Tom Skilling.) I’ve managed to bike to work twice, snuck out a couple of times between rain showers for a quick 10 miles on the DuPage River Trail and made a few local errand trips to the grocery and hardware stores. But otherwise, April and half of May have been a washout.

But things are looking up: supposed to hit the mid-70s this weekend, and I’ll have a new bicycle: a Trek Madone 3.1. Yow. 

I’ve been looking at a road bike for more than a year now. The original idea was to get the new bike when I hit my goal weight. Although I’ve lost more than 60 lbs., I’ve been stuck at goal weight +10 lbs. for the last six months. With my 50th birthday fast approaching, I figured a new bike could be my birthday present and motivation to finally lose the last vestiges of my middle-age paunch.

After receiving indifferent treatment, or being downright ignored at several other shops looking for a Cannondale (cough Bike Shop Glen Ellyn cough), Mary and I stopped by Bicycles Etc. last Sunday to see what they had. Bicycles Etc. is a great local bike shop; I’ve been a steady customer for years and I highly recommend the place. It’s a family-owned business. Their salespeople and mechanics are knowledgeable, professional and have a great service attitude. All my dealings with them have been positive so far. Kudos to our salesperson Russ, who took the time to show me several options and patiently explain the advantages — then showed me the 3.1, stepped back and let the bike sell itself.

Actually, the test ride sold the bike (no other bike shop I’d visited had offered a test ride, BTW). I’d never ridden an all-carbon bicycle before: during the first turn around the parking lot I actually looked down at the drivetrain to check if there was a motor of some sort. It was that effortless. It took me a few seconds to figure out the Shimano 105 shifters, but once I did, well, it was insane quick. Turned like a snake. Comfortable cockpit. Felt like home. All carbon for pretty much the same price as the aluminum Cannondale.

Now, two grand is a hell of a lot of money to spend on a damned bicycle, and I tried desperately to talk myself out of it. I’d been looking at a perfectly acceptable Giant cyclocross bike at the Spokes bicycle shop — that one was “just” $1,000 and I thought that was crazy. I thanked Russ for his assistance and we walked back to the car. Mary stopped me from settling. 

“You’ve wanted this bike for years,” she said. “You’ve earned it. And happy birthday.” Seriously, who’s the luckiest man in the world? (Hint: it’s me.) 

Russ set me up with six-months-same-as-cash, cut-resistant tires, pedals with toe clips and a rack. Hated to add all that weight to the featherweight bike, but I’ll need that stuff for the upcoming, absolutely epic rides on the Elroy-Sparta Trail. 

Discovery 7, my faithful old Trek 7100 hybrid, will continue to serve for errands and winter-biking duty. I’m not lugging groceries with a Madone. That would just be wrong on several levels. 

I’m considering breaking with tradition and not naming the Madone “Discovery 8.” I’m open to suggestions. 

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