Saturday, March 27, 2010

Nekkid and Flying

You know, one of those dreams
but then I realized
it wasn't a dream...I was on the road bike

- OB :-)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


When I first started riding back in the early 90s I easily saw the need for cycling shorts. Seams? waistbands? wrinkled cotton underthings with extra elastic in spots that would be bending and flexing over n over n over n over? Lycra with chamois took away all the aches and chafing and made total sense after I got used to the idea: What? WITHOUT undies?? I had to admit there was logical sense, but the first time? nekkid. I felt nekkid.

And everyone who was any kind of cyclist KNEW I was nekkid underneath.

And I knew they knew.

So I wore my t-shirt long and baggy.

Of course as time passed, I adjusted to the idea that all cyclists are basically riding around nekkid underneath and no one cares, so the concept lost its, its novelty.

And then one summer I took a week long ride through the Canadian Rockies. And I wore a long-sleeved t-shirt. And I carried bread bags for the inside of my shoes if it rained. And I carried an extra t-shirt if it got warm and another extra if one got wet... thus was borne the rationale for a cycling jersey and shoe covers (and a road bike, for that matter). Soon, I got one long-sleeved jersey. Then one short-sleeved. Solid colored....

I dabbled in racing. I traded in my floppy, dark purple, pilled Performance jersey for something more form-fitting that screamed in red, white and green and was covered in sponsor logos. I matched-up my socks and helmet. I didn't think twice about it. The kit was at once an identifier and an obligation: sponsors had footed the bills for some of my equipment. Spreading the word was the way to say thanks.

Then? The skinsuit. I guess a skinsuit doesn't leave a ton to the an outsider, anyway. At time trials, we all must have looked as if we were nekkid wearing Depends, but to us nekkid was far from our minds. We noticed the team colors, how others had pinned their numbers, and whether or not someone had decided on arm warmers that day. I was confident of the fact, when someone once commented to me, Hey, great skinsuit, that he meant the season's new design, not the body that was wearing it. It's the way racers think.

It's been years since I've raced, but I haven't made a total transition back to cotton and floppy shirts. If I'm riding to supper or to the store, I'll toss travel pants over the cycling gear and I'll wear a sweater instead of a jersey.

Last Sunday, we rode over to see George for the afternoon. As usual, I wore my merino and tights underneath my pedestrian clothing, but the March temps were hitting the mid 50s by the time we were headed home. I needed a stop to switch out the jacket and to peel off the travel pants. As we got rolling again, I realized it was the first time all winter that I was riding with nothing flapping around my legs, with nothing cinched at my ankles, with nothing bunching up where it shouldn't. I could feel breeze...e v e r y w h e r e. ...

Nekkid, I tell you.

And everyone who was any kind of cyclist KNEW I was nekkid.

- tob I have GOT to get out more.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Why Do You Ride?

- OB because "if I ride uphill I will eventually get to ride downhill...that's how it works."

Monday, March 08, 2010

South Padre Island

-OB heading home today

Sunday, March 07, 2010


So I looked. Jamis, Surly and Redline were early contenders, had what I was looking for and the brands are available at a couple LBSs.

I also considered having something done to the travel bicycle that I already have. The old LeMond could be repurposed with the addition of some brazons, but there's no way it would take cantilever brakes and 35c commuter tires with studs. It was out. And the Cross Concept I have already? It can't take a rack (believe me, I've tried 'em all), and I'm tired of hauling a backpack. She goes onto the auction block.

I dug around on the Surly site, the Jamis site. Long Haul Trucker? WD has one and loves it for commuting. Maybe a CrossCheck? Aurora? I poked around online and read forums and reveiws. They each had plusses and minuses. Someone somewhere in some forum mentioned the Bianchi Volpe...I decided that may be worth a look. After all, I converted to Bianchiism seven years ago and with each passing season it seems I become more entrenched in the faith.

And then -- it started innocently enough as I scanned through the frame geometry and component lists -- I found myself paying undue attention to forum comments about bicycle weight. It's the last vestige of my racing days: a 16-pound road bicycle (pedals and bottle cages included) that I still love to ride. The words lightweight and fun have the same definition in my cycling manual. I'm trying to rewrite it, but it takes time.

I headed off to an LBS on the west side-o-town (I know, it's not THE LBS, but it's good to have found a bunch of good joes close to home) and talked to the Commuter Guy every LBS has a Commuter Guy. I told Commuter Guy what I was looking for and what I was coming from. We hemmed and hawed over a Conquest. We talked Surly. You know, in all honesty, in this town I worry about having a Surly locked up outside of any place. I don't think twice about leaving Betty sitting out while I go in for coffee, but I'd have to have a u-lock and cable on a Long Haul Trucker if I popped in somewhere to grab a kleenex.

Besides, WD's LHT weighs in at 35 lbs 35 lbs! with fenders, studded tires, rack and lights.

We were about to walk over to the computer when Commuter Guy stops and says you're tall...what size frame to you take? We've got this '09 Bianchi Axis on sale, but it's a 58.

It's a size larger than I would take if I were racing cyclocross, but I have no plans for that -- it's a perfect fit and reach for riding the road. The aluminum frame means no rust, it's all sparkly black, it takes a rack, it's on sale...and it weighs 22 pounds.


-The now I have to sell one Bag

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Education and Cycling

Give this read a chance -- the ending applies to all of us who ride. It's a great analogy.

- OB down south for some R & R

Monday, March 01, 2010

Decision Tree

I'm trying really hard not to let this blog tumble down a long slide into an aging-parents, hot-flashes-keep-me-up-all-night, work-is-depressing-because-of-budget-problems diatribe, but some days it's really hard. I mean, really...I can't sleep, 30 kids in a class, people losing their jobs, no pay raise this year or next, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!

However, off in the distance is a flickering bulb that I turn and look toward every now and again: this year and next, our perk for not getting a raise is that we can cash in a sick day if we spend it equipment.


F i t n e s s equipment.

Just thinking it sends me to my happy place.

So all sorts of bicycles are rolling round the miniture velodrome that is my brain: a single speed mtb, a Pugsley, a full-on touring bicycle. But, these rides would each cost a pile of sick days. One day buys me a bottom-end hybrid at a garage sale as long as I can find one on Sunday when everything is half off. And yes, I can add my own $$ toward something more expensive, but I've got my limits.

Any bicycle would go a long way toward keeping me level-headed in the midst of the insanity, but the sanity that I've been pining away for is that which is attained in the midst of a day-to-day grind, in the midst of commuting and errand-running. I've decided I want something that can take a rear rack (I'm tired of the backpack), but that's still a sprite on the 25 mile round trip commute, as long as it's something that can lock up outside the grocery store, yet it's gotta have decent components, but not cost a ton, and it needs to look good, but be something that I don't really care about....

Can you see my conundrum?

- Baggie