I had ridden thousands of miles on a Giant Prodigy comfort hybrid during the previous four years; had seen the coast of Oregon and the Canadian Rockies a week at a time from an upright position. As I watched riders on road bicycles fly past me on those tours, I didn’t really understand the wow-you’re-doing-this-on-a-hybrid comments. I simply assumed they had fitness that I didn’t.
It was during a tour across Minnesota that summer that I rode my first century. The day’s route was about 70 miles, with an extra 30-mile option around mile 60. It was a relatively flat course with a couple of rollers, and the decision point was late enough in the ride that my friend and I had plenty of time to think about it.
The day was perfectly blue and perfectly mild. By the cutoff we were still feeling fresh. We had nothing to do all day but ride, so we did.
Over those 30 highchair-positioned miles I pondered road bicycles as small groups of them passed me with riders on the hoods, in the drops, on the tops. Somewhere around mile 75 my lower back started aching, and the extra foam of my lycra-covered saddle that had been so comfortable...well, it wasn’t anymore. The bull-horns on my hybrid didn’t allow the hand positions that would give my back and backside a break.
The light bulb warmed, then illuminated.
A couple weeks later I was off to find a road bike.
It was a LeMond Zurich that convinced me I could give up a granny ring for the double -- one test climb up Williston Road was enough for me to know that a lighter weight bicycle and different position meant I could go places more easily and more comfortably than I’d ever imagined.
It was cycling nirvana.
I’d never need to, nor why-would-I-ever-want-to, buy another bicycle.
Last Thursday saw record high temps across the upper midwest. One area of MN recorded a 60 degree day, one of only ten 60 degree January days to be had in the last 120 years...one day out of a possible 3,720 January days to hit 60 degrees. Our chance of a 60 degree day in January is...well, it’s infinitesible. But that's the winter we're having.
And, hitting the mark this year is my fault...our fault.
Last February, we test rode fat bikes over piles of snow on the playground of the neighborhood school. I told Wheel, “If we do this, we’ll have the first brown winter in six years.” But, he was having none of that argument, and we put down our money.
Over the past eight months, we’ve had them out on bare trails, sand, gravel, singletrack, rail lines and a few fire roads. The bikes are a hoot. But I knew it would happen: we’d get snow bikes and then all of us would face down the brownest winter in a decade.
I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't make a big deal about it. We feel bad enough.