Friday, February 27, 2009


So, as I wrote last, I've been riding my new bike. I rode it on Tuesday. I rode it on Wednesday. I rode it yesterday, and I rode it today.

On Tuesday I was uncomfortable. I thought, "This bike is slow and funny to sit on. Maybe I made a mistake. I wonder how much I can get for this thing now that it's built."

On Wednesday I made a couple adjustments and started to settle in. I began experimenting with skidding and steering up hills and generally seeing how I could throw the thing around. I enjoyed that.

On Thursday I really started to like the bike. It's definitely still a little uncomfortable. I think I need to swap the saddle out or put meat tenderizer on my taint or something. I might throw some straight bars on it. I'm going to fuck around some and see if I can get it all the way there.

And you know, this is all just bike shit. Things take time to settle.

It's nothing, but it's a discovery for me.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Form and Gear Ratios

When a pro cyclist says they're lacking form, what they mean is that they're not on top of their game. They're not riding well.

I am currently off form.

My legs hurt. I have no speed. The hills I once loved are now taunting me and calling me names. I'm just grinding it out.

I've also put my new bike on the road a fixed gear Surly Cross-Check. It's supposed to be my foul weather bike. It's fully-fendered. It's more mercifully geared than my "fast" bike, a Bianchi Pista. The Cross-Check is set up with a 44x17 gearing. The Pista is 48x16. The Cross-Check gearing produces 69.9 gear inches, or a pretty easy pedal with not much top end unless you can spin comfortably over a 120 cadence. The Pista on the other hand produces 81 gear inches, which is more of an entry level track set up, bigger top end, not at all meant for climbing.

On the road, there are even more differences. The Pista is fast, but it's hard to stop. It's very difficult to skid a 48x16 gearing, like the cool kids do on their bike videos, so this bike is set up with a brake. The Cross-Check is much, much easier to control. It's easier to get it rolling and easier to slow it down. It climbs well. It's just not all that fast, which is frustrating when you want (or need) to go fast.

I'm having, that's not right...I'm taking time to adjust to the differences between the two bikes. And I have all these gut reactions like, I should go to a 44x15 on the Cross Check to make it faster, or I should stick a 17 on the back of the Pista to make it just a little easier to stop. The hardest part is resisting all these urges and riding each bike enough to understand the real differences and know whether or not any changes are necessary at all.

There are also pretty significant geometric differences between the two, so they fit me completely differently, and I'm wrestling with that too.

This is the process of "dialing in." It is long and filled with missteps, and yet it is, ultimately, part of the enjoyment of building and riding bikes.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ponying up.

I went to my local bike shop yesterday. I spent about an hour talking to a guy there about stuff I was interested in for my new road bike. He had some really good suggestions. He seemed to "get" what I was looking for. Comfort, durability, performance, and a more classic look. We picked out some really great parts and did some calculations on what kind of crankset and cassette to get. Took an inseam measurement for cranks and measured my shoulders for bars. Dialed stuff in for me.

I really like the shop and I'm going to have them build the bike. I 1) don't know what I'm doing. 2) don't have the right tools 3) don't have the workspace and 4) don't have the time to build a bike right now. I want my bike built before spring and with my work schedule etc.. it's not going to happen. Plus these guys will do a great job. I won't be off riding and stuff will start falling off. I'll have confidence in my bike, which will be a nice feeling again.

So, I left the shop and they said they'd email me the price of everything. Component group, wheelset, and misc stuff. Later that day I got the mail. Ouch. They did give me a group discount... but still. I have reviewed everything on the list and have plugged in cheaper substitutions. Stuff that would work fine. But then I stopped. It's not what I want. I have spent a lot of time doing research and looking for parts that fit my philosophy for this bike. To compromise on the bike would betray that hard work. This is the bike that I laid out and planned. Every choice had a purpose. I'm not going to abandon that.

I'm giving the shop the green light to start gathering the parts and to start the build. Stay tuned.