Wednesday, August 12, 2020

My new string

 So what does a tack ho do when there's suddenly no tack to buy?  They become a cyclist, obviously.  And if you think there's a lot of tack for horses, you have not yet flipped through a bike catalog.

Shopping for bike stuff has the down side that you are forever trying to figure out if something will work with your bike.  It's nothing short of a full fledged research project to try something like wider tires.  Because then you need wider rims and is that going to clear the frame?  Does it come with the right attachment for your brakes?  Is it the right size hub?  Is it thru axle?  I usually chuck the laptop at the husband and tell him to pick things out for me because that's just way too many dang numbers.

The clothes are also a bit . . . odd.  I'm used to lots of spandex in my clothing and thinking that it's really just the worst idea but who the hell designed road cycling clothes???  At least in the equestrian saddle I could sit on the more unpleasant looking bits and then sit up straight.  Not so with cycling.  There's really nowhere to hide with road bike clothing.  Thank goodness for mountain biking clothes.

But similar to horse math, there's bike math.  I had one bike at the end of 2019.  ONE.  An old mountain bike I bought back in 2007 that I thought was going to help me lose weight and improve my cardio.  But having terrible cardio meant that it was no fun to go for a ride and I had zero skills off road.  I hated that thing and it sat in a garage for years.  I would occasionally bust it out to ride around a park or something with my husband who's an avid mountain biker, but it sat and did nothing for many years.

The husband in his happy place, wearing a jersey about drinking and his beer socks.  I don't know why I go places with him.

Then I picked up running.  My cardio and strength improved quite a bit.  When I hopped on that old mountain bike again, it didn't suck nearly as much.  I started following the husband around some basic trails.  Cycling didn't bother my knees the way my constant running did so a plan started to form for cross-training.  I visited my brother, an avid cycling racer, and saw his indoor training set up where he could basically play a video game with his bike including simulating hills (Zwift).  I was sold and ordered the basics in December 2019.

I've upgraded a lot since December, it now moves side to side and the thing at the front simulates going up and down hills

Heck of a lot more fun than running on a treadmill all the time.  And then the pandemic hit, the snow piled up, and I didn't have much of a choice.  Ride the indoor rig or bust.  It didn't beat up my knees like running so I could ride the bike five days a week, no problem.  I did workouts, group rides, even did a race.  I came in last but hey, it was an experience.  The snow melted and I wanted to take my new found fitness outside.

Riding outside is HARD.  There's potholes and hills and cars and squirrels and omg.  The road bike I bought for my indoor trainer was terrible when I took it outside.  It was really not my size though it was the smallest frame the company made.  I had to adjust it to fit me and that made it 'twitchy'.  Like an OTTB having their first cross country school of the spring, I spent the whole ride waiting for it to unload me.

Bad bike, no cookie.  I miss the lack of traffic from lockdown.

I got smart and did research on what I would actually need to ride outside.  Then I discovered that bikes were selling out across the country due to the lockdowns going on.  Ugh.  But I had an ace in the hole:  I'm tiny.  The only bikes left for a lot of shops were the odd size ones, like size XS.  Enter the unicorn.

Complete with the perfect pink pedals I found for her

This beauty is my 2020 Liv Avail Advanced, size XS.  It's a carbon composite frame, disc brakes, Ultegra groupset, and all the other stuff my brother said I should get.  I dunno.  All I care about is that the brakes are very effective, it's actually the right size for me, and it's super pretty.  So, so pretty.  The paint is actually opalescent when it's in the sun.  The ends of the handlebars are anodized metal so they're rainbow.  This beauty is steady as can be and faster than I care to go, but a lady about it.  It's a bike that will serve me well for many years and I have so much fun on it.

But having this dreamy road bike made me realize my old mountain bike sucked.  Again, too big for me.  Also had picked up a weird squeak in the front fork.  So the mountain bike was sold to a (tall) teenage girl looking for her first grown up bike and the unicorn was soon joined by the beastie.

This is my Liv Intrigue, size XS.  Just like when saddle shopping, if you find a company that fits, stick with it!  Especially with mountain bikes it was painful to find something small enough for me.  I tried some other brands and while the numbers said they would fit, riding them was kind of terrifying.  You could tell they were designed for men that are taller than me.  My Liv bikes are actually my size and it's wonderful.  Compared to the unicorn, the beastie is a big, heavy, burly beast.  This is the bike I take to the mountain bike park and on wanders all over NH.  It's also super pretty.

No horses allowed, what a waste.  Perfect place for doing hill work and long gallops.

The final addition to my string is for commuting.  I live in a very hilly area and as I start to venture into the office again, I don't want to be stuck in my car.  It's only 10 miles to get to town, totally reasonable on a bike and a very pretty route.  But those hills are so painful.  I don't mind doing them when I'm out getting some exercise but I don't want to show up at the office as a puddle of sweat.  And then try to do it again on the way home after a long day at work.  So I got my cheater bike.

This is a Trek Super Commuter+ 7, an e-bike.  Yes, it has a motor.  I still have to pedal but it gives me a little assist or a lot of assist if I turn the settings up.  According to the heart rate monitor, I'm still getting the same workout I get from a 2 mile jog over my 40 minute commute so I'm still working out but not showing up to the office completely worn out.  And if I get to that one damn big hill and just can't deal with it?  I crank it up to 'Turbo' and fly on up.  I've loaded it up with bags for my laptop and a change of clothes which makes me extra thankful for the assist.  All loaded up, it's approaching 60 pounds.  I didn't want an e-bike but now that I have one, I only need my car once or twice a week.  Win!

I have three bikes that actually go places and the indoor rig.  They do a pretty good job of covering the basics for me.  My light, fast, fun road bike, my burly, go anywhere mountain bike, and my practical commuter.  And here I was thinking people just bought one bike.  Apparently not!  I certainly don't want to take my mountain bike on a long road ride, it's just too slow.  And I took my road bike on a trail once, it was funny but not ideal.  They're pretty specialized pieces of equipment so I ended up with a small string.

Of course I have my eye on another bike for gravel rides but between my string and my husband's (he's got a MTB, an e-MTB, a fat bike, a road bike, and his indoor bike), we're going to have to discuss storage systems before either of us add any more.  

1 comment:

  1. That e-bike is NICE. There are very few bikes that I look at and want immediately, but that's a good looking bike. I've never considered a bike for my commute mainly because it's 30 miles, but just the other day, I saw someone do the same route on a regular bike. Had to clutch my pearls, but it's such a nice, straightforward way to stay fit and help the earth a little bit.