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Saturday, September 3, 2011


Our trip to Trader Joe's in Portland last week yielded an awesome and surprising result.

I got a road bike!

No, not at Trader Joe's (although they have so much cool stuff there I wouldn't have been at all surprised to see a biking section) but at Eastern Mountain Sports next door.

I have been talking about getting a road bike for a while, since my hybrid mountain bike with road tires and no clips is heavy and wasteful on the bit of athletic output I've got.  The born-again road bikers have been trying to convert me for a while and I had just started thinking about giving up my old way of pedaling and moving toward the light.  ("You will feel like you're flying on a road bike!"  "You will get so much more power with clips!"  "Your position will be so much more conducive to speed!")

The problem for me is, while I wouldn't say I am exactly cheap, I would say that I don't feel good dolling out a ton of money on something unless it is a major life improvement. I struggled to buy a bike since I already have a bike.  And, truth be told, I only really enjoy buying things when I don't have to pay full price or feel I am getting a deal of some sort.  I had been looking around at my friends about my height and asking them if they wanted to sell their road bikes.  I figured I could happily spend $500 on a used road bike and be able to live with it.

I was blissed out at Trader Joe's when Sandi moseyed over to Eastern Mountain Sports and found me a 54 cm road bike ON SALE and brand new for $540.  Not super fancy but very usable with a carbon fiber fork and WAY lighter than my current bike.  They told me to take it for a ride.  I, not prepared for bike shopping, was wearing sandals and a skirt.  I took a spin around the Trader Joe's parking lot, trying not to flash my underwear, nearly crashing into an elderly lady because everything was so unfamiliar and came back converted. 

Eastern Mountain Sports was also having a 20% off sale on all bike accessories which meant that I also got the clip shoes, the clip pedals, a much safer helmet and the bike shorts that had been the intended target of my birthday cash.  (I had been told not to buy bike shorts that cost less than $100 and I can attest that this is true.  The padding in the $50 pair I got for my birthday last year always moved around as I rode and was distracting and uncomfortable. These high test ones are awesome.)

I also convinced the guy to give me 30% off instead of 20.  AND he threw in a free water bottle cage.  I was wheeling and dealing with the best of them.

A couple of thoughts on my first ride: 

1.  I DID feel like I was flying. Like pushing a self-propelled lawn mower instead of a regular one.  The bike feels like it has its own forward momentum.

2.  The clips ARE scary to get used to.  Everyone says that you will be afraid of falling initially.  I only fell once so I figure I'm going alright.  After 2 rides I still don't have a good feel for how to clip in and I feel like a teenager learning to drive a stick shift. I sweat when I approach a light and take routes to avoid stopping altogether.

My speed has improved but not as dramatically as I thought.  On my old bike I averaged 14-14.5 miles an hour.  On my new bike I averaged 14.9.  I also was on a 5 day clean food cleanse (to purge the summer's "special occasions") so that may have slowed me down.  It will be interesting to see as the fear leaves me if I get faster.  That bike is SO fast that going down hills I brake because I feel I might spin out of control.  The bike and I are not yet ONE.  The gears and brakes are very different than my other bike so for now my main goal is to come home in one piece.

When I told her I got a road bike finally, Emilie asked, "What brand?"

Ummmm..... no idea.

Jamis!  It's a Jamis bike.  That still means nothing to me.  I know that it is a speedy devil and I pray it won't kill me.

My first ride Sandi and I rode together.  I took her on a route I knew well but later realized she did not.  There was a big hill that had a curve at the end followed by Route 1A.  I waited for her at the intersection at the bottom.  She came screeching around the corner at full speed and then had to swerve and brake fast to avoid going into traffic.

"You could have told me the road ended after that hill,"  she commented.  (I honestly hadn't even given it a thought.)  "Just because I have half a million in life insurance doesn't mean you have to try to get it."

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