Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Return of an Old Friend

One of my New Year's resolutions was to bring back my road bike. Not that she ever went anywhere, per se... But for the past (and I hate to admit this) 3 years or so, she's been hanging out in the closet.

After taking her into Truly Spokin' of Pensacola, my favorite bike guru Victor (husband of massage therapist extraordinaire, Shelly), restored her to her original glory. And in doing so, my Steffi (after Steffi Graf) came home! And today, we had our first ride together in a long time.

I got Steffi a few years ago, 6 - to be exact. I was still at Madison, finishing up my junior year of college. Madison - many of you know it as IMMOO - is a very large campus, and I used my trusty, 20-year old Trek road bike to get around. The Trek was my mode of transportation, to class, to events, to meetings, to Nathaniel... I rode that bike everywhere.

One day, my bike was stolen. Not only is UW-Madison a great campus, one of the top public universities in the nation, but it also takes the cake as the bike-theft-capitol-of-the-world. Great. And my bike was just another casualty. In fact, annually there are so many stolen bikes, that the Madison police department created a separate division for bicycle theft. Nice.

After a police report, and sad phone call to Mom and Dad, my mood was pretty down. I was not only minus a great bike (remember: I form emotional attachments to items), but had no transportation on campus. Sure, I could use the bus, but let's face it: nothing beats a well-loved bike.

However, after a few phone calls between my Mom and my parent's insurance company, it was worked out that I could get a new bike under Mom and Dad's home owner's insurance policy. I was SO HAPPY! A new bike!!!

George, a friend of mine and Nathaniel's, who was training for IMMOO, mentioned that he would be happy to take me out looking for a new bike. As my Trek was 20 years old, I really had no idea about modern bikes, what to look for, what to get, etc. (Or even, how to bike - as I later found out after attempting a group ride for the first time). George was happy to help, and before I knew it, we had visited a handful of stores across Madison. I was grateful for his patience, knowledge, support, and kindness. He was awesome! (And he did great at his first IM - we cheered him on as he ran by us on Observatory Drive).

I tried several different kinds, but when I sat on Steffi, I was sold. She was a Giant OCR-1, and beautiful! I loved the feeling of flying down the road, of the soft whirrrrr of the wheels, the click of the gears, the smooth sensation of the ride, and the lack of noise!

Let's remember: my Trek was 20 years old. It was a bit rusty, it squeaked, was in desperate need of a tune-up, and made odd clicking noises on a regular basis. Nathaniel once commented that he could hear me coming before I arrived.


Over the next few years, I rode Steffi more and more. From the rural countryside of Wisconsin, down to the flats of Eastern North Carolina, I fell in love with biking and with triathlon on that bike. Steffi was my escape from studying, from dealing with the stress of school. She was always there for me when Nathaniel was deployed, and she provided a great outlet for me to stay active and in shape.

We weren't always the fastest ones out there, but our hearts were pure. Slow and steady - we pedaled along, enjoying the scenery, views, and time together.

A year or so after I started competing in triathlons, I got my current bike Sjofin. She's wonderful, everything I could have ever wanted in a tri bike. And slowly, Sjofin became my ride of choice, and Steffi stayed in the closet or back room.

But she was okay with that, being the "older" of the two bikes.

And faithfully she remained, ready and waiting for the next ride.

A few weeks ago, I decided that it was about time that I got my trusty road bike out. I've been riding my tri bike for so long, and was looking for an opportunity to build my road biking. It was suggested to me by many many many people, that I do some training on a road bike.

So out Steffi came, was turned over to Victor, who took great care of her, and I picked her up yesterday.

She looked as good as new, only cleaner, happier - with new bar tape and a new big ring, rear cog, chain, and a few other things that had never been replaced (in 3 years of riding... see, I really didn't know what I was doing...). After a few power tests to determine the most ideal position, Victor had me all set. We played around with the seat position, bar tilt, and seat height. After taking a few measurements, Victor gave me the "all clear" sign, and I was set.

And today - well, today we had our first ride in 3+ years!

Nothing too big, nothing too grand. In fact, it was on the trainer - as I had to do it later in the evening. But it was wonderful, although a bit awkward. The workout itself was pretty fun: a lot of max cadence sets and rpm work. So that wasn't a big deal.

But there were a few things that I couldn't get over.

First - the front end looks naked! There's NOTHING in front of you except for the handlebars. NO AEROBARS!! Yikes! (Victor - a true roadie - joked that it was "clean"...).

Second - there are wires everywhere. On my tri bike, everything is tucked in, whereas with Steffi, all the cables and wires are on the outside of the frame

Third - the water bottle cadges are on the down tube, not behind me. Instead of reaching behind me, I'll have to reach between my legs for water. Great! (No peeing in the saddle... not that that's ever happened).

Fourth - I've got 3 rings: a little one, middle one, and big one. ON the tri bike, I've got two. Still can't tell you what they are or what the gears mean, but I'm learning...

Fifth - The reach to the handlebars is SO LONG. The top tube is long, and I don't quite know what to make of all the extra space. Victor mentioned that I needed to keep my elbows slightly bent... to prevent my upper back and shoulders from tweaking and getting tense. All I can say is we'll see!

But it's wonderful having her home again. Not that she was ever really gone, but now she's been tuned up, cleaned, has new parts, and is ready to ride.

I'll still have Sjofin for intense pieces and time trial stuff, but for the longer stuff, my new best friend will be Steffi. Welcome home!


Beth said...

I love riding my road bike! Much easier to climb on and a little more comfortable too...but I can definitely see why tri bikes are for racing because they are much faster! Anyway, have fun with Steffi! :)

Donna Stullken said...

Good Afternoon, Marit! It's Donna, we met this morning at the UWF pool. I'd love to talk some more and pick your brain about triathlon! My email is ldonna808@hotmail.com and cell 850-748-8758. You're blog is GREAT! I've had a long going affair with peanut m&m's too. Mmm Mmm!