I started road cycling several years ago. At the time, my primary goal centered on a healthy, active lifestyle. I’ve always enjoyed riding, but my connection to the sport was purely casual. I would occasionally ride but not in a consistent manner. My trips were limited; short, easy excursions not too far from home. As I stepped up my game, I was riding a Trek hybrid that was easily 15 years old. The bike was perfect for my infrequent outings. If I’m honest, the bike sat dormant for a few years before I dusted it off, tuned it up, and put it back to good use.
I found the transition to regular riding very rewarding. I began riding longer distances and pushed myself towards more challenging terrain. I learned a lot about cycling in the weeks and months that followed my initial rides and realized the value of the right equipment and its positive impact on the overall experience. I needed to enhance my ride and needed modern equipment to do so. I figured the best place to start would be a proper bicycle shop. After asking a few fellow riders for their recommendations, I strode into a shop not far from home. Have you every walked into a decent cycle shop? For a novice rider, the initial experience can be eye-opening if not a bit overwhelming.
The shop was packed with all manner of bikes, clothing, and accessories. My original mission centered around the quick acquisition of a helmet and a pair of gloves. I achieved success with the purchase but my time in the store was far from expeditious. I spent several hours engaged in conversation with an employee/cyclist who enthusiastically clued me into the world of cycling. We spoke about everything from bikes and electronics to hydration strategies and bike etiquette. The interaction stoked my desire to commit and pushed me to raise the bar.
As I left with new headgear and padded hand protection, I made a deal with myself. Simply put, if I could manage a thousand miles on my arcane equipment during the riding season, I would purchase a grown-up road bike. As I perused the racks of bikes earlier that day, I knew the acquisition be an expensive proposition. Today’s bikes are lighter, faster, and technological advanced compared to the dinosaur I was currently riding. Questions loomed large about frame type, components, pedals, wheels, and lights. It seems like a lot to think about when you consider that it is just a bike. That, however, is the crux of the issue. A cyclist and their bike need to be compatible. Let me put it this way, on any given day a cyclist could spend several hours in the saddle. Lack of a proper relationship could leave the rider uncomfortable and less willing to ride. A bike that has been properly fitted and provisioned serves to ensure a positive experience regardless of the hours pedaling in a day.
The end of that summer found me pushing fifteen hundred miles on my old chromolly Trek. I was immensely proud of my achievement, having attained 150% of my goal. Satisfied with the results, I set my sights on a new ride.
With the decision to move forward in the rearview mirror, the hard work of choosing the right bike began. I scoured the Internet for information. I leveraged manufacturer websites, and those of bike shops, bloggers, enthusiasts, and others. After exhaustive research, I narrowed my decision and visited my favorite bike shop to make a deal. The bike I settled on was a Specialized Roubaix (pronounced Roo-BAY). This was the configuration:
Specialized SL3 Expert – Carbon FiberFrame
Shimano Ultegra Components – Shifter Controls, Brakes, Crank,
Specialized Racing Saddle
Shimano Dura-Ace SPD-SL Pedals – These pedals and cleats offer
greater surface area for increased stroke efficiency compared to
traditional SPD implementations
Zipp 404 Clincher Wheels – These wheels offer a deep carbon fiber
rim construction with an integrated aluminum braking surface
Michelin Pro4 Endurance Tires
It took a few weeks for the parts to arrive but once they did, the shop integrated everything, and the bike was ready for final adjustments. A few hours in the shop with me atop the new bike and all was set. I was ready for my first ride but given that the final preparations were completed during a snowy January there was little hope for any significant outdoor riding. Winter weather persisted for the for the next several weeks, and I was forced to ride indoors. No worries, though. Indoor time was well spent and served as an excellent way to become comfortable with the new platform. It also provided time to work out a few kinks in the gearing.
As the winter abated and the daytime temperatures began to rise, I took to the road with a renewed sense of excitement and commitment. I have ridden thousands of miles since and enjoyed every minute atop this configuration. The last two years, however, have been busy with other commitments, primarily work and travel related. As a result, my riding suffered greatly. That will change this year.
2017 is the year to reconnect with my passion for riding. I have prepared the bike and have it setup for indoor riding during the balance of the winter months. Hopefully, old man winter will be gracious and provide a few days that are warm and dry enough for an outdoor ride or two. Until then, I’ll be riding on rollers or my trainer with my friends on Zwift.
What’s Zwift you ask? Check it out here. Do you Zwift? I’m just getting started and hope to get my first rides in this week. Let’s ride together. I can be found on Zwift as Bernie Baker.
How are you getting through the cold winter months? I’d love to hear about your strategies to keep it interesting when indoors.
What’s up for the next post? An Introduction to electronics, software tools, and social media. It’s all about tracking, sharing, and maybe a little bragging.
Until next time, always move forward and remember…