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Oh Sh!t – the Bicycle Edition

April 30, 2011
by Erin B

Last summer the whole family spent a couple of weekends helping our friend, A, build a shed.  There was a house up the block who had a garage sale one of those weekends and there was a nice lady selling this 10 speed.  I have never ridden a 10 speed or any road bike before but I was inspired by Velouria of Lovely Bicycle who a few years ago started road biking on a Sam Hillborne

I can’t afford a Sam Hillborne, and while I know there is a big difference between a touring frame and a racing frame all diamond frame bikes look almost the same to me.  I can tell if the top bar is more or less angled or straight across but that’s about it.  On a bike like Victoria (a mixte or a step through bike) I have gotten pretty good at judging seat post angle and I can tell if it is one that will fit me or not.  It seems like the magic angle on an upright bike (for me) is about 70ish degrees.  Once the bike gets to 74+ degrees (so far) they haven’t fit as well.

Going from a very upright cycling posture to a very aggressive racing posture was going to be challenging and I knew it.  A cheap bike would be the way to go, right?  OK.  I’ll go for full disclosure here:  this bike has hearts lugged onto the underside of the bike.  That really contributed to my even asking about the price. In retrospect, maybe a bike where the top bar isn’t so straight across might have been a better bike to start with.

She said make me an offer.  I said $5.  She said $3 and she threw in what ever thingy T wanted.  It was not ride-able.  So I spend the winter taking it apart and cleaning it and putting it back together with new tires, cables, handle bar tape and a bargain bin seat from the local bike store.  All in, it is now a $70ish bike.

Today I took it for a ride.

This bike scares the poop out of me!  It feels so different.  It feels too fast and out of control.  And the thing is I know that isn’t the bike.  It’s me not being sure how to even hold on to the handle bars on the bike.   I feel just … different.

I am putting the bike (who I haven’t named) back into the garage until after the streets are cleaned.  The gravel added a whole extra layer of scary to the ride that I wasn’t prepared to handle.  In my very VERY short ride (about 5 blocks) I don’t think I got a fair impression of what the bike would be like to really ride.  I am not going to just give up on it.  I suspect it would be a better bike to take to the pool in the morning.

I realize this is going to sound ridiculous but even the little 5 minute toodle around the neighbourhood was so far out of my comfort range that I am very proud that I even did that.  Next time I will go a little farther.  It will get better.

However, that is another nail in the coffin of my hopes to triathlon this spring.  I can’t take Victoria to the race and I have no idea how long it will take me to get used to the Unnamed bike.

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