Friday, February 16, 2018


     I'm not breaking new ground when proclaiming that racing is addictive.  My first posts declare I just got into it as a way of staying in shape for my biking vacations.  And I repeated that for years, mainly because it is true, or was at the time it was written.  But, I've evolved.  This entry is a timeline of how that happened.
     In 2004 I entered four Senior Games races one week-end, two time trials and two road races.  I did not finish last, although not even close to podium times.  It was this week-end I learned the value of aero bars.  I had had them for several years and knew that they gave me about 2 mph plus a different position to rest my back.  I didn't think it would make much difference in a 5k tt.  Lesson learned.
     As I completed more Senior Games I determined that time trials were more my style, so I concentrated on them.  I would enter one road race just for the training.   Senior Games are configured into five-year categories so it isn't too hard to podium, in that the groups are generally less than ten competitors each.  Therefore, in the following years I would collect mostly bronze, an occasional silver, and a couple of golds when the fast guys didn't show up.
     The addiction to podiums started creeping up on me.  I could continue to use my titanium road bike with aero bars or obtain a time trial bike, which I did.  Immediately my bronze were replaced by silver and gold.  Then I upgraded to my Felt B2 Pro and became a regular on the top spot.  Now I'm really hooked.
     Bike vacations are receding as I get older, although Velo View Bike Tours has a few in Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky that I'd like to do.  Last year after doing well at Nationals I decided to up my game and procured a coach to help make that happen.  I also determined that I'd like to be more than fodder in road races.  As I learned when switching to a time trial bike, equipment makes a big difference.  And so, as my previous post revealed, I have a bike that is quicker than the Roark.
     I awoke early this morning (2:56 am) and was wide awake so sat down to contemplate the world.  Part of my musings fell upon the new bike and why I bought it.  And why I have a coach.  The new season at The Driveway is right around the corner.  Up to seventy-five people sign up for each race.  Truthfully, only a handful have a chance of winning, and probably only half have a chance at the top twenty (which gets your name published as a finisher).  Why race?  Because it is fun no matter where you place.  It is addictive.  Unfortunately, I have gone a step further and have become addicted to top podium finishes.  True, it is a big fish in a small pond and I am always aware of that. Dani posted pictures of their riding mountain bikes out in the desert.  That looks like fun.  Hmmmm.

Thursday, February 8, 2018


     My last new bike purchase was in 2008, a Felt B2 time trial (or triathlon) bike.  I will skip the good story about this, other than it is scary fast and propelled me to multiple podium finishes.  Jack, of Jack and Adams, spent over an hour getting me fitted and here it is ten years later and it still looks and rides like new.
     In 2004 my friends Ray and Byran invited me to ride the John Wayne Trail in Washington State.  Ray even provided the bike (a $2,000 Weyless), since I had never been on a mountain bike before (the whole story can be found in Bicycle Journeys with Jerry, Amazon or Barnes and Noble).  I didn't buy that bike, as nice as it was, but shortly after decided that I would include rail trails on my travel itinerary (see Gotta Go!).  Ray volunteered to work me up a nice one (KHS).  It doesn't get used much anymore, although I took it to Arkansas for a Velo View Bike Tour (gravel) last year.
     What does get used a lot is my custom titanium Roark bike, purchased in 2001 after my coast-to-coast ride.  We had stopped by the Roark factory, given a tour and talk, and one of us bought one on the spot.  It was apparently a great bargain, but he later confessed he used the money set aside for his upcoming wedding to make the purchase.  Don't know how that went down with the fiance.  I, on the other hand, waited until returning home and discussing with my wife.  Alexis at Bicycle Sport Shop offered me a good deal on a LeMond Titanium (and let me take it to Hotter'n Hell Hundred, which convinced me I needed a Ti bike). I opted for the more expensive Roark and traveled to Indianapolis to be "fitted," receiving the bike just before Christmas.
     All of this background is my way of showing that I don't do a lot of bike buying and I really don't like shopping (not just for bikes, but in general).  So, after deciding that I'd like to be a bit more serious about racing (not just time trials), and acquiring a coach to help make that happen, the next logical step would be to get a bike faster than the Roark.
     I'll digress into the decision, in that it presented a conundrum.  The Roark is light, and when I substitute my Zipp wheels, it is fast enough to keep me competitive.  Up until the final acceleration, when I wave good-by to my companions.  If I convert it to a more racing setup, I lose the gearing I need for climbing mountains.  I like riding in the mountains.  I could buy, or work up, an older bike to ride in the mountains or I could buy a racing bike and leave the Roark alone.  Enter Allen.
     I was talking with Todd one day explaining my dilemma and he suggested I get with Allen, who has a large inventory of really nice bikes.  He mentioned one in particular that he knew Allen had.  Well, we did get together and I was blown away with all the great bikes available.  Weather delayed getting back for some road testing, but a few weeks ago I got to test ride four bikes with Allen.  The day before I'd previewed a nice Pinarello with Di2 shifting and it was impressive.
     I have to believe it was salesmanship and not chance that the first bike offered was a Trek Emonda.  Another digression: when my exercise of choice was running, buying shoes had to give me that "ah!" fit.  Nikes, New Balance and Reebok were all acceptable, but Asics gave me the "ah!" feeling and have been my shoe brand for the last thirty years.  The Emonda elicited the same feeling when I took it around the block.  I gave it a few climbing and acceleration tests and was amazed at the responsiveness.  I came back and then tried a very nice Cannondale, then another which name escapes me.  These were good, better than the Roark, but not great.  I challenged Allen to find a bike that would knock the Emonda off its pedestal.  He came up with a Madrone.  Oooh!  Very nice. I rode a red and white one, but he had a very pretty green and white (previously seen at The Driveway under the capable form of CD4).  This came in a very close second.   Yes, Todd had tipped the Emonda for me all along.  I just had to try it for myself.
     Allen could get me the Madrone with 10 speed Di2 shifting (matching both the Roark and Felt in case I wanted to change wheels) for a substantial sum less than the Emonda, which had  11 speed Dura Ace mechanical.  I used the same reasoning in going with the Emonda as I did with the Roark: always buy the best, you will never be disappointed.  I've had 17 years of superior riding with the Roark, so have no doubt the Emonda will be just as satisfying.