New Wheels

I got a new bike. I haven’t had a lot of those in my life. I rode hand me downs from a  neighbor and my mom until I bought my first new bike in high school. It was a ten speed, in Kraft dinner orange (this was 1972) and it was cool. It was stolen my sophomore year in college and I replaced it with a burgundy Gitane 10 speed, which I had for many years, eventually giving it away after one too many crashes. No more skinny tires and dropped handlebars for me.

My next bike, acquired circa 1990, was an early mountain bike, with fat tires and a heavy frame. Bright green, it was known as the pickle bike. It was replaced several years back by my current bike, a low-end Specialized mountain bike, with 21 gears, and a spring-loaded fork. Its been a trusty friend, used mostly for my short commute to work, and slightly longer rides to the Y. This past year, I’ve been riding more, often on the trails around town, some paved, some not. This bike is stable, strong and has served me well.

ole blue
My sturdy mountain bike, ol blue

As I’ve begun my triathlon training, I’ve become increasingly aware that the thick knobby tires of my bike create a lot of rolling resistance, and for the riding that will be in a triathlon, its way more tire than is needed. So I’ve been contemplating getting a “hybrid” bike for a while. A hybrid is as its name suggests, a mix between a mountain bike and a road bike, keeping the upright riding position and sturdier frame of the mountain bike, while adding somewhat thinner tires and gearing ratios closer to those of a road bike. I hadn’t gotten around to doing much more than thinking about it until late last week.

A little way into what I had planned to be a long ride last Thursday morning, my seat started feeling loose and wobbly. I stopped and checked; the seat was indeed loose, and I coasted very carefully back home. As it turned out, something had broken in the spring mechanism in the seat post. I couldn’t get it back together, and later that day when I went to my local bike shop, they couldn’t fix it either. They did have a new post, so that bike is again functional.

I was finally in the bike shop, so while they were working on my broken seat post, I started looking at hybrid bikes. Coming from work, I wasn’t dressed for a ride, but I returned the next afternoon and did some test riding. As it turned out, they had a 2015 Specialized Vita sport hybrid in my frame size. It rides well, fits me, and now I’ve got a new bike! Its lighter (4 pounds!!), has smaller and smoother tires than a mountain bike, and I can change to different tires if I feel the need. And now I have lever shifters and disc brakes.  Pretty fancy.

Vita, my sleek new ride

I took Vita out this morning for my first big ride, trying out the course for next month’s race. The ride went well, I was comfortable with the riding position, which is slightly different from my mountain bike. Riding, the bike feels secure and responsive, and the rolling resistance is definitely less. I’m getting the hang of my new shifting mechanism (both a thumb and finger lever on each side, which takes some getting used to), and the brakes work well and smoothly. A fine new beginning. I’m happy with how its going so far, and now I’m investigating how to store another bike in the garage.

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