At the end of a weekend tour in May, I hit one of Boston’s infamous potholes, head-on and fully loaded. I was lucky I didn’t go down as there was plenty of traffic at twilight. I knew on the spot (with my instantly flat tires) that the episode would set me back cash to replace a rim.
Some kids just hop on their bikes and dash all over without a care in the world. It seems each tour I go on, I get a little more cautious. I want my bike absolutely flawless starting out and I’m willing to pay for it. I figure extra cash on this side where it is prudent may make the trip smoother, leaving more time for biking and less time for slinking around remote villages looking bike bits.
The bike came out of the shop today. While I sit here drinking beer, I have to remind myself that even a fancy bike is cheaper than having a car. I like having bike confidence and I feel that Matt (a real hottie) and the folks at ATA Cycles had a grasp of what I was looking for when I said, “This bike needs to be bomb proof.”
For you bike geeks out there, this is what $600 bought me. If you’ve got input on my choices, I’d love to hear it, because undoubtedly there are more potholes in my future and I’ll probably drop bank again before the next summer’s tour.
Here the deal:
I’m on my Rodriguez with their straight shop setup. It’s all Campagnolo components. When I bought it I did not know Campy had serious snob appeal and cred. But it’s expensive, not always available, and will probably not be on my next bike as I want to do things like bike in Mongolia. This bike is treating me well though, and the more time I’m on it, the better I like my life.
This is the new stuff:
Mavic CX233 Rims, 36 spokes. FRONT AND BACK. They look good.
Shimano DeoreXT hub for the front wheel. The Campy was slightly pitted (I knew this from repair class). They thought this would be better than the Shimano Ultegra for touring and the Campy had to be ordered.
Fizik gel tape. I’ve never replaced the cork. It was certainly time. I think I kind of regret this choice, because it is oddly ugly. I hate their stupid logo and had Matt replace the end tape with plain black before I left.
Aztec II brakes, front and back. One thing I greatly dislike is when bike shops change specs without asking. We agreed to put on the Kool-Stop Eagles, which I like. The back one was shot and the front was replaced by the shop that replaced my cassette earlier this the year with some random cheap crap (and that was the end of my going there). Why there is Aztec on my bike, I do not know. I read about them online. They are supposed to be great in wet conditions, but we were holding the Kool-Stops in my hand in the shop…
Two new tires. Rear: Schwable Delta Cruiser. I wanted a Conti Top Touring 2000. This is the best tire I’ve ever had. They were out and would have to order it. They suggested the Schwable. The previous tire was a Schwable Marathon I picked up in France and I liked that fine. The second tire is my spare, a Continental Duraskin+K. Matt says it’s the best tire he’s ever used. But here’s one more bitch: I hate it when bike shops don’t give you back your old bits. I’m no hoarder, but due to not wanting breakdowns while biking in odd places, I am replacing bits that are not quite done. Certainly, my rear tire had lots of life left to it. (Those nasty, cheap brake in the front were almost new but hurt my sensibilities too much to want them back). I really wanted the old tire in my kit for my spare. Now I’ve got a new one instead. ATA does have a spot to request old bits back back, but I never saw it when we filled out the form, and so while we chatted about saving the old tire, there it went.
My cables are greased, I’ve got an extra tube, some extra spokes, a spoke wrench, and a couple new reflectors, as the silly boys took the old ones away. How am I ever going to be a Randonneur without wheel reflectors?
Finally, to get to that $600, my new Brooks saddle. I picked up the “ale”-colored saddle on Friday from Harris Cycles out in Newton. I saw my first Brooks in France, and have thought since then, (ludite that I am): I must have one. All weekend, when ever I felt a wave of pain-induced whinny bitchiness overtake me, I rubbed this saddle and positive energy flowed through me. I’m a bit concerned about keeping it out the rain (it’s the Seattlite in me) but other than getting used to a spot of color on my bike, I’m pretty stoked.
One thing I really liked in this repair episode was Matt taking time to shake my hand and wish me well on the trip. He asked that I come back when it’s done and tell them how it worked out so they could learn from it. That is cool and I will.
Tourers are an odd subset of cyclists, but when it comes to putting a bike through hell… we’ve got it going on.