Sunday, May 15, 2011

Perfect Just the Way You Are

In describing my experience in a paceline training ride earlier, I had written that my Rivendell was not the right bike for that ride. Subsequently, I've received some suggestions for how to make it faster - including getting narrower tires, installing "brifters," removing the saddlebag, rack and fenders, and stripping off the dynamo lighting. While I appreciate the advice and agree that all of that may indeed improve my paceline performance, I do not plan to make any changes to this bicycle. Right now, I have a bicycle that is perfect for me as a touring bike. Why turn something that's perfect for one activity into something that's okay but not ideal for another?

In stating that my Rivendell was not the right bike for a racing team-sponsored paceline ride, I was by no means criticising it or expressing unhappiness with it. I was merely reiterating a simple fact: Touring bikes are not racing bikes.

A touring bicycle is about exploration and about experiencing one's surroundings. You cannot do that when cycling 6" behind someone's rear wheel at 20mph.

A touring bike is about the long haul and about going at one's own pace.  I use the computer as a handlebar-mounted clock and odometer more than I use it as a speedometer - because "how far" is a more interesting question for this bike than "how fast."

A touring bike is about the freedom of going anywhere, without having to cultivate the handling skills of a pro racer. Comfortable geometry and stable handling enable novice and experienced cyclists alike to ride. My bicycle is easy, and its wide, cushy tires make me immune to most of the fears that plague cyclists on modern roadbikes: potholes, rain, sand, uneven terrain - bring them on. I can even wear nice clothing while I'm at it, because the fenders will protect me from road grime. And with my bright, dynamo-generated lights I can cycle through the night and not worry about batteries.

A touring bike is a home away from home. In my saddlebag, on the day this picture was taken I carried: a large DSLR camera, a sweater, a hat, an apple, a notebook, a fountain pen, a bar of chocolate, a saddle cover, gloves, sunscreen, a lock and a mini pump. And that's nothing compared to what I could have brought had I also attached my handlebar bag. Setting off on a racing bike limits you to a training ride and nothing more. On a touring bike a ride can start out as one thing and morph into another. Groceries can be involved, or a spontaneous visit to a friend's house. Who knows!

Riding a touring bike is an organic experience. My Rivendell's steel, brass, canvas, leather, twine, shellac and rubber fit harmoniously with its riding style and with my enjoyment of exploring nature. It is not about competing with nature with ever-more-efficient materials and aerodynamic postures, but about simply existing.

In turning this bicycle into a performance-oriented bike, I would essentially be giving up the very things that make it special. And that would be a shame.

Sure, we may be curious about pacelines and racing.

But not at the expense of smelling the flowers. Some bicycles are perfect just the way they are.

68 comments:

  1. Gee, I didn't know anyone was trying to suggest you convert your Rivendell into a racing bike. That makes no sense at all. Bikes are designed for different purposes and the Rivendell would never cut it as a racing bike. Enjoy it for what it is and for what you initially bought it for, and if speeding along the road with others give you a high then consider finding the appropriate bike for those occasions. They are quite easy to find!

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  2. What a lovely post! I'm a lurker of your blog and just wanted to stop by to say your posts have inspired me in so many ways. I spend every spring dreaming of purchasing the perfect bicycle and this spring, with the help of your blog, I finally took the first step and bought a vintage 3-speed. The improvements will be slow, but I am so excited about integrating cycling into my daily life. You've made me a little bit braver--thank you.

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  3. Why not use your "Celeste"?
    You're quite right not to want to change a hair of the lovely Rivendell.

    Beautiful day here, time for a bike ride.

    Richard

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  4. quite right. I feel the same about my Hewitt Audax bike, always has its mudguards and saddlebag on. It also gives the folks on their carbon fibre rocket bikes somewhere to put their stuff.

    I do sometimes feel at a disadvantage though so I've put my Ribble together sans mudguards etc. Whilst it is still steel and relatively heavy, it does make the faster rides a bit easier.

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  5. A post of reassuring comforts for the touring bike riders. Now and then I ride with a group. Great people, but still there's the nudging compulsion to "keep up" with the razor-tire, road bikes.

    Thanks for reminding me of my own real reasons to ride. They bear a remarkable family resemblance to yours.

    bob

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  6. Velouria...

    You have learned a great truth... the mythical all-purpose bicycle is just that... picking the correct bicycle for the ride... increases your enjoyment of the ride... not to mention the inherent safety benefit to you as a rider.

    Your recent experience with the Urbana is a clear example of this... and if one bike could do it all... there would be no reason to own more than one bike... now that would be a tragedy...

    The Grouch

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  7. Great post! Makes me want to put some wider tires, fenders, and brass bell on my road bike.

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  8. Well said(as usual). Just do what I do and have one bike for every application. Light touring bike, commuter, go-fast road bike, cyclocross bike, antique......


    P.S. Love the cat pics. I took my cat outside on a leash once but he was very freaked out. Too many sights and sounds, completely overwhelmed.

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  9. He certainly is!

    And I love the photo of your cat on a leash. :)

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  10. The only thing about a getting a 'road bike' are the amount of people selling them on CL. It seems after being 'uphold' at the LBS, they discovered that what they really wanted was a triple cranked touring bike. I have read the phrase 'my loss is your gain' too many times to count.

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  11. I am one of those who likes to go further rather than faster, though I have friends who like to go both further and faster and have dedicated bikes for each. You are a photographer,and I can't imagine the view of the cycle jersey in front of you would satisfy you for long. Your touring bike is a beautiful fit in both form and function.

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  12. Alfred FickensherMay 15, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    BRAVO!
    Wonderful essay.
    alf

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  13. Oh yes, I agree completely. Well said.

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  14. G__ damn Velouria!

    I really hate mindless love fests on blogs where people's comments simply say "You're so awesome, I love your blog!"

    However, I'm so compelled to say I just love your voice. It is so clear, unapologetic though always polite, and a complete pleasure to read on a daily basis.

    I was so stressed out reading about the paceline and got the final line and laughed because OF COURSE that's what you wanted the reader to understand.

    Okay, enough touchy feely commenting from me...

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  15. Unless you are actually racing - as in trying to win a contest, the workout is no different. I would not be shy about riding my cross bike in a group - I would be much more nervous about their notions about how to safely ride around motor traffic. OTOH, I don't have a bell on my cross bike.

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  16. Here, Here! you said it, keep a touring bike a touring bike. I have a perfect Miyata 610 touring bike and I love its comfortable stance and can go on long exploring rides. It is what is it - a bicycle made for the long haul. I wouldn't change a thing about it.

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  17. It all sounds like a great reason to buy more bikes.

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  18. Please, please don't change anything on that bike. It's perfect, in a way: It works for you and we all love it. It really is a "lovely bicycle."

    Oh, and the kitteh is uh-daw-uh-bull.

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  19. John - You've read my mind! : )

    Sort of. I'll actually be selling two of my bikes soon. And I will most likely be borrowing a bike to do the paceline rides.

    But yes, I think that for those who are interested in very different types of cycling - and actually do each of them enough to justify it - owning several, activity-specific bikes is the way to go. Racing bike, touring bike, fixed gear bike, transportation bike, mountain bike, etc - there is little overlap between their capabilities.

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  20. Now he just needs to have room for the Feline and he'll be beyond perfect! He'll be Purrrrfect.... ;)

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  21. I figure when the handlebar bag is not attached, we can fit one of those Basil pet baskets onto the front rack. But first, CyclingPeppy needs to overcome her agoraphobia; we've been trying to get her used to walking around outside on a leash...

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  22. The amount of overlap depends on the ability of the rider. In your post you are talking about your subjective feelings toward your Riv, which is fine, but you are mixing absolutes about racing bikes that aren't necessarily true.

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  23. Of course. I am talking in extremes. But what I mean is, that even removing the saddlebag from the Rivendell - which would go a long way toward improving its aerodynamics - would decrease its usefulness in the capacity of a touring bike and would not be worth it for me.

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  24. V, I love this post :). Your Sam H is a very lucky bicycle!

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  25. I get that, tho the saddlebag can be stashed in someones car on a training ride, picked up when it's over and it's still a touring bike. Kind of related to your comment about finding new ways to combat certain problems in the ghettofiets post.

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  26. Peppy (the also, isn't it time to feed me cat)May 15, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    Agoraphobia, I has it.

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  27. Can't believe you can fit all that in your saddlebag. It looks deceptively small, sorta like a clown car.

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  28. Charming pix of you holding cat!

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  29. I myself have been a lurker on your blog for a good while now and I am falling in love with your writing. Like you I tend to have stuff more for function and what not. I am turning one bike to a camping bike in a sense. But as the others have said I wouldn't change a thing about the Riv she's a sweet ride.
    Cheers
    Jim

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  30. Agreed - The Riv is setup nicely for it's many intended purposes. GP must like seeing articles like these about his bikes as what you describe is how I belive he intended the bike to be used.

    Surely among all of your bikes, there must be another one that would be more suitable for paceline riding. The large-ish Bianche comes to mind. I spend many an hour in pacelines on a Bianchi in the 80's and ealy 90's. Or perhaps the Royal H.

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  31. I can't wait to read your review and perceptions about the bicycle you will choose for your pace line rides. And yes, the Rivendell is perfect just the way it looks.

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  32. love it. And I agree with the whole idea. what you describe is exactly what I want in a bicycle.

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  33. Cat on a leash! If only our cat would tolerate such indignities, my little boy would be in heaven.

    Agree about the bike -- surprised people are suggesting you mess w it.

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  34. Thanks for the cat compliments : )
    More pictures here...

    GR Jim - The leather straps would wear off very soon if I attached and detached the bag every time, plus knowing me I'd end up leaving it - along with my wallet and phone - in someone's car. I guess in this case I feel that "ghettofying" the Riv is not the best solution.

    Also, re the earlier comment about it not making as much of a difference for stringer riders. I don't see how that would work. Are you saying that a strong cyclist would be equally fast on a touring bike and racing bike? How?.. I am sure that a Cat 2 cyclist would be faster on a touring bike than I would be on even the fastest of racing bikes. But they would still be at a disadvantage compared to peers of equivalent strength who would be on racing bikes.

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  35. ^ "stringer riders" = stronger riders

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  36. neighbourtease - It took us over two years to get to a point where she sort of kind of tolerates a leash, within a yard's distance from home.

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  37. I love the cat pictures. We too are trying to get one of our cats used to being outside on a leash so that we can get a bike pet basket and become our Picnic Cat. Though she loves to dart outside when we have the door open for a millisecond too long, she still gets nervous when we take her anywhere not around the house.
    I can't wait until she does get used to being outside and we can bike to the beach with her.

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  38. A CAT on a bicycle? Mine would not be groovy with that idea.

    I did ride a race on my Shogun with fenders, a rack, a sprung Brooks saddle and a giant saddlebag full of stuff. When I realized how much fun I had, I took EVERYTHING -- including the kickstand -- off the bike. I replaced the big saddlebag with a small one and the sprung saddle with a B-17. For now, it's what I have to work with. I have a Raleigh Super Course mixte frame -- it's a slightly lighter, higher quality frame. I'll build that slightly weight-weenie-ish. And that's as road bike as I will probably get. I see touring in my future, not so much road riding, so I am loathe to put too much effort into a "real road bike."

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  39. In defense of those who suggested you modify the Riv, me being one, it was based upon your stated desire to not spend a lot of money while maintaining a comfortable ride. Quite practical, I thought.

    Re: saddlebag. Good enough reason to not use the Riv for training rides. Ghettofiets was a term I used to describe hanging bags from your Gazelle; by no means was I inferring a similar look for your Riv. It was meant to describe a mindset of adaptability.

    I am def not saying a rider would be equally fast on a touring bike as a pure race bike. I’m saying you don’t necessarily, but can if you want, need to bring a gun to a gunfight. Sometimes a spoon will do if you are strong enough.

    A cat 2 is a cat 2 because they have the genes and training to be that fast. If he (she) is racing against other cat 2s then of course he’s going to bring the latest weapon. A cat 2 in a cat 5 race can ride a lesser machine and still win. I’m going to invoke a pro race god here: Sean Kelly. He rode the crappiest, noodliest bike out there and just destroyed people. Absolutely awe-inspiring.

    Your position isn’t like his because you admittedly haven’t trained per se, but have ridden utility miles, which is helpful but don’t begin to approach the intensity you need to ride with the faster girls.

    To get fast it’s necessary to put in hard miles and change one’s diet to change one’s body. This isn’t a criticism or a recommendation, it’s just the reality. If your goal is just to keep up and learn, that's different. Your peers will also change as your fitness changes.

    So by all means beg, borrow or steal a racey bike for training, but as the French guy commented in the paceline post: a strong pedal force is all you need.

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  40. I love this post. Sam, you are perfect, just as you are.

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  41. Peppy the cat whose time it is to be fed said: "Agoraphobia, I has it..

    Don't you mean Angora-phobia, Peppy?

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  42. I could not agree more with this blog. I ride a Bridgestone RBT, which is an early '90s touring bike from the Grant Peterson era at Bridgestone. It is a wonderful combination of sensible speed and "see the countryside" aesthetics. I have tried to keep it so, adding a Brooks sprung saddle, a rack and a Baggins saddlebag. My personal belief is that cycling is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. I like to ride hard on occasion, but I also enjoy just kicking back and feeling the natural world around me. The ability to carry a picnic lunch complete with a nice vintage wine doesn't hurt either. Stopping at a friendly local cafe along the route is also a pleasure. I keep a different bike for commuting/utility rides.

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  43. Good idea to leave this bike as is and use a different one for the group rides. Personally I`d keep the bike and ride with a different group..

    Started riding with the cats this spring. Mostly in the cage, but also in a basket in the front, protected from the wind. They do not like it much but are getting used. Rushed to the bus with a cat cage w cat on a folder.
    badmother

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  44. Funny, I just heard a story on NPR about Robert Penn's book 'It's All About the Bike--The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels' Good story about his life long passion with bicycles and his decision to make 'the perfect bike for him', the one that he will ride into the sunset :)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qo2EodFXJPg
    The story can be heard on NPR, but the video shows a passionate gut very happy to see it's completion.

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  45. somebody send V some barcons for her bianchi, and maybe some 700x23 or 25c tires for it. The frame weight and friction shifting won't prevent her from keeping up with the 12-15mph group ride, and for relatively cheap investment, she can have another go with proper gear ratios and rubber before anything extravagant is purchased. I think the tires and the wide/low gearing held ya back more'n the fenders and bags.

    Major upgrade$ to the Bianchi are as goofy an idea as trying to make the Riv a race bike. To buy an actual modern race bike before planning to enter any actual modern races is even goofier. For $100 or less, the bianchi can get the job done, and leave a few components to use in a future build.

    just my $.02.
    -rob

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  46. Richard & Rob - I've been thinking about this since Tuesday. I don't want to make any changes to the Bianchi, because they will diminish its resale value (it currently has the original vintage Campagnolo components) and I do plan to resell the bike at some point later this summer for a number of reasons.

    I now have the opportunity to borrow a bike for the rides, and I think that is my best option. I do not plan to buy a new bike until I am darn sure that I will stick with this kind of cycling in the long run.

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  47. On the borrowed bike take the time to adjust it to a proper riding position. Your seat height looks awfully low in many photos and that can be problematic when trying to obtain maximum efficiency on the pedal stroke and keep up on those hills. Oh, and I can't even begin to tell you how much good shoes and clipless pedals can help.....This type of riding can be every bit as poetic :) Good luck and kudos!

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  48. This post reminded me of the issue I seem to have every summer with shoes--was just trying to explain to my bf why I was looking for the PERFECT pair of summer shoes that were cool and comfortable to walk in, good for biking, yet also adorable and not dowdy. Oh, and that yes, I can wear out to dinner, say. The problem of course is that no one pair of shoes can do all this. I'm impressed that you've decided to carry on with the pace line rides, but yeah--sounds as if you need a new pair of "shoes" rather than try to try to wear your favorite sneakers out to dinner at a fancy restaurant, so to speak.

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  49. Anon 8:24 - I get very close to full leg extension with my current saddle position and cannot safely raise it any higher given how I mount and dismount the bike. The paceline leaders had no problem with it, so at least that's reassuring.

    I am terrified of riding clipless, and learning it while doing these rides will just be too stressful. I should have started practicing in the winter on the trainer, but I didn't and now have no time to practice it in addition to all the actual cycling I do. I did not receive any pressure to switch to clipless, so hopefully I will be all right with my powergrips.

    The borrowed bike will be adjusted professionally, so should be all right. I guess it's more accurate to describe it as a sponsored bike: I will be using it in exchange for banner placement (Ride Studio Cafe). More on all of this later.

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  50. Well said! Your bike is lovely just the way it is, as you said, and perfect for you! BTW I love the lavender with the green!

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  51. Borrowed bikes are great; just don't crash it. =D As for barcons and new tires on the Bianchi: you could swap the shifters and tires in an afternoon, and swap the originals (surely, the tires ain't original) back on some other afternoon, with no impact on resale. Cold-setting the frame, as others had suggested, would be quite different.

    But, absolutely, a good borrowed bike beats having to get new shifters and tires. If you hate everything about the borrowed bike, just remember that having some close gear-ratios on the higher side is good for cadence in these rides, and the tires will have a huge impact on rolling resistance, rotational weight, and high PSI. If you're on aluminum or CF, and you hate the ride, or you hate the components and geo of the thing, for what you're doing so far, any halfway decent/sorta light frame with skinny 700c tires and road-appropriate gearing (read: unlike what you have on pretty much all of your keepers) will get you by on the training rides you've described lately.

    -rob

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  52. Rob - I would need "brifters" on the Bianchi, not barcons. The latter were problematic for me on the first ride I did, given that all the other girls had brifters and could shift instantaneously, without moving their hands from the bars. And brifters would be a real headache to install, given all the other changes that would involve.

    I test-rode the borrowed bike a couple of weeks ago (had no idea I'd be going on paceline rides then; the testride was unrelated), so I know I won't hate it. I am however nervous descending on it at speed for the first time whilst in a paceline and think that I should become more familiar with its handling first. So I am still trying to figure out the logistics. Oh, and I am not liable for the bike if I crash it... and they are not liable if I injure myself. 2-Way waivers are involved!

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  53. I'm glad you got the 2-way waiver in effect; CYA is a good policy. As for brfiters, well, ppl have participated in pacelines for quite a long time before brifters, and they continue to do so today. I know you've made your mind up, and now you absolutely gotta have a brifter bike, but I wouldn't want your readers to think that this is an actual requirement to ride in a paceline. I've seen ppl ride in pacelines with no shifters at all.

    Have fun getting to know the loaner bike before the next group ride.

    -rob

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  54. While I agree in both theory and practice that it's awfully nice to have a different bicycle for every application (sometimes more than one), there is also something slightly perverse and obsessive and overconsumptive about it. It's definitely uniquely American.

    The reality is, we could do just about everything we need to do with one decent bike, which the SH certainly qualifies as. Having a "race bike" is not going to magically end your suffering on these paceline training sessions. It's a different kind of riding than the solo riding you normally do.

    To me, you actually lessen the functionality of a bicycle by worrying about wearing out the leather straps by taking the bag on and off whenever you think it's necessary. In fact, I would propose an interesting experiment for you and your blog: ride the Hillborne exclusively for 60 days and see what happens.


    Although this quote from Grant Petersen may be more about getting too caught up in some of the minutiae of cycling, it might also apply to getting too fussy about what a particular bike can and cannot do:

    "Caring is good, but caring too much about the wrong thing can suck the joy=
    out of it, and the descent into the maelstrom begins. I have been a perpet=
    rator, and to a certain extent I still am one. It's hard to locate the line=
    between bicycle appreciation and snobbery."

    Grant Petersen, RR41
    Caveat: Mr. Petersen has also published his list of nine or ten bicycle types allowed per individual.

    We really only all need a bicycle. But we want bicycles.

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  55. M - While I haven't ridden my SH for 60 days straight, I've ridden it for 21 days straight, when we were staying on Cape Cod last Fall. Transportation, touring, groceries, work, everything. It was all right, but I found it limiting. Couldn't comfortably wear a skirt. The leaned over posture made it hard to ride in the town center and stop every 2 minutes for traffic. Wished I had one of my upright bikes with me there in addition to the Sam, and when we got back I was sure glad to see my city bikes. I think you point is valid, but exaggerated - just like my point.

    When you talk about overconsumption and Americanism, I think you're a little off. If anything, it's in the US that I see people insisting that a racing bike (or fixed gear track bike!) can also be used for transportation. In Europe, racers put those bikes away after the race and ride upright utility bikes to work.

    As for me personally, at this point I have obviously transitioned from a someone who merely cycles to someone who test rides, experiments with, and even designs bikes. I'm pretty much gonna have a bunch of bikes regardless of whether I actually "need them" for personal use.

    And even with all that, I fall short of GP's list of nine or ten. I currently have six.

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  56. You've commented in the past about preferring a U frame and having difficulty mounting a diamond; how are you getting on and off?

    The 7 is a good bike and I see someone's commented on the size. Presumably RSC will give you one that fits properly.

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  57. GR Jim - Only when wearing a skirt or dress; I don't have a physical problem with it. When I'm wearing pants or cycling clothes, I simply swing my leg over the back like everyone else.

    I also simply don't like diamond frame bikes and bikes with drop bars for transportation. I like being upright in traffic and being able to hop off to the side. Just a personal preference, but I know that many share it.

    Problem is that the RSC has a limited number of floor models. The bike I tried is big on me, but they set up the reach based on my Bianchi and the result fit me extremely well. I nearly published a test ride report on the day Blogger went down, but now I'll wait till I have one in my hands again and ride it more extensively. They will give me a smaller one if it is available, but I may end up riding the same oversized one, which would be fine with me. No toe overlap, for instance.

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  58. There's nothing wrong with a large bike if you're comfortable on it; as bikes get faster, a smaller, properly fitted frame will maximize its feeling of quickness, if not speed. This can be a handicap if you aren't immediately comfortable, tho.

    I was referring to: "I get very close to full leg extension with my current saddle position and cannot safely raise it any higher given how I mount and dismount the bike."

    Since you've been fitted a few times and your position from pix looks good I'm presuming your saddle isn't unnaturally low, but the above gave pause.

    If I may comment on M's and Peps' deleted comment, I think they're both right. M's is def an old school type of riding, one which I grew up with and some kids are emulating. They're enforcing a minimalism that insists on better skills. When you are intimately familiar with a bike and confident, you can ride a road bike with skinny tires anywhere or do freestyle tricks on a fixie. Having different bikes for different reasons for fun because you can afford it without lording it over on others is equally valid.

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  59. Oh I see. Well, I (still) can't mount the bike by stepping on a pedal and then hoisting myself up on the saddle. Instead, I stand over the bike, lean it over until the saddle can slide under my butt, put the right foot on the pedal, then heave myself and the bike up as I start. At intersections, I stop by leaning the bike to the left a tad and putting the tip of a toe on the ground while remaining on the saddle. So it needs to be low enough to make that possible and also high enough to get the best leg extension possible. Yes, I know it must boggle the mind that I can't mount or dismount the bike properly and yet feel that I can do paceline rides... but oddly this wasn't a problem.

    As for the different bikes issue, I don't really know what else to add. I would never have started cycling had I not discovered upright loop frame bikes. And I still prefer them for transportation no matter how good my roadcycling skills become. To each their own, and it's not really about affordability. In Boston you can pick up a $75 3-speed city bike and a $100 10-speed roadbike, adequately functional.

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  60. I just spent the day with 3000 "racing" bikes and their owners. Not one lilac!!!
    I wish you and your beautiful Rivendell had been there.

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  61. As for different bikes, learning curves are different, no big. I've seen so many people start from podunk twenty year old mtbs to very strong riders I don't judge, just explaining a thought process. My affordability comment refers to M's comment on consumption, as a cheap 10 sp or mtb is not really going to be pleasurable and quite likely turn a rider off to cycling. You know the bikes I have so I can't judge here either.

    As long as you're not feeling pain at that seat height there's no reason to change unless optimal position for power is the goal. When you're heaving up on the saddle you're basically putting weight on your R foot but don't realize it. Practicing starts by gradually putting more weight on it in a parking lot or something on the side of the pedal w/o the Powergrip will do a lot for confidence. The Gazelle would be good practice: someone can hold the rear rack and gradually let go as you repeat. You can scream if you want.

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  62. just to give a little more data on the randonneuring tangent and the subject of stereotypes.

    I think a lot of people tend to associate brevets with steel, retro-grouchy touring bikes because its an event where bikes such as these don't appear to be a handicap and also because a lot of blogs that celebrate that aesthetic also mention randonneuring; but the presence of such bikes is, by no means, de rigeur.

    In any brevet, you'll find that riders tend to naturally filter into packs based on speed. In the Boston series, there are essentially four packs: the 18mph, 16mph, 12mph and 10mph, and generally loose individuals that straggle between them. The 18mph riders are almost always on really light, fast race bikes usually with minimal luggage. Few have hub generators and usually rely on batteries to get them through. The other packs are more of a mixed sort. You'll see Rivendells and Bob Jacksons mixed in with Specialized Roubaixs and carbon/Ti Serottas, more have generators but some still go without. Some have Carradice saddlebags, some have Berthoud front bags. Few have both. Some of the go-fast bikes have been mutated with all manner of ersatz accomodations for the course. So, you'll see, say, a carbon S-Works with a bagman and Carradice Nelson and the fancy bladed stock front wheel swapped out for a SON28 generator wheel.

    The distribution of race vs touring bikes in the 16\12\10 packs seems to be relatively uniform. You'll find riders pedaling a USPS Trek 5200 in the back, then there's Melinda and her Riv Rambouillet, holding a 16mph moving average across the length of a 250 mile course.

    If anything, the factors that separate a 16 mph rider from a 10 aren't necessarily dictated by the bike. A lot of it is training, ride goals, age and strategy. Newer riders tend to be a little slower and then gradually speed up as they get comfortable with distances and build up their endurance base. People who learn to climb well finds it pays off in increased course speed. Some of us still can't resist the urge to stop at a new cafe that shows up on the route.

    So, yeah, randonneuring is a big tent, but inside that tent, you're probably going to find that the Specialized and Seven marques still outnumber the Waterfords and Surly LHTs; but in general, most folks don't necessarily care. The point is to finish. Whether it's in 70% of the time allowance or 99% is immaterial. So, people are less likely to pick on your bike for its perceived weight or shifter system, than for its fit or general reliability.

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  63. I used to follow Mary Mconneloug and Mike Broderick's race ventures and SEVEN bicycles was Mary's sponsored steed of choice. So these bikes are impressive and can be built to your specifications. Not to say that this will be your bike of choice, but I'm now really excited to follow your journey. I also biked once with a woman who owns a Cervelo (beyond what I could ever afford) and it's an amazing bike as well. Let's just say I could not keep up with her and leave it at that :). So with that said I hope you get to ride a Cervelo as well now that Ride Studio is one of your sponsors.

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  64. Pacelines existed before brifters. I myself have ridden on many training outings on a bike with bar-ends (my cross bike in the offseason), not mention downtube shifters.

    You may have been on the wrong ride with the wrong riders, but century riders do pacelines as well and it's not correct to say your bike is not adequate to do those kinds of rides. As for your fitness -- two rides from now you'd be able to do those without any additional 'training'. Your body would acclimate, your technique would improve the tiny bit it probably requires to stay out of the wind, you'd be fine.

    Just go for a ride where pacelines are the norm without the teaching component. You'd be fine in short order, on whatever bike you choose.

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  65. i personally like showing up in basketball shorts on my rando rig with fenders, racks and bags for club rides. nothing gives me greater satisfaction than having them pre-judge me and then smokin' them on the ride.

    the ride can help, but it's the engine that really matters.

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  66. Hello... I know this post is from last year, but I wanted to tell you that I really identified with it. I only recently discovered your blog (ha...this sounds like the usual line I see in spam messages sent to my own blog) but I really enjoy it. You hit the nail on the head, as it were...your "relax and enjoy nature" bike is just fine as it is, and it's a beautiful bicycle. I could almost smell the fresh air from my office when I read this. Thank you for reminding us that cycling is not always about speed, technology and performance.

    John Dunn
    Harrison, Arkansas

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