Saturday, November 26, 2011

'Lovely' Touring Bike, Given Away!

Touring Bike with Its New Owner
In case you did not catch the update on the original post and the subsequent twitter announcement, I selected the recipient for the Lovely Touring Bike give-away a couple of weeks ago. This give away has proven to be an especially difficult one, and I wanted to make sure the bike and the new owner were a good match before making the announcement here. Happily, it seems that they are. 

Lady Bike Project, 'Before'
It was a year ago now that I spontaneously bought a beat up Shogun touring bike, because the geometry looked promising and I liked the colour. As I didn't need another vintage roadbike, I decided to turn it into a Lovely Bicycle project. It occurred to me that if refurbished with new components, it could make the perfect "starter" bike for a woman who does not otherwise feel confident on a roadbike. What makes the bike good for this purpose, is that it has fairly relaxed angles, stable handling, a comfortable feel over bumps, and no toe overlap. The combination of these characteristics is not easy to find, particularly with smaller sized frames. Upon a reader's suggestion I decided to try and solicit sponsors for refurbishing the bike and then give it away. There were glitches along the way with component choices and sponsorship commitments, and the project took longer than anticipated. But once finished, the bicycle came out wonderfully:

Refurbished Shogun 400
In the end, there were two main industry sponsors for this project: Velo Orange donated a headset, crankset, fenders, leather handlebar tape, and touring saddle - components that were specifically requested by me. Harris Cyclery assembled the bicycle and contributed spare parts. A number of readers (JustineG.E., Neighbourtease, Spindizzy, Cedar, Somervillain) made crucial contributions to the build, including components, accessories and monetary donations, and I too made personal contributions. The total worth of the bicycle as shown is around $1,000 and most of the components are described in detail here and here. Granted, it is a large sum to spend on a vintage frame. But no equivalent bicycle exists today at that price point. 

Refurbished Shogun 400
Because of the unique nature of this project, it was extremely important to me to give this bike to a person who I felt really understood what they'd be getting, and best stood to benefit from this bike's combination of characteristics. A lot of thought went into the component choices, with the goal of maximising comfort and minimising the aspects that normally make people uncomfortable and nervous when riding roadbikes. This was not meant for a roadcyclist who was simply unhappy with their current bike, but specifically for someone who had trouble handling roadbikes in the first place. No effort was made to make this bike "fast" by roadcycling standards, which pretty much made it unsuitable for anyone interested in that aspect of cycling. The way I saw it, the "lovely touring bike" would give the new owner an opportunity to travel long distances at their own pace, on a bicycle that was lighter, faster and better at handling hills than an upright city bike, with multiple hand positions afforded by the dropbars but without the intimidating "racy" qualities of typical roadbikes. 

Touring Bike with Its New Owner
The give-away entry requirement was to submit a ride report, which would be included in a Lovely Bicycle compilation some time in the future. My criteria for selecting the recipient were that (1) they were the right height for the bicycle's 52cm frame size, (2) they submitted their own entry, and (3) what they wanted in a roadbike was compatible with what this bicycle could give them. I was somewhat overwhelmed to receive over 70 entries from around the country: I'd thought that the limitations of the sizing alone would yield a fairly small circle of applicants. But as I read through the entries, I was even more surprised how few of them seemed relevant to this particular bicycle. This is an issue I experienced with previous give-aways as well, but this time it was more acute than ever. The majority of the entries gave no explanation for why they wanted this particular bike, other than that it would be nice to win one. Others entered on behalf of their wives or girlfriends. Others still interpreted this bicycle as a more comfortable alternative to their modern racing bike. In the end, I received a grand total of four entries that I felt were truly relevant, and interestingly, two of them were local. 

When I picked a name from the 4 finalists at random, I selected someone who was not only local, but had her own bicycle blog and was not a stranger to me... which made me worried that selecting her would be biased. So I nixed my selection, went back to the entries and re-read them, considering each entrant's circumstances more carefully... and kept coming back to the local blogger as the obvious choice. She had a fear of bicycles with drop bars after an accident some time ago, but really wanted to give them another try. She had been looking for a bicycle exactly like the one I was giving away, but not having much luck. She had an appreciation for vintage steel frames and knew what to expect from them. She was interested in comfort over speed. She was the ideal height for the bike. Finally, being local she could try the bike first and determine whether she would be able to ride it. And that is exactly what we did.  

Touring Bike with Its New Owner
In short, please meet "cycler," the bicycle's new owner and the author of Biking in Heels. You may recognise her as the owner of "Gilbert" - a customised Raleigh Lady's Sports, which is her daily transportation bicycle. After much, much deliberation, I concluded that since nothing in this give-away indicated that local readers and other bloggers were ineligible to participate, it would be biased not to give the bicycle to cycler at this point, given how right they were for each other. After she tried the bike, this was confirmed; they are a perfect match and I wish them many happy rides together. 

The "Lovely Touring Bike Give-Away" was an experiment that I enjoyed, but also found more difficult than any other give-away I have done so far. For a number of logistical reasons, repeating it is probably not feasible - though I suppose never say never. 

There is also the huge collection of ride reports I've received from readers! Some submitted ride reports despite not entering the give-away, and I have over 100 total. I am thinking of making a compilation over the winter, and making it available in some sort of (free) e-zine format. One option I am considering is choosing a handful of my favourite ride reports and publishing them in full. Another option would be to play more of an editiorial role and publish excerpts from many reports according to themes. My thinking is not entirely clear on this yet, but it could be interesting. Or it could take forever. Suggestions?

With sincere thanks once again to all of my readers, to all of the "Lovely Touring Bike Give-Away" entrants, to the donors, and to the project sponsors Velo Orange and Harris Cyclery, wishing you all a wonderful weekend and happy cycling.

34 comments:

  1. Congratulations!! Hope you have many thousands of lovely miles with your new beauty!!!

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  2. A well done "refurb" can be just a much drool material as a new bike. Good luck with your project........

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  3. Looks like a great match. I'm glad the give-away bike found its owner and I wish them many lovely rides.

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  4. How lovely that the recipient will truly appreciate the bike! Cheers to everyone--you, Biking in Heels, and the donors!

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  5. I can't help but be extremely jealous of Cycler and a little sad I didn't win, but I can't deny that she looks great next to the bike. Congratulations and happy riding! :)

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  6. Congrats to cycler!
    Bike + sweater = lovely

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  7. I would love to see some of your favorite ride reports published in full. and Congrats to cyclist!

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  8. The rear flat was fixed, right?

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  9. The tires and wheelset were replaced, along with all other components.

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  10. How did I fail to see both announcements?! I must really be missing a lot of reading material (not surprisingly for me these days). Cycler looks wonderful on the bike, and I'm sure she'll enjoy it thoroughly. She's definitely a beauty (both bike and rider) and I'm glad that it was such a good fit for someone who will use and appreciate it. Happy riding!

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  11. This is such a great effort on your part, Velouria. Congrats to you both.

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  12. cris - Indeed : ) Well now cycler can photograph it openly!

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  13. I'll just say that I'm loving the bike, and am so happy to be chosen, and grateful to all the sponsors of the build up. I was very excited to go riding today, but came home from Thanksgiving travels to find the front tire flat. Bought a tube and a fresh patch kit, and hopefully will enjoy the mild weather tomorrow with another ride.
    I've been wanting to post about my initial rides, but was holding off until it was "official". Cris did spy the thinnest edge of the bike in a photo I posted a week or so ago, I knew it was visible before I posted it, but it was late, I'd almost been hit by a truck, and I decided it was too small a glimpse for anyone to notice, little did I expect Cris' eagle eye.
    Again, thanks, and I'll be sure to post about all my future touring adventures!

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  14. Congratulations to cycler -- what a great bike, and I hope she enjoys it!

    That said, while Velouria is very generous and can obviously dispose of her own belongings however she desires, I'm a little confused by the selection criteria detailed in this post: perhaps the reason why so very few people described why the bike would be good for them is because the submission guidelines did not ask for that information. Here are the original guidelines, which ask only for a description of a ride:

    Submission Rules
    In a narrative style of your choosing, describe a bicycle ride that is memorable or significant to you. It can be any sort of ride - transportation, recreation, sport, whatever. Please limit the length of the writing to what would constitute a typical blog entry. Accompanying images are a plus, but not required. Submit your Ride Report either by putting it online and posting a link to it here (preferred!), or by emailing a document to "filigreevelo at yahoo" with the subject header "Ride Report." You are welcome to submit even if you are not entering to win this bicycle. I will compile a sampling of entries and post it for everyone to enjoy. Submission Deadline is 18 September, 2011.


    I think the all-but-four entrants can be excused for not writing something they were not asked to write, yes?

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  15. Cangradulations to the new owner,and kudos to you! :) :) :)

    Hope you had an awesome day of Thanks,my friend :)

    Disabled Cyclist

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  16. BG - Good point. This sort of thing is challenging to deal with. In the last couple of contests some readers felt the rules were too rigid, so I tried to avoid that here. Submitting a ride report was a requirement for entering, but aside from that it was up to the entrant what additional info they wanted to provide. I did think it was self-evident that when entering a give-away a serious entry would consider the kind of bike is being given away and include a relevant comment regarding why they want it. What particularly did not make sense to me was that some would write, say, describing how they loved going on paceline rides. Or mention their height, which would clearly be wrong for the bike. That sort of thing. I must just not be very good at this, because even with the "rigid" rules of previous contests I received what I felt were mostly entries from persons who clearly did not read those rules, or even the info about the bike. It's not about excusing anyone as you put it, but about ultimately wanting to give the bike to someone who'll ride it, as oppose to sell it on C-List a month later. I hope that's understandable, and maybe I'll get better at these contests over time.

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  17. Yes, indeed. Thanks for doing all you do, Velouria!

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  18. So cool! I think you found just the right person for it and I hope it makes her smile every time she rides it.

    I hope I have something to contribute to the next one.

    Spindizzy

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  19. I just read BG's comments and your response and just want to say that giving stuff away gets complicated.

    On one hand you HAVE to have some criteria here or it loses any context and amounts to just putting it out on the curb. But if one doesn't manage to make everything clear and things get messy then people get frustrated or have their feelings hurt( sometimes it's the GIVER). Not what you or anyone was trying to accomplish.

    I recently re-furbed 4 bikes for a big "Garage Sale Giveaway" event in our neighborhood. Everyone donates what they can, hopefully not just things that we want to disappear but the sorts of things that might make a difference to people. So they open the doors and this guy comes in and takes all 4 in, like, 9 seconds. My wife starts to get all panicky and thinks somebodies about to take advantage of the situation and wants to go confront the guy but thinks to herself, HMmmm. We advertise this as a giveaway, every things free and "We Hope Ya'll Come!" She takes a deep breath and goes back to shoving cookies at people. The guy say's they're for his sisters kids. I hope so but if they end up for sale at some junk shop then looking at how we did things, we'd better be cool with that. I'm glad I wasn't there. I'm not sure I could be quite as self aware and grown-up on short notice as my lovely wife( she's a pro, 18 year elementary school veteran).

    If it's about a contest, try to make it clear I guess, if it's about helping the needy, than "needs test" somehow(bleh), if it's about making it disappear than park it on the street. Everyone of those options would be tough for me if I had some specific outcome I wanted to achieve. If it's about being generous than I need to remember that being generous is different from making me look good.

    Maybe you might do it differently the next time but I think you did a stand-up thing in an honorable way. High five.

    Spindizzy

    Anyone care to speculate on how long till the next stray cycle appears in V's life? My experience suggests about 2 weeks.

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  20. Touring bikes like the one shown are ideal commuter bikes. They are fast, and rugged compared to a thin tyred road bike.

    Here in England they have another advantage. They are so unfashionable that they are much less likely to be stolen.

    I've got a couple of high quality road bikes but wouldn't dream of using them for everyday cycling. That's what my tourers are for, with their slightly wider tyres, mudguards (fenders), and more mid-market components are for.

    My road bikes are for dry days of leisure riding and long distances with no luggage at all.

    Tourers are cyclings best kept secret. The cogniscenti know that a good quality tourer can go nearly as fast as a road bike, carry lots of luggage when required, and is a capable off-road bike too.

    If I had to own just one bike it'd probably be my Dawes Ultra Galaxy.

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  21. I've got to say I'm bummed, as I was one of those entrants who submitted a road report (not about a road bike, as this was hopefully to maybe be my first!) and few extra details. I considered including why I "deserved" the bike in my email, but decided that would be extraneous and would only look like I was begging. I also never mentioned my height-- I'm 5'7''-- because you stated that only people who could ride a 52cm should apply and that therefore my entry was in itself a statement that I could. I'm sad now to realize that I was probably immediately disqualified on these bases.
    Next time, if there is ever a next time, I would urge you to consider being specific about what you want. Then you should feel entirely free to disregard entries that don't meet the criteria. It's difficult for us to know what you're looking for unless you tell us. :)
    In any case, I am sure that Cycler will be an excellent owner for this lovely bike and hope that I'll maybe see her around town. (I'm local as well.)

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  22. congrats to the winner! i'm a fan of her blog as well and whether she "deserves" it or not (sounded like a chance drawing from the final 4, no?), she'll get a lot of good use of it. i would be hesitant about giving it away to someone who's not already a cyclist who might abandon it if cycling isn't for them (so that rule you made was rational). i was not an entrant (automatically ruled out because of the size). i'm still dreaming about a touring bike small enough for me.

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  23. Ridonkulus & Julia - I did not mean that I did not consider those who did not specifically write why they wanted the bike. What I meant was that (1) I received many entries that did state why, and their statement showed that the bike would in fact be inappropriate for them (i.e. they mistakenly believed that this bike could be used in a road/racing setting), and (2) I received entries that explicitly state the person's height as being clearly wrong for the bike. Those were the only ones I "disqualified" outright. Of the rest, there were 4 entries that made it very clear the bike would be right for them, so those are the ones I considered finalists. Cycler was initially chosen at random out of those 4. Then I went back and reviewed them, as well as many of the other entries, and still returned to cycler. It took me over a month to read all the entries; I did not take them lightly and did not disqualify anyone unless it was clear the bike was inappropriate for them.

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  24. No matter how rigid or relaxed you make the rules, some will always find them unfair. You shouldn't worry about it too much, because the alternative is not to run these contests. You've given away 3 bikes that I can count in less than a year. Keep it up!

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  25. "care to speculate on how long till the next stray cycle appears in V's life"

    Ha : ) Unfortunately there are logistical reasons why I cannot do a give-away like this again. But I will be happy to give away whatever bike a manufacturer chooses to donate in future after a long term review. Ditto with product reviews, as usual.

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  26. Thanks for your response. And to clarify, I didn't find the rules or your selection criteria unfair, just unclear (heh... maybe I should work on that too!).
    Again, I'm sure the bike has found a great home with Cycler and am happy to know its gone to someone who will make good use of it.

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  27. I understand where Julia is coming from. I didn't expect to win, but what bothers me a bit about this announcement is that the ride report itself seems to be beside the point. Since the ride report was the entry, I guess I (erroneously?) thought that the contest would be at least partially judged on the ride report itself. In other words, Velouria would pick her favorite ride report that ALSO was written by someone for whom the bike would be a good fit. So I spent a lot of time on my ride report and very little time describing why the bike would be good for me. I'm feeling a little dismayed that this announcement of the winner doesn't include a link to her ride report (though I can probably dig it up), but that certainly makes the ride report seem irrelevant.

    All that said, this was a very generous contest, and it's true that giving away stuff, especially special stuff that you want to be loved, is hard, and your efforts to get people onto road bikes are great!

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  28. i didn't mean to sound like i entered and was disqualified. i didn't enter at all, because i knew i wasn't tall enough to ride the bike. and i'm still a woman who fears roadbikes. it was interesting to follow how a bike gets built up.

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  29. I hear you guys (Marianne, Julia). If there is a future give-away, I will think about the rules very carefully. The ride reports will be featured very prominently in the near future, possibly with runner up prizes.

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  30. So cool that Cycler won! I love her blog and I really love her amazing mechanical skills! I wanted to win this bike myself, but just because I do not have anything like it and could really use it. I didn't qualify because I love my road bike, though it won't take fenders or much of anything else besides a light, so this bike looked really good to me. I think this was a fabulous project and the bike turned out great.

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  31. One of my favorite bloggers giving a bike to another of my favorite bloggers. It doesn't get much better than that!

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  32. I think you made the right decision. As someone who had an accident their first time riding a road bike, I know how valuable this chance to start anew with the guidance of experienced cyclers. Now I regret not entering!
    Congratulations on capping of such a wonderful project.

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