Saturday, August 05, 2006

My Rides

My first commuter was the Bianchi. As a surprise early birthday present, my wife bought it for me when we lived in Milwaukee. Christine had heard me refer to my current bike, a Bianchi Advantage from the late eighties, as a piece of junk. The only reason I referred to it in such a way was because it had done hard service while I was a young Marine officer. I used it to pleasure bike in San Diego and rode it hard to work and on trails while stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Okinawa, Japan. It had been boxed and shipped many times and by 1998 was a shell of its former self.

After Christine described to a local bike salesman the type of rider I was and what I might like, he suggested the Bianchi. When I came home from work that day I saw a strange bike in the living room. I first thought her brother was visiting and for some odd reason brought a bike with him. On closer inspection I saw it was brand new bike and the exact model as my old one. I just figured Christine went down to our storage locker, checked out what I'd been riding all these years, and upgraded to a newer model. When I thanked her and told her how impressed I was that she found the same bike, she said she didn't know it was the same one after all. And if she had known, she would have looked for another model since I seemed to have such a low opinion of the old one.

I have been pretty happy with the Bianchi. It isn't the lightest bike and its components are pretty basic. But I upgraded to SRAM shifters, an XT rear derailleur, Veratomic Locking Quick Release Skewers and a Selle Italia Flite saddle harvested from a Cannondale Scalpel. But it really couldn't take the rigors of an urban commute and hauling a 20 plus pound pannier. I was frequently busting spokes and getting flat tires. So I needed a bike better suited to heavier loads and the punishment of city streets.

I decided to get a touring bike. At the time I owned a 2003 Cannondale Scalpel 3000 used for adventure racing. Work, finances and parenting responsibilities recently ended my racing "career" and any good reason for owning such a high end cross country bike. I'd bought it used on MTB Review classifieds and was able to unload it for almost as much as I paid for it after a year and a half of service. With my new found wealth I was able to justify buying a 2002 Cannondale T2000 touring bike on eBay for less than half the retail price. Touring bikes generally have frames and wheels designed to handle the added loads of panniers. I realize I could have retrofitted a road bike or a hybrid for heavier duty but I have a pipe dream that I might go on a bike tour some day. Plus I really liked the paint job on the Cannondale. One of my many less than completely rational purchases.

No comments: