Saturday, November 19, 2011

Getting a Real Sport

So here it is November, and I look to see that I have posted only three times this year! It is not that it has been a slow year in the bike dork's cycling world. It may have more to do with the procrastinating perfectionist in me. If I am going to post, it must be epic, or at least worth reading. This means pictures and links like those other "big name" bike bloggers use. For me the king of snarky and often insightful bike blogging is Bike Snob NYC. He writes a long and funny post five days a week with videos and links and quizzes and pictures sent in by readers.

Bike Snob uses the clever device of recurring themes and characters on his blog. One of the characters he features is "The Lone Wolf". While The snob lives in Brooklyn, The Lone Wolf seems to live or at least spend a good amount of time here in Los Angeles.

A few months back I was at the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, where I met The Lone Wolf in person. We spoke, I took a few pictures, and relayed my encounter to Bike Snob NYC in an e-mail. The next day I got a reply and a request to use my e-mail and pictures on his site. I was honored that he posted the whole thing.

So that was cool. Almost as cool as getting a new bike… That is right, the Bike Dork went big and bought a brand new bicycle.

Over the last couple of years my cycling experience has been confined to commuting 30 miles a day on an old steel single speed. I have built it up and modified over time starting with with a crappy old ten speed, stripping it down to a fixie, then adding stuff trying various parts, straps, racks, baskets fenders, what ever to make the commute a better experience. This bike has become a reflection of my true dorkyness.

While this bike works well on the flat route from Redondo Beach to Santa Monica, it is not much fun to take on more varied terrain. I enjoy the challenge of using a single speed bike on hills, but that gets old fast. I had the urge to branch out, go farther, faster, exploring new routes learning to ride with others.

Also I have been following professional road racing, watching the spring classics, the Giro, the TDF, the Vuelta, all the lesser tours that I could find, and all my heros have nice new road bikes. My plan was to get an old mid 80's vintage road bike. One that was a great bike when it was new, if well cared for would still be a fine bike for group rides and anything I would be up for. Then I got an unexpected bonus from work.

After some research and trying a few bikes, I ordered a Giant TCR Composite from the guys over at Beach City Cycles. Brian and Chris totally hooked me up and I would recommend them to anyone. While I will say that this is a great bike and I totally enjoy riding it, I will save a detailed review for a later post.

What I do want to mention is how this bike has transformed what kind of rider I am. As I have often written I am not an athlete. While I enjoy watching sports and following them as a fan, I have never wanted to be that guy. So it came as a bit of a shock to find out that I am jock. It happened on the way home from work shortly after getting the new bike. I was spinning down 11th Street as a guy hanging out the window of a crappy little Hyundai blurted some expletives at me. I caught up to them at the next stop sign and asked for clarification. The young man smoking a cigarette said "Get a real sport!" I was so taken aback, all I could muster was, "Sport? I'm just going home from work.". They pulled away and I was left puzzled. "Sport… hmm. That's it, I am now a practitioner of a sport. At a glance I could be one of those guys out there cycling just as some sort of athletic thing to do or maybe I am training for a race or some big century ride! Who would have thought. When I started commuting to work by bike, I made every effort to not look like some roadie dork. "Lycra shorts and alien brain helmets, that is so not me…" Now look at me,
Here I am after finishing my first century ride: The San Luis Obispo Gran Fondo.
What a dork!