Friday, September 7, 2012

The Bike

After riding the mountain bike for a couple months, two became things became clear.   One was that I needed a better bike than what I had.  A better bike would be ……… better.  I was riding a lot and I was riding hard.   I was riding longer distances at ever-increasing speeds.   The bike I had, simply, wasn’t going to cut it for very much longer. The second thing was that it seemed I had almost no interest in riding in the dirt.  Even when opportunities to play in the dirt would present themselves I stayed to pavement.   A mountain bike wasn’t of much use.   It was clear that a new bike was needed and it wasn’t going to be a mountain bike.

It turned out to be a road bike.  This road bike.

I enlisted the help of a new friend, Glen.  Glen was an experienced bike racer and had forgotten more about bikes than I knew.  Glen was generous with his time and knowledge, answering every question, offering advice on what to look for and what to avoid.  I learned a lot from Glen - derailleurs, brakes, wheels, saddles, tires and frames.  I absorbed as much as I could.  I wanted to be as informed as possible when the time came to buy my next bike.  I wanted it to be the best bike I could afford.

One day Glen emailed me a sale flier that listed a 2011 GT GTR Series 2 road bike.  It had the kind of components I was looking for and the price was right.  I drove down to the shop after work, looked the bike over and took it for a test ride.  Although it had been 40 years since the last time I got on a road bike, I found the GT comfortable, steady and predictable.  I liked it immediately.  After talking it over with the wife, we decided to buy it.  It was Christmas time, and money was a little tight, so we put it on lay-away with the idea of redeeming the bike in mid-February.   Three months.

That was a long three months.  Although the weather around the Holidays wasn't always suited  to riding, every time a nice day came along, I found myself wanting to get on GT and ride it somewhere rather than the POS I had.    I was like a kid waiting for a present he knew he was getting.  It was kinda fun to feel that way, but it was also kind of frustrating.  I still had the old, POS mountain bike to ride and it was, of course, better than nothing, but  it wasn't the bike that was waiting for me.  It wasn't the kind of bike I wanted to be riding.

February finally came.  We finished paying off the layaway, and brought the bike home.  I asked the mechanic to remove the spoke protector from the rear wheel.  This item is also called a "Pie Pan" or "Dork Disc".  It was ugly.  I didn't want it on my bike.  When I got home, I put Mr. Tuffy tape in the tires for better flat protection. I shit-canned the reflectors.  I took the pedals and cyclocomputer off the MTB and mounted them on the GT.

The bike was home and ready to ride.

I took the next day off work and took the GT for a long ride. Twenty five miles.  I was in love.  It was everything the mountain bike was not - light, responsive, fast and easy on the eye.  It was cloudy and cool out, but I didn't really notice.  I saw a few similarly dedicated cyclists on the road.  I nodded, smiled and waved.  I was now a Roadie.  I was one them.  We recognize our own, don't we?  They did not respond in kind.  Then a young lady on a Trek passed me.  Didn't say a word.  I wanted to say something to her about what I nice day for a ride it was, but before I could get a word out, she was gone out of earshot.  But what the hell.  It was nothing personal and this wasn't a race.  There was a long downhill at about the half-way point.  I decided to get down in the "drops" and take this descent like a pro.  Sort of.  Nearing the bottom I shot a glance at the computer: 35 MPH!!!!!!! 

Sonofabitch, that's FUCKING FAST!!!!!!

The rest of the ride was along the South Platte River. I blew through several clouds of Road Krill en route, but being peppered with gnats didn't bother me.  I was now a Roadie and was above such mundane annoyances.  I made it home, tired, but happy and supremely satisfied.  I wheeled the bike into the garage set it up in the stand, got a cup of coffee and sat with my new bike for a while.  Then I grabbed a rag and wiped her down.

I'd done alright.

2011 GT GTR Series 2

Wheels: Mavic Aksium Race
Tires: Kenda Kadence 700 X 23c
Handlebars:  Ritchey
Brakes: Tektonic R540
Front Derailleur: SRAM Apex
Rear Derailleur: SRAM Apex
Brake/Shift Levers: SRAM Apex Double-Tap
Headset:  FSA Orbit 1 Inegrated
Bottom Bracket: FSA Mega Exo
Crank:  SRAM Apex 50/34

Things I Added

Tail light
2 bottle cages
Mr. Tuffy tire liners
Pedals from the MTB
Cateye cyclocomputer from the MTB.


Rear wheel spoke protector ("Pie Pan" or "Dork Disc")

Things I Changed Later

Just before the Denver Century, I changed the Kenda 23s to a set of Vittoria Rubino Pro Slick 25s.  My hope was to get a more compliant ride, which I got, but the increased tire diameter changed rollout and in effect raised my overall gear ratios.  I recently switched back to the Kendas.

The bike came with a Shimano 12-25 cassette.  After riding with this for several months I decided I needed lower gearing for climbs and opted for the SRAM 1050 12-28 cassette instead.  Good choice.

The bike came with a Shimano chain.  When I replaced the cassette, I got a new SRAM PC 1031 PowerChain.

I was cursed by two reputable mechanics for the stock seatpost – a Ritchey OEM post.  Ashamed, I replaced the Ritchey with a Deda Elementi  Pro RS01.  Much nicer.

Not really a change as the bike came without pedals. At first I used the pedals off the old MTB.  When I decided to step up to clipless pedals I chose the Crank Brothers Eggbeater 1. A friend had a factory rebuilt set with new cleats.  I like walking normally and have vivid memories of the Earth Shoe.

Eggbeaters are easy to clip in/out of and hold the foot securely.  They're a LOT more comfortable than they look.  The colors even match the bike.

The bike came with the Fi'zi:k Pave CS saddle.  That saddle was fine for about two hours of riding and then became really uncomfortable.  After trying a few others, I settled on the Selle An Atomica Titanico X to replace the Fi'zi:k.  The TX is a leather hammock-style saddle, but required no break in - immediately comfortable.  I also needed more setback on the saddle than other saddles offered and the Titanico has really long mounting rails that worked perfectly for that problem.

Note:  Choice of saddles is probably the most personal thing on road bike.  Some saddles work for some peope and not for others.  My decision to replace the Fi'zi:k is not a reflection on the quality of that saddle.  It wasn't working and for the sake of my butt a change was necessary.