Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Countdown to Ironman, Week 11: Bike Shopping

I have now been a triathlete since 1986, and in that 26 (gulp!!) year span of time I have had just three bikes. I loved each of them in their own way.

My first, a steel Peugeot that was solid and steady, probably only had about 12 gears but it got the job done. I toured on that bike, raced on it, rode up my very first big hill, my first sprint and Oly distance races, and my first 50 mile day. When I finally upgraded to my first real "tri" bike, I kept it and loaned it to friends for their first triathlons, and to a teenager who did his first bike tour on it. It was a trusty steed that saw decades of service.

By 1990, I was a serious young triathlete. So when the Giant Cadex came out with that there new-fangled carbon frame stuff, and those gigantic Scott DH aerobars, well I just had to have me some of that brand new technology. Yes, I've been riding on aerobars for over 20 years now. No wonder my neck has a permanent crick in it! Wow, just look at the size of those enormous bars! And the round back in my rather upright aero position. Ah well, it took me to some of my first victories and gave me a decade of triathlon memories.

Then, in an extremely Blonde Moment, I inadvertantly drove into my garage with my bike still on the roof of the van. Whoops. That was the end of one carbon Giant frame. For a season, I was reduced to riding hubby's steel Bianchi touring bike with clip-one aero bars. Not the most comfortable or fastest ride, and it's my least-favorite shade of yellow. But it let me carry on. Luckily, my homeowner's insurance chipped in on a new ride, so I went bike shopping and ended up with my next beauty.

This was my current bike, my Quintana Roo Picanti, a titanium-framed tri bike that came out when they merged with Litespeed. When I started shopping, I thought I would be getting the Cervelo P2, which was the talk of the town at that point. But when I rode it, I hated it. And after test-riding seven or eight different bikes, I got on the QR and loved it. It's not the most aero frame, doesn't have a flashy paint job, and isn't the sexiest bike in town. But it fit my odd frame (long legs, short torso) just right, was comfortable, and made short work of the 112 miles of my first Ironman.

Being a mom of two kids who are happily into all sorts of money-sucking endeavors (a million dance classes, camps, sports, and activities), I don't get the chance to upgrade my hardware all that often. And I haven't wanted to spend the money until I saw that bikes had made another large qualitative leap forward in technology. But I think that day has finally arrived. The new generations of frames are considerably different than what I'm riding, and it was time to start thinking about what I wanted to ride next. I resolved to start selling off some of my old toys that I no longer use (two motorcycles gathering dust in the garage, three parachute rigs in the closet) and use the money for a two-wheeled speed demon.

So I did my research, and headed to my local bike store to ride what's available around here, then took a road trip to Portland to hit up the triathlon stores and get a wider variety of brands to ride. All in all, I looked at seven different bikes by Specialized, Felt, BMC, Argon, Quintana Roo, Scott, and Cervelo, all in the Ultegra price range ($3000 - $3500).  What did I think of each of these bikes? What two made the final cut? And which one will I be riding next week? Stay tuned!


Marv said...

I love the history of your bikes and their upgrades. Mine has been a journey of sorts too, starting with an under-sized mountain bike, then an odd-sized cross bike, to road bikes----They were all good in their time in my journey.

Patricia said...

I ran into an overhang with my Felt at 4 in the morning on my way to the buffalo springs triathlon. I noticed that it was laying on the ground and that I had a strange looking damage to my Suburu's roof.

good news, the damage to the bike was covered by my homeowner's insurance and I got an upgrade to make the trip to Lubbock really expensive!
got a hitch carrier after that.