Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Bike

I rode my new bike home from Turin Bicycle on Friday evening. After hours of Internet research and many discussions with bike shop staff I purchased a Surly Long Haul Trucker – a touring bike built to carry heavy weight on long-distance rides. Riding the Surly was a whole new experience. Since my teens, I have always ridden mountain bikes, despite the fact that I rarely made it to off-road trails. I have especially fond memories of a basic Trek 820 that I took on my junior year study abroad and rode around France and Spain. I owned that bike for many years until industrious Chicago thieves cut down the street sign that I locked it to and rode off with it. (Many years later half of that sign post still stands bolted to the concrete sidewalk.) On the few century rides that I have done over the years I was one of the only riders cycling the hundred miles on a fat-tired mountain bike. The other riders would give me a look that said “I can’t believe you’re riding hundred miles on that” as they breezed by me on their road bikes. But I was comfortable with the feel and fit of my mountain bike.

So it was with a little apprehension that I started riding home on my new touring bike. Jake, who sold me my bike, made all the proper adjustments and taught me how to use clipless pedals (another new experience) before I started my ride home. For those who don’t bike, with clipless pedals a cyclist attaches to the bike by clipping cleats on the bottom of his shoes into the pedals. The rider then detaches from the bike by turning their heel inward or outward. This too takes some getting used to.

I’m told that even riders who have used clipless pedals for years have the occasional embarrassing fall at a red light when they fail to unclip a foot before their bike comes to a stop. I was at my second stop sign about a minute and a half into my ride when I had my first clipless-pedal induced moment of panic. I had disengaged my right foot with the intention of leaning to the right and supporting myself with that leg. Unfortunately, as I slowed my bike started leaning to the left. It felt like slow motion, as I thought about how it was going to feel to hit the pavement along with my new bike. Miraculously, I managed to rip my left foot from the pedal just in time to save myself from falling over. I vigilantly unclipped my left foot the rest of the ride home.

This bike will be my inseparable companion for the next three months. And I’m expecting a lot from it – a comfortable and reliable ride across the country. After one five mile ride (admittedly, not much to go on), I’m optimistic that I made a good choice. Though I’m sure I’ll be tweaking the bike over the next few weeks before I leave, I’m excited to start my trip on this Surly.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

I am glad you were able to save yourself from the embarrassment of falling while clamped in to your new pedals. Unfortunately, it was just yesterday that I had my moment, as I came to stop at a red light here in Tucson (at rush hour). It wasn't pretty :(