Saturday, February 28, 2009

Still Shopping

The agony of bike shopping.

Bike shopping sucks. There are countless options, not to mention everything costs a fortune. There's the dilemma of whether or not to buy online and save money, or support the local shop and spend more. Also, being so new to this sport obviously doesn't help either. I'm starting to understand why things cost what they do, and already I can see how cyclists justify their much loved purchases. I'm starting to realize that no matter how good of a bike I get, it won't be good enough. If you buy the $1000 bike, you'll soon crave the $2000 bike, just like if you buy the $500 bike (if such a thing existed) you'll very quickly wish you were sporting the $1000 ride. There are countless brands and countless pros and cons. Doing all of my research has turned into a full time job. Luckily I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I'm narrowing my search.

At this point, I'm debating between an online steal, and a local bike shop entry level bike. If you follow the links you'll see my dilemma. The online bike is more of an off brand frame but with a higher level of name brand Shimano components, while the bike shop bike is a Felt, (quality name brand) frame with a lower level of name brand Shimano components. The online bike is $130 cheaper plus no sales tax and that includes shipping, but it comes in a box and needs some final assembly done. The shop bike is more expensive and has a lesser component group but comes from a local shop fully assembled and tuned and I'm sure they'll stand behind it with great service if necessary. Like I said, agony. If you care to weigh in let me know, otherwise hopefully I can make a decision on my own and pull the trigger on this deal soon. It's supposed to be near sixty degrees this weekend so the new snow won't last long and I need to be out on the road.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My First Ride

Like Riding a Bike right?

So today was the day. I got home from work a bit early and the days are getting a bit longer, and it was sunny out and it was almost 30 degrees. I'm thinking the stars are aligning for me to get out on my first ride of the season, not to mention my first time on a road bike.

I know that time isn't on my side at this point as it was almost five o'clock and the sun wouldn't last past five-thirty, so I rush in the house and start figuring out what I'm going to wear for this milestone ride. Turns out, being the non-cyclist that I am, besides not owning a bike, I don't own any proper bike riding garb either. Looking in my closet the best thing I can find to work in a pinch is a pair of Nike wind pants and an Under Armour jacket. I do have a helmet so I'm covered there, but as I'm getting ready to pull out of the garage I realize without some sort of gloves I won't make it far. Searching around, a pair of my leather garden gloves seem to have a light shining down on them and without hesitating I pull them on my already numb hands and I grab the bike.

If you've taken to reading this blog you may have come to the conclusion that my common sense is somewhat lacking, but if you know me, you hopefully think that there is some intelligence in me somewhere, so before pulling out of the garage I give the bike a once over. I'm not sure exactly what I'm looking for, but flat tires and any wires not connected would have been a red flag I think. Not finding anything catastrophically wrong with the bike, I hop on and pedal out of the garage.

First Impressions

It's not like riding a bike at all. I'm used to a stable, solid feeling mountain bike with fat tires. What I was riding was a bit different. Just keeping this thing going in a strait line was a challenge. The way you hold the handlebars on a road bike made it very foreign feeling and every time I took a hand off the bars to shift or wipe my nose, I felt like the town drunk trying to pass a sobriety test. Also, I'm starting to realize why bikes have evolved. Having the gear shifters on the down tube is a royal pain in the ass, not to mention that these old gear shifters don't click into place or anything when you have successfully changed a gear. You just have to finesse it until it's done. So far this first ride is doing two things. Number one, making me aware of just how far I have to go to get ready for this 100 mile race. Number two giving me a healthy respect for the history and roots of the sport. If I had just jumped on a brand new, perfect, $1000 bike I may not have gotten this schooling.

So that's the equipment, now on to the operator. If you could have been in a car driving by me today, you would have gotten a real treat. I'm sure watching me roll by was quite a sight. I already mentioned how I didn't look the part at all, now on top of that, about a mile into this "ride" the cold, my weak legs, and my pathetic lungs were conspiring against me.

Determined to at least ride the 5K loop I normally jog, I stuck it out a bit longer. I found out why gardening gloves aren't the glove of choice for most real cyclists... they don't do anything. They didn't help me grip the handlebar and they certainly didn't help against the cold. Also, I now know why people don't wear wind pants while riding a bike. They get caught in the chain. So after stopping to tuck my pant leg into my sock I'm even more dubious looking. At least by this now, I'm past the halfway point, and the end is near.

The one positive that came out of this first ride was that while I did feel like a fish out of water on the road bike, there were glimmers of hope. It was cool to feel how a road bike could take the energy from my legs and efficiently transfer it into motion. I feel like there is a lot less wasted output compared to a mountain bike. Also, while right now I have no real business near a real race or even other cyclists, my appetite is wet and I look forward to the day when I might be able to hang with someone that knows what they are doing on a road bike.

I made it back to the garage having only logged about 3 miles. Most real cyclists don't even realize they're out for a ride until about 5 or 10 miles in but oh well. I survived the first ride so that's a win in my book.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Loaner

Still don't own a bike but I got a sweet loaner.

So I'm still shopping for the right bike to carry me along this epic journey, but in the meantime I'd like to get in a ride or two. Enter my Father-in-Law Larry. Larry owns a "vintage", i.e. 20 something year old, Lotus Eclair. In it's day in was a pretty nice ride, and as far as loaners go, it fits the bill to the T. For some reason I find it fitting that I start this journey by dusting off a heavy, old, classic and taking it for a spin. It somehow makes me feel like less of a poser. I think it's good that I'm getting a sense of what real cyclist's who have been doing this for longer than I've been alive went through back in the day. Anyway, the bike in now in my garage and once a nice day comes along and I get to take it out, I'll keep you posted.
This is the same model as the loaner I'm riding. Mine doesn't have all the pimp yellow water bottles or the racks and bags, but other than that, this is what I'm "training" on for now.

Friday, February 13, 2009

No Bike...No Problem

Welcome to Non-Cyclist.

This is a blog about the quest to get ready for the 2009 Livestrong Challenge. My name is Clay and along with my brothers Chad and Clint, I have signed up to ride in the 100 mile Livestrong bike ride next August in Philadelphia.

A Little History

My older brother Chad is a pretty avid cyclist and had been contemplating riding in the 100 mile race for some time. Finally, while all on the phone one night he said he had signed up. Without really thinking it through, I blurted something out like, "that would be fun, we should all do it." Clint and Chad have been to Moab twice and have done some biking together in the past. Myself on the other hand, I don't own a road bike and have never ridden one. I got a mountain bike for graduation 10 years ago that I've ridden way more than 10 times, probably at least 15.

OK, so I'm not a prime candidate for a century ride, but it sounds like a good time and more importantly it is raising money for a good cause. For more information on how the Lance Armstrong Foundation helps in the fight against cancer check out their website.


One of the ways that Chad got turned onto this event was through Fat Cyclist. If you haven't checked out this blog you are really missing out. If you have visited the site you may be thinking to yourself that the name Non Cyclist is eerily similar. Yes, it's true. I have derived a bit of inspiration from the Fat Cyclist blog. I should make it clear that this blog will be in no way as funny, entertaining, thought provoking or worthwhile as Fat Cyclist. However, I love the fact that Elden started his blog as a way to hold himself accountable in his effort to shed some pounds. Now, however it has grown to be much more. I can't replicate his story or his story telling so to learn more about him and how cancer has effected/is effecting his life read his blog. What I can tell you is that he is putting together the largest, most dedicated Livestrong Challenge team in history. I'm proud that my brothers and I are members of Team Fat Cyclist: Fighting for Susan, and I plan to use this blog to help hold myself accountable to the training/learning I need to do before race day.

I can't promise that I'll post everyday or that everything will be spelled right but if you want to take a journey with me without have to get the saddle sores, check back often to see how I'm doing. Wish me luck.
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