walking around in tap shoes and pyjamas since 2010 - my cycling log (opens in new window)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Titanium Bikes Are Made from Air

On Saturday, I went for a ride with a few other cyclists, which was a heck of a lot of fun. It was part of Bicycling for Louisville's 'commuter practice ride' series — as someone who commutes all the time, I figured I might be able to be of some use if a bunch of newbies turned up, even though I have essentially no formal experience riding in a group (at least, I hadn't any: now I have slightly less than none :D).

In fact, we wound up being a group of four: two current commuters, one road-and-mountain bike enthusiast former commuter who would still be commuting by bike if it weren't for the fact that his business requires him to put in a lot of travel between different sites with tons of equipment, and one potential commuter (I do hope he'll join us) who is also a distance runner (yeay). I believe he said he was in his 60s, and looked great -- I hope I look that good when I'm 60 something.

During this ride, I determined that cycling really does keep you young (I would not have guessed that the other commuter on the ride, for example, was more than a couple of years older than I am; in fact, he was more than a decade older). I also determined that titanium bikes are made of air.

You're probably wondering about that last bit. The road-and-mountain bike guy was riding a titanium Litespeed with carbon forks, and when we took a quick break at a local coffee shop, of course everyone had to pick it up. Um. Wow. Now I see what all the obsessing is about. I ran across some ad copy for Litespeed that says something like, "You won't believe it when you pick it up." Seriously. They're not kidding. If I had an extra $4000 or so lying around...

I'm forced to admit it: I may be a die-hard steel aficionado, but I don't think I'd mind owning a road bike as light as that one (note: I have no interest in full carbon -- the idea that it costs as much to repair as it does to replace makes me unhappy; I like to think of my bikes as long-term relationships, not 'I'll ride you 'til we hit a major pothole, then it's over' relationships). Especially not if I continue to ride 40-lb behemoths in the winter. Jumping from The Sproingbok to Swift was revelatory.

Then again, it's possible that I wouldn't like the feel of titanium as much as I like that of steel. It's possible that I'm totally imagining the difference in feel between steel and aluminum, but that doesn't mean I'm willing to chuck my preference for cro-moly just yet. That being said, I wouldn't mind dropping a couple thousand bucks on a used Litespeed Classic if I had a couple thousand bucks extra lying around (right now, school and some other stuff has to take precedence :::sigh:::).

We also climbed a rather steep hill near my old house on the way to the Clifton location of one of our LBCs. That was a blast -- apparently I'm a much better climber than I used to be. My head did not explode, nor was I forced to use my granny gear :)

In other news, much to my vexation, my rear hub keeps loosening itself. I think I'm going to swap out Swift's wheels with Traveler's. That much I can do without having to hire an acetylene torch or an angle grinder. I may have to pick up a new casette, though, as Swift was made in 1999 and some of his bits may not be compatible with Traveler's. In all honesty, though, I'm thinking about swapping out my rings and cogs anyway. I pretty much never use my granny gear, so I'm thinking about a double.

I'm also thinking about laying hands on a road bike for brevets and so forth. I could probably do the 200k on Swift, but Scott from Saturday's ride made a valid point -- on big group rides, a road bike will come in handy when drafting and pulling in a paceline, etc.

Also, one can never have too many bikes, after all. You never know when a bikeless friend might drop by and want to ride, or when you might suddenly decide you want to try racing (who me? Never!), or when it might rain or snow (so a dedicated 'weather bike' is a good idea -- ideally a bike for rain, another bike for snow, and a fully-faired racing trike with a canopy and windscreen for hail and/or high winds).

I would say, "Why didn't somebody WARN me?!" but that would be thoroughly dishonest. I knew going in that bikes were addictive; back in the day I had about five. My childhood garage hosted about ten bikes at its peak, and that was with no 'serious' cyclists in the family at the time (with only three of us actually living in the house full time, no less).

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