Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Aspiring cyclist, or real cyclist?

I only bought my road bike 2 years ago.

So when I did, I thought of myself as a weekend, recreational cyclist. I remember telling a mechanic that someday I'd be a "real" cyclist, not really knowing what that meant. I suppose after two years of collecting various base layers, jerseys, shorts, tights, knickers, shoes, jackets, vests, arm warmers, leg warmers, hats, and gloves, I could potentially qualify. But what exactly is the criteria? Do I really ride often enough to be a real cyclist? Or is it more about quality than quantity? I'm not entirely sure. I know that there is definitely an intimidation factor for me any time I am around people who race, or commute by bike. Those are two classifications of cyclist that I most definitely am not. What's cool about the people I know who either race, commute by bike or both, is that they don't act as if they are in any way superior to anyone else. And I totally appreciate that, because I think they are awesome and wish I could be more like them!

So, is it the inventory of bikes one owns that qualifies a person as a real cyclist? If so, I officially have two, though I really only ride one. My poor old purple Black Diamond Ascent mountain bike, circa 1994, hangs lifelessly in my garage, knobby tires having been traded out for "road slicks" back in 2003 when I actually did ride my bike to work - a whole 2 miles. I know, impressive, huh? But sometimes after work I even took that heavy monster on some hills, and I did actually ride a 35-mile route of the Spring Century and a 55-mile route of the Pedal the Pinchot one year on that thing. I still can't believe I did that. I finally got so tired of that heavy bike that I just had to get a road bike. The difference is amazing - road bikes just fly.

One thing I have noticed is that since I've been riding, I pay so much more attention to roads when I'm driving. What I mean by that is when I'm driving on a winding, hilly road, I can't help but think "man, I'd love to ride my bike on this road!" I just love the rides out in the countryside with little or no car traffic and long climbs past farms with llamas, alpacas, cows, horses, chickens, and sheep.

I had a bike fitting today. I'm pleased to know that I have the correct size of frame (54cm) for my body geometry and a "nice cadence". I don't experience any major pain or discomfort (other than occasional foot cramping and shoulder tightness) on long rides. So all that was needed was to lower my stem by about 1 inch, as it was actually higher than my seat. Also new pedals will help. I'm excited to get some better cleats and hopefully some light shoes, but the Sidi Genius 5's are $239! I've never spent that much on a pair of shoes in my life. Ski boots, definitely, but not cycling shoes. I know it will be worth every penny, for the experiences I will have on the road. :-)

In other news: rumor has it that Levi Leipheimer will also be at the Cascade Classic along with Chris Horner, IF Astana doesn't get a last-minute invite to the Tour. Not likely, though I'd love to see Levi in the Tour again. But honestly, I hope to see them both in Bend!

How do I get over the intimidation factor of bike commuting? First of all I need a nice messenger bag, one that is comfortable to ride with, though I won't load it up with lots of heavy stuff. I'm not too excited about packing onto the Max with all the other unhappy commuting types. I don't really know my way around downtown by bike, but yeah I can drive through on my way home blindfolded. Downtown has stoplights, lots of car, bike & pedestrian traffic, streetcars, lightrail, and the dreaded TRAIN TRACKS. Oh, and bridges with narrow sidewalks. I just need to do it, because it kind of scares me. Soon. I promise.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

So. Why the Obsession?

First of all, people just don't get it if they don't ride. Some of my friends roll their eyes whenever I even mention cycling. What's cool is that many people I know DO get it, and many are way more obsessed than I am!

So - I started this to rant about whatever is going on in my brain regarding cycling, whether it is to rave about a great ride, contemplate what's going to happen in the Tour this year, or drool over hot guys with muscular, shaved legs and lycra skinsuits. ;-)

Anyway, I have to admit that I have watched both Specialized commericials (the ones featuring Tom Boonen or Paolo Bettini) several times. Even if I am watching something on Tivo, and I can fast forward through all the commercials, I always stop to watch those two. If only I could speak Italian...

I was SO elated for Levi Leipheimer to win the prologue of the Dauphine Libere! Don't even think about telling me who is winning each stage, I won't catch up until Sunday....