Today I went back to the MInnehaha Hub to try out the Bianchi Volpe ($849.99) and Castro Valley ($799.99). They were all right, but the gear ratios in the rear were fucking RIDICULOUS. The Castro Valley seemed like a neutered Volpe, having just one 42 tooth chainring in the front instead of three (28/38/48T) on the Volpe. I honestly did not like the STI shifters a whole lot. Overall, still a contender, but only in Volpe form, since I can add fenders and a rack to it and have a much more comfortable bike. I wish that I could take five of the rear speeds out and throw them away. The lady who helped me first had a name that started with a C, but I didn’t write it down. I tried a 52 and a 49, and somehow they both seemed largish — I thought that there was supposed to be some space in between the frame and one’s nuts. Maybe the 49 was okay, and would be better without the sort of knobby tires. Shock mounted seat = silly.
After that I went over to Penn Cycle where Lisa and Stan had gotten their bikes. I stopped sweating as I walked from the car, and I was about to look for some liquid awesome when this old black dude on a Scamp stopped me to ask if I could help him out.
“Can you help me out with a couple bucks for the grocery store?” he asked with a slur and some difficulty. I was about to run out into traffic because I tire easily of crackheads, when I remembered that I could call his bluff.
“Why don’t we go to the store together? I need to get something to drink anyway, like some lemonade,” I replied. Generally if a dude just wants money to booze it up he will take this chance to make one final press for cash before doing his own fleeing, but this guy just looked a little confused. I told him that if he could make it on his Scamp I could make it on foot. He agreed and we were on our way. (bonus point if you catch this shout out to Fresh Prince)
Anyway, we walked from Lyndale to the Rainbow on whatever and Lake. I still wasn’t sweating, so the arctic blast of the AC was like slipping into heaven through the back door. Jimmy (that was the old dude with the wire brush hair) picked out mustard and collard greens, then some ham hocks, short ribs, and cotto salami. I was unsure how generous I was going to have to be, but that was it. I bought a liter of organic lemonade and a liter of water. The total was less than seventeen bucks and I felt like a million. I drained the water and the lemonade by the time we got back to Lyndale, where Jimmy rolled onto the bus and I strolled into Penn Cycle.
They didn’t have anything in my size in stock, but I might go back tomorrow to try the Giant OCR3 (or was it the Giant OCR1?). Either way, Shawn laughed at my jokes, which was excellent, but the place was a little too… something. Whatever, yo.
After that I came home to pick up my bike helmet and a nalgene bottle full of water before cruising over to Freewheel Bikes. Also, I couldn’t remember where it was, despite Jeremy and another friend of a friend working there. I got there and was a little overwhelmed by their selection. Bikes were everywhere, in racks, hanging from the cieling, writhing in big sexy piles of bikes on the floor… I fired up my lost shopper look and walked around looking at all the shiny stuff. Eventually I found a dude talking to another dude with that sales dude kind of look on his face, so I made eye contact with the sales dude looking dude and he shook the other guys hand and broke away to lead me into the chocolate factory.
I find that it is much easier to talk to salespeople if you have specific models in mind. Telling someone that I’m thinking of commuting on a bike, that I am not comfortable on a mountain bike, and that I haven’t been riding a lot lately usually results in quizzical looks and a sort of “who are you, crazy person, and can you afford that $2000 piece of metal that you are eyeing” look. I said “Bianchi Volpe, Giant OCR 1/3, Felt F90, and Trek 1000″ and he gave me a look that said “I see that you have already spoken to salespeople, please let me assist in both expanding and refining your purchasing choices.”
As such he first showed me the Trek 520 in 17″ size for $1099.99. COUGH. Whoa. His note on the card said “includes rack.” I did some mental math before deciding that I should take as many bikes on rides as I could regardless of anything because otherwise I just won’t know. It was nice. It felt sturdy and reliable, and it only complained a little when I really cranked on it — just the buzzing of the chain kissing the derailleur in the front in the top gear when I was pushing hard. It was definitely more comfortable than the Volpe, but that might have just been a size thing.
After that he brought out the Trek 1000 ($570) and Trek 1200 ($750). Someone else wanted to ride the 1200, so I grabbed the 1000 and gave it a shot. It was a 50cm bike, which seemed to fit fairly reasonably, with more of a “cup your balls” action than a “move in to the back room of your scrotum for a while after graduating from college” action. It was very light. I took it out for a lap around the flat area. Once I figured out how to shift it into the top gear I mostly left it there. It was so nimble and fast that I had to do another lap. This time I really pushed it hard and the chain jumped. I stopped and fed it back on (I have had a LOT of experience from all the shady bikes I have owned) and resumed my riding. The second time that it jumped I was able to pedal backwards and save it. The third time it jumped I screamed and hit the bike with a big hammer. Okay, I downshifted and stopped cranking so hard. I don’t care what you say about my riding style. Nyeah.
Then he brought out some straight handlebarred contraption that was immensely irritating. I just couldn’t get comfortable, and I felt like I wasn’t laying down all the power that I had. Nyeah.
Jim and I chatted a bit, and he was really nice and kind of cool. I mentioned that a big benefit of having a car is blasting the stereo, and he countered that I could get a dynamo hub and run a boombox, and that when I rode faster it would get louder. How awesome would that be? He also said something about “if you always ride as fast as you do,” which I will tuck away as a compliment, because I was pushing fairly hard when I passed him that one time (he was taking the first bike out for a spin because I had said that the derailleur needed adjustment).
hybrid clipless pedals are annoying
those other kind of pedals are annoying
straight handlebars are annoying
drivetrains that are not correctly adjusted are annoying
I was rocking the sweaty funk today all day
JFC Chicken! I have teeny tiny legs!
I feel mostly productive overall for the day, but now I need to take ten showers in a row. Then, babysitting in AC. YES!