Tag Archive: mountain bike


Road Noob: Part 2

 

CONTINUED FROM Road Noob: Part 1

 

When I resolved to buy a road bike, you wanna talk about a smorgasbord of simultaneous emotions.  I was fucking bummed because I thought I was “resigning” or “downgrading” to a road bike (because, you know, mountain bikes are fuckin’ ‘ard).  I was thrilled because, holy shit, a shiny new bike!!  And I was dreading the inevitable “WTF, another bike?!” from the missus.  Ugh.

In the end, I bit the bullet and nailed a titanium road bike.  Oooh, titanium… so ‘90s.  Every fucker out there’s on a carbon fiber bike these days.  Titanium is so, so passé.  They’re the harem pants of road bikes.  But because I’d come from a mountain biking background, where everything is about durability – because let’s face it, you’re gonna fuck shit up when you’re trying to ride a bike across rocks and streams and logs and badgers – the idea that my fat and clumsy ass might inevitably shatter a carbon fiber frame scared the living shit out of me (reality check: carbon’ll hold up just fine).  Theory being that I can get titanium re-welded if I fuck it up.  If I fuck up a carbon fiber frame, all I’m getting an ass full of carbon fiber shrapnel.  Fuck that.

Nevermind that it’s impossible to choose from all the carbon fiber bikes out there.  There are thirty gajillion models to choose from, how the fuck do you make sense of it all.  Narrowing it down from only a handful of titanium options made the whole process more manageable.  [Let’s, for the time being, ignore the fact that there’s really nothing wrong with a carbon bike, I just wanted a titanium frame to be different.  OK?  OK.]

So I got the bike.  Off I go, right?  Fuck no.

There’s a lot of shit to work out when you make a wholesale change to what bike you’re riding.  Going from mountain bikes to road bikes is not like going from white toast to whole wheat.  It’s more like going from a rack of ribs to a salad.

As a result, I’ve had to relearn a shit ton of new things about cycling.  Things like:

HelmetHelmets.  Mountain bike helmets typically have a bill (visor).  I have no idea why but they do.  All the riding I’ve ever done has been under a canopy of woods, so I have no idea what that bill’s shielding me from.  And I’ve been using the same mountain bike helmet model for over a half-dozen years.  It’s the only helmet I use when riding my Frankenstein bike on the road.  Mainly because I’m already riding a completely unconventional fucked up monstrosity.  A mismatched mountain bike helmet? Perfect!  But roadies don’t wear billed helmets.  Oh no.  Roadie helmets have a billon vents and are made of carbon fiber (again!) and cost a trillion dollars.  Oh no, what to do!  Fuck it, I bought a road helmet.  I’m such a goddamn sucker.

On One MidgeHandlebars.  My Frankenstein bike has these cool flared dropbars (above).  They look a bit weird, but they’re massively comfortable.  This new road bike has conventional dropbars.  Ugh, another goddamn thing I’ve gotta (re)learn.

Saddle.  All my mountain bikes have exactly the same saddle.  That’s what my ass likes, so that’s what my ass gets.  All these road bikes seem to come with these thin wafer saddles.  Different saddles for different rides, I get it.  I guess they have little need for all that taint-saving structure on mountain bike saddles.  But which one to use?  This one’s thin, but is it thin enough?  That one’s narrow, but is it narrow enough?  WTF.

Road bike tiresTires.  So, so many tire choices.  With mountain bikes, I got quite good at understanding the tires.  There’s visual common sense that plays a big part.  Different tires have different tread patterns.  You can make a pretty well educated guess on how different tires will work on different terrains.  Makes tire selection not an entirely complicated affair.  Road bike tires?  There are four trillion models out there and they’re all slick.  How the fuck do you tell what’s a good tire and what’s a shit tire?  Getting up to speed on road tires has been a fucking tedious affair.  Also, I used to be able to score brilliant mountain bike tires for about $30 pop.  Why the fuck do road tires cost $80 a pop?  I blame the overall roadie populace for willingly overpaying for all sorts of shit.

Pedals.  Fuck road pedals.  Road pedals are big and clunky and they all use these massive cleats bolted to the sole of your cycling shoes.  And of course, these cleats aren’t compatible with mountain bike shoes.  Of course.

Shoes.  Fuck road shoes.  These things look like ass, with all the ratchets and straps.  And they all have these slick soles that’ll guarantee you’ll slip and bust your ass when you’re off the bike.  Speaking of off  the bike, those massive cleats on slick road shoes make you walk like a duck that’s just shit his pants.  I’m sticking with my mountain shoes and mountain pedals.

Shorts.  Roadies and their fucking bologna-skin outfits.  Mountain riders wear baggy shorts.  I’ve never worn anything but baggy shorts when I ride.  My ass is too fat to wear skintight lycra shorts without some modesty shorts to hide behind.  Fuck you, I’m riding with baggy shorts.

So much shit to think about.  So many rules…  Ahhh yes, “The Rules”

Velominati“The Rules” are a crowdsourced “sacred doctrine” devised by the brilliant cycling iconoclastic site, Velominati.  Velominati’s “The Rules” are fucking ace.  They’re hilarious.  But they’re also the quintessential road cycling commandments.  I love rules for things.  But while I love how fucking hardcore some of the rules are, there’s just no fucking way I’m adhering to all of them.

Because whether roadies want to admit or not, there’s a roadie mold, and it chaps my taint and I’m not doing it.  I’m not riding with a fucking heart rate monitor.  I’m not measuring my cadence.  I never want to know what a VO2 max reading means.  I sure as fuck am not shaving my legs.  I’m never wearing a bib.  I’m riding with sleeveless jerseys when it’s 100-degrees out.  I’m gonna keep wearing baggy shorts.  And I’ll keep riding with booze onboard.

I’m just gonna go out there and ride this stupid bike.

 

 

Road Noob: Part 1

Ti BikeJust over eight years ago, the missus and I were expecting our first kid.  And as fat and out-of-shape as I am now, I was even more grotesquely overweight then.  I was over my ideal weight by about 50lbs or so.  Absolutely no athletic ability to speak of, I got winded walking up the three steps to the front door of my house.  I was fat, repulsive, and I realized that this was no way to greet my firstborn.

So I bought a $300 entry-level mountain bike and started huffing it around town.  Then I took the bike the dirt and decided that a $300 bike wasn’t something I should use to bomb around these dirt trails.

As I have a slightly obsessive personality, one thing led to another, and eight years later, I ended up with eight bikes in my garage – each one quite different from the next.  Dual suspension, geared hardtail, singlespeed hardtail, geared 29er, singlespeed 29er, the list goes on.  But they were all mountain bikes.

I took pride in riding mountain bikes.  Because mountain bikes are fucking hard.  Mountain bikes are big and burly, not skinny and frail like road bikes.  Mountain bikes have big chunky tires that eat up the earth, not thin little pussy tires that glide on the road.

But I went further.  While everyone’s riding aluminum bikes, I only rode steel frames.  Heavy, tough steel rides.  And I assembled almost all of them myself.  I bought the frames, I bought the bike parts, I bought tools, and I gradually learned how to assemble bikes in my garage.  I was obsessed with building bikes.  If I’m honest, I probably enjoyed tinkering with bikes more than actually riding them.

In that time, I’ve had nothing but disdain and bucketsful of fuck you for road bikes and the sinewy, shaven fuckfaces who ride them.  Road bike riders are goddamn nerds.  And nerds ruin everything.  Road bike nerds are the fucking worst.  These shitheads with their immaculately specced carbon fiber bikes with carbon wheels and carbon parts and their shitty skin-tight bike clothes that are color coordinated with their Kenny Powers sunglasses and matching helmets, and their shaved legs and heart rate monitors, all nerding over their wattage and VO2 max and cadence and GGGAAAARRGGGGHHH, fuck you, fuck you to hell, roadies!

God, I hate roadies.

But the sad reality is that over the past two years or so, my time on dirt trails dwindled to almost nothing.  Trail riding takes time.  It takes time to get all your gear together, it takes time to actually get to the trail, and when you’re there, you wanna take your time to enjoy the trail.  Mountain rides go slow compared to road rides.

Having a couple of ingrate kids with increasing demands (soccer! baseball! camp!) meant time that would’ve been spent on the trails was now rapidly being sucked away.  A three-hour trail ride now turned into a mere hour-long sprint on the road.  To do this, I had to convert one of my mountain bikes for the road.

This bike was a proper Frankenstein’s monster.  I had bought the bike for $50 from my local bike shop and had immediate stripped it of all its shitty parts, then had the whole thing repainted.  Then through some manner of witchcraft and sheer luck, I was able to cram road wheels (which are larger than mountain bike wheels) into the frame, and cobble together something was somewhat roadworthy.  This beast would serve as my road ride for over two years.

But it was far from perfect.  The chain would fall off the bike frequently.  Using road bike parts on a mountain bike frame had its challenges.  Most of all, it was slow as fuck.  The combination of being an older heavy lugged steel frame with only 9 speeds meant that I wasn’t about to suffer windburn on my rides.

Denial: not just a river in Egypt, as they say.  I was in denial so long about needing a road bike, I can’t even pinpoint the moment when I finally did face up to the fact that my Frankenstein bike wasn’t cutting it anymore.  I mean, fuck road bikes, right?  I don’t ride road bikes.  Asshole nerds ride road bikes.  And you know who else ride road bikes?  Old people.  Old fucks whose bodies can’t hack it any longer on a mountain bike.  Because they’ve gone soft.  And old.  I’m not old, I’m still young!  That’s what I kept telling myself over and over again.  Somehow, in my head, I’d conjured up the perception that getting a road bike is a sign of giving up, growing old.  I wasn’t prepared to do that.

But then, I went and bought a fucking road bike anyway.

 

TO BE CONTINUED…