Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Austin vay-kay


I almost plum forgot to write a little bit about my newest addition to the family. When I got to Austin for the vacation we took in early August, I had shipped down the Takara from a few posts ago to use and keep with my brother down there. Well, I rode that for a couple of days, but then I noticed a CL ad for a bike I had actually been trying to get my brother to buy was still hanging around. It was for a Felt 85 and was a sort of "must sell!" type deal and seemed pretty cheap already. I think he was asking $400 for it. It's an aluminum road bike, circa mid-90s maybe? Well, I wrote the guy telling him that I wasn't really in the market per se, but perhaps I could cough up $360. He went for it. Why it was so hard to sell that bike, I have no idea! It's terrific! It has a Shimano Sora group on it, which is a pretty low end group for them, but it's still just a super nice zippy light racing bike. My first aluminum road bike. I only got to ride it for about 4 days, but it was SO fun. I actually thought about shipping in back to Chicago to continue with the fun, but decided it'd be nice to not have to procure another bike for my time in Austin. I ended up being able to sell the Takara to a good old friend of mine currently living in Paris, but who comes back to Austin pretty regular and wanted a bike to keep there as well.

I took this bike on one good solo 10 mile ride. Heading west on a bike trail over the MoPac expressway onto Far West Blvd. a well-to-do-ish hilly thoroughfare, I got my first experience with the Shimano STI levers or "brifters" (brake shifters) as, I believe, Sheldon Brown tagged them. This is really an efficient way to ride a bike! It's like you are just joined to it, with all controls immediately in your hands at all times. I reached about the 4.5 mile mark at a steep downhill grade that leads on out of town and got up to about 35 mph according to the computer. What a rush! However, about half a mile down the hill, I realized I'd have to make it all the way back up and needed to be ready for an evening out in about an hour, so I turned back. I had to go all the way to the granniest of granny gears with this 24-speed drivetrain to crawl back up at around 7mph. I got my exercise though!

I'm looking forward to taking some long, hilly rides on this bike for sometime to come. I think I will have to go to some sort of shoe/cleat setup pretty soon though, as I got stuck in the rather awkward toe clips on this bike a couple of times throughout the 4 days of riding it, leading to comical slow-motion flop-overs at a couple of stops!

Overall the trip to Austin was quite enjoyable sans car. We rode an average of about 15 miles per day in temperatures at or near 100 degrees. It was a good workout even with pretty leisurely paces. Austin is definitely ramping up on some off-street bike trails, though it still falls far short of places like Madison, WI, in which off-street bike travel is really a quite feasible way to get around all over town. Chicago still has a long way to go before we'll see anything more significant than painted bike lanes which also serve as expressways for the occasional psychotic car driver and parking lanes for service vehicles.

Here is a picture of the Felt:

Also, here's my Austin friend Adam's really nice Surly Long Haul Trucker. He's setup with a sort of urban/randonneur style. This was the first time I've seen the "Midge" bar, which is kind of a cross between a drop bar and a moustache bar, or really a drop bar with the drops flared out at a 45 degree angle rather than straight down. He's set up with cross levers in their intended "interrupter" fashion, as secondary brake levers (these are very much in favor today as primary brake levers for all manner of city bike/fixie, etc. conversions. Nice bar-end shifting too.

A pretty sweet ride, all in all:

No comments: