Monday, November 18, 2013

Touring Bikes - The Beginning

I've always enjoyed cycling. About four years ago I made the leap from a casual mountain biking cyclist to the dorkdom of being a total roadie. I even had a phase where I thought if I trained really, really hard I could  win a local crit. I never won and I also never finished in the main bunch so I did what any competitive young person would do. I gave up.

It was the smartest thing I did. Well, it was the smartest bike-related thing I did.

Firstly, I've got nothing against racing. In fact I might race again one day if I think it might be fun. But that's just it. So far I haven't had much fun racing because I always get dropped. There, I said it.

Why have I lost contact with the main pack? Because I'm slow.

Why am I slow?  Because I have other things to do besides train like crazy for races so that I don't get dropped.

My work schedule is inconsistent and sporadic. If I don't work then I lose money, and that's worse than having to deal with getting dropped during a race. And because I can't train consistently for races there's no point in trying to race when I know I'll be unprepared.

So I've ended up riding my fancy race bike for fun whenever I have time. I've realized that pretending I'm racing is more fun than actually racing. Just like little kids pretending to shoot each other with Nerf guns is more fun than little kids actually shooting each other.

So now that I've admitted to being slow and poorly suited for racing I've decided to walk towards the light.  The bright, dynamo powered light of the divine touring bike. Yes, they're pretty popular with old people but they can be cool too. Seriously.  There's even touring-bike porn like this.  Oh yeah, Fully-Loaded.

434    Fulvio touring Ireland - Kona Lanai touring bike
Touring on the edge of legitimacy.

Now some might think that riding around on a bike with panniers and saddlebags makes you look like a hippie or a homeless person. They might be right because I really don't know what hippies looked like (I was born in the 80's).  But what's even sillier is when you set off for a ride and it's overcast and freezing. Later as the sun pops out you realize it's getting really hot and wearing a jacket is stupid. You try to stuff it in your jersey pocket but it's too big. So you end up stuffing it inside the back of your bib shorts and sweating all the way down to your butt crack because you refuse to tie anything around your waist.

You can avoid all this by just riding a bike with a simple trunk bag mounted on a rear cargo rack. Just stuff the jacket in the bag and you're set.  Here's one that Rivendell sells:

Parking your bike in front of straw is so 1799.

Sure it's kind of heavy to add a rear rack and a bag to you're bike. But face it, you're fat. By pro-cyclist standards everyone's fat. You see Alberto Contador? Yeah, he's not fat but you are, get over it. So if you're gut weighs 12 extra pounds that bag and rack is probably 5 pounds max. Lose the gut and you're already ahead. Good job, fat ass. Hell, now that you have that bag you can probably carry stuff to make longer rides more comfortable and keep that 12 pound gut from coming back. Fantastic!

So do you see the appeal of a touring bike now? Even if you're not hauling a sleeping bag and tons of extra gear you can always carry something extra to add convenience to a ride across town or a ride across the continent of Asia. So there.  I'm gonna build a touring bike that's really cool.  And you're gonna watch.

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