Sunday, June 22, 2008

An adventure and a demo

My nephew turned one year old on Saturday. Amy had to go to a baby shower at lunch so if I was going to get there on time we would have to drive separately. My cheapness reared it's ugly head and decided that paying for the gas to drive two cars all the way up there would be way too expensive. So I pulled up google maps and figured out is was only like 50 miles to my sister's house. I decided I would ride my bicycle there and catch a ride with Amy on the way back.

I woke up early on Saturday and the weather didn't look great but mentally I had already committed. So I headed out under a light sprinkle. I decided my family would not be pleased for me to stand around in lycra and bike shoes for the birthday party so I carried some spare clothes and flip flops in my backpack I use for commuting. I even threw a third water bottle in there just in case I got extra thirsty.

The ride up to Dahlonega was very beautiful. I saw some cool farms and rolled through a couple of town squares. The cars were all really considerate to me. A couple of super close passes and one honker but really much better than I anticipated. It helped that for the most part there was a pretty good shoulder all along Highway 9 where I could ride and cars could still pass with very little effort.

It has been awhile since I have had a good adventure and it felt good to do something that scared me a little. I have a ridden a lot of short distance rides lately but nothing of this length so I wasn't 100% sure I could make it. Even thought it took me almost 3.5 hours to get there, I felt great the whole time. I bet I could have even turned around rode right back home if I wanted to.

Once I got there my sister put on a big show and told everyone how far I rode. I have hard time feeling comfortable in these types of situations. I don't really feel like what I did was all that impressive and having someone hype me up like that makes me feel weird. Plus it leads to whole bunch of conversations where people tell me why they can't ride their bicycle. I don't know how to handle those situations either. I do my best to listen and try to understand their point of view though.

I think humans are pretty amazing and accomplish some incredible feats when they set their minds to it. I also think they can do an amazing job of coming up with reasons why something is not possible if they decide they don't want to do it. I don't think this is what these people want to hear though.

Maybe I should have just told them the truth that I was scared to do it. I had no idea if I could make it. I did it anyway though because I knew I would feel really good about myself if I did make it. Plus I carried my cell phone and figured someone would take pity on me and come get me if I bonked, got lost, or if the weather got too bad. It was not like I was going to Mars or something.

Sunday Amy and I went to a bike demo at Chicopee since Amy's bike is a little too small for her. We knew that about her bike when we bought it three years ago, but we wanted a bike with the lowest standover possible so Amy would be able to get off the bike quick if needed. Amy's skills have been rapidly improving lately, and we have been going on much longer rides together. Her poor fitting bike is causing some neck and shoulder pain so it is time to upgrade.

We got to ride three bikes at the demo. One small Gary Fisher HiFi, one medium Trek Fuel Ex, and one Gary Fisher HiFi 29er. The lady helping Amy pick out her bike was pretty funny. She was ordering around everyone telling them what bikes they should ride and what size they should ride for each one of those bikes. Finally this one guy yelled at her and said enough with the sizes. I think he was half joking but it was funny that I wasn't the only she was driving nuts. She made a crack to me about how "tame" I was for riding my bike since it has a rigid fork so I might have been just a little put off.

We were very happy to be able to ride the bikes though. The Fisher 26er was fun. It's suspension was very plush and going downhill was a blast. It wasn't much of a pedaler though. I owned two Fisher's and neither on of them every shifted of felt normal when pedaling. I think it is there trademark.

The Trek was fast fast fast. I was blowing through turns at very un-James like speeds. If I had to try and keep up with chocolate girl for the day this is the bike I would want. I did notice that the front end did not seem to soak up bumps as well as the fisher. I could feel every bump on the Fuel even though the wheel never seemed like it was out of control. It tracked really well it just let my hands know about every bump.

The Fisher 29er was disappointing. The parts on it where no where near as nice as the parts on the other bikes we rode. The Fox fork on the 29er felt like one of those crappy elastomer forks they put on K-mart bikes compared to the 5" forks we rode on the other two bikes. I ride a 29er so I was very disappointed that I couldn't like this bike the best.

Gainesville Sorba was nice enough to cook some food up on the grill. I cleared us a spot in the woods and pulled out a nice log to sit on while Amy procured our lunch (I am still waiting on my change). We had a relaxing picnic in the shade and watched that crazy lady tell people what to do. All in all pretty good day.


Tatch said...

What kind of 29er do you ride? I have been wondering how the ride characteristics compare to a 26". I have read a ton of reviews but have not had the chance to experiment for myself. I take it you ride yours rigid? this is TJ by the way

Amy said...

Ok, so I did make a nice living for a few years as a kid by accidentally "keeping the change" but I swear I've given up that practice! I left it sitting on the counter last night--slightly grubby and crumpled up but still usable! :)

I enjoyed trying out all of the different bikes. The small Gary Fisher was really really light, and felt really cushy to ride. I also liked the Trek bike a lot, the suspension felt very cushy on that one too.

I was really interested to try the 29er. All in all, I enjoyed riding it. In terms of the negatives, the brakes were squealy and grindy and the front shock seemed rougher, if that's the word, than the one I ride now--and very different than the first two bikes I rode yesterday. The really cool thing about it though was the way it just glided over huge rocks and roots. Usually I feel like I have to hit a rock or a large root just right, or my front tire will bounce or slide off of it a a little, so that I have to quickly correct to keep from falling. With this bike though, huge roots that I would usually go out of my way to avoid felt like nothing. The wheels just rolled over them effortlessly with no slipping for skidding. It was a very cool feeling.

I'm exited to try some more new bikes--it's fun to try them out!


James Bigler said...

Hey TJ. Both wheel sizes are a lot of fun. The smaller wheels turn quicker and feel very nimble. The bigger wheels resist unwanted direction changes and give a little more cushion. Probaby just need to think about what you want out of your ride.

chocolate girl said...

Glad Amy got to try out some new bikes and to feel the differences. It will open up a whole new world when she gets one! I liked reading about your commute Saturday, and totally relate to your thoughts. I used to do that alot, and the worst part was dealing with the apres-comments. Just wanted to be left alone & enjoy the feeling of satisfaction it gave. Too scared of cars nowadays to do it. Ride safe:-)