Monday, January 09, 2012

Seminar, test ride, & snow

On Sunday the Bike Me DC meet-up group convened on the Vienna branch of Spokes, Etc for a "Winter Cycling" seminar. The staff went over the usual information of which clothes and accessories will keep a cyclist warm, plus the idea of layering so one can cool off as the exertion increases the body temperature. They also covered winter bike maintenance. I hadn't thought to check the brake pads for bits of gravel and other detritus which gets washed up/blown onto the road and/or trail. They covered lights (of both the "see" and "be seen" varieties) and reflective items. I didn't feel comfortable piping up with ideas for cheaper alternatives for clothing and accessories during the seminar itself, but Scott sent a couple of non-standard-sized cyclist women in my direction for info on the products I use and where to purchase them (Novara vented windbreaker and Canari padded cycling shorts for instance...). I'm all for supporting my local bike shop(s), and trust me I do buy lots of bits and bobs whenever I succumb to bike hypochondria, but sometimes they don't offer the larger-sized cyclist the gear she wants and/or needs.

Bike Me DC at Spokes
Bike Me DC at Spokes
<vanity>My hair looks pretty good from the back</vanity>

After the seminar, Scott and I went our separate ways in the store. I browsed through the road bikes and asked the closest associate, Nate, if he could pull out a Specialized Dolce for me to examine. He happily pulled down a Comp style and gave me tons of information about the bike. I mean, tons. He picked up the bike and handed it over to me. WOW! As light as I thought Rose was compared to the Schwinn (before I loaded Rose down with all her commuting gear), this bike was even lighter! Nate explained how the shifters worked -- I've ridden a road bike once, as a tween, and it was one of the more terrifying experiences of my life -- and gave me a run-down of the components. We geeked about last year's Backroads Century (he did the full century; I did the 30 mile route) and he said I should skip the half century and train up for the full century this year since I'm already putting so many miles on my commuter. And then he said the most dangerous thing of all: did I want to take a test ride down to the W&OD and see how it handled.

Dolce Comp Compact
Dolce Comp Compact
I'm not wild about the colorway being almost the same as Rose's, but I'll deal. #firstworldproblem

*gulp* Okay. He gave me a helmet, I rolled up my pants leg and left Scott as collateral, and then hit the sidewalk for the most beautifully smooth ride I've ever known. Again, as smoothly as Rose felt, compared to the Schwinn, this ride was Uh-May-Zing. I hardly felt the brick sidewalk as I pedaled along and played with the shifters and brakes. I turned around at the trail and rode back to the store as I didn't want anything to happen to the bike on a test ride.

I was smitten. I was sad to give her back to Nate, but if it comes down to a mortgage payment or a bike, I will pay for the bike the mortgage. But! I now know where my bonus is going. And yes, I know I said that I wouldn't buy another bike until I'd had Rose for a year, but I do need to get used to the bike before I ride a hundred miles on it, don't I?

In my mind, I've already named the bike "Nancy". I'm not sure why as it's not a particularly fast-sounding name but it felt natural. In fact, because it's called a Dolce, I feel like I should name it something Italian. We'll see what happens when I actually get one home.

In other news, it's been snowing off and on this afternoon and it's been more on for the past half hour or so. The grass and cars have a decent covering and the parking lot is wet. The deeply closeted daredevil side of me wishes I'd been feeling well enough to bike in the cold air this morning so that I could feel all bad@ss on the commute home.

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