Without a time trial bike, I had to consider my steed from among my roadiest bikes. Those would be a 29 year old Trek 710 touring bike (more or less a museum piece) or my (single speed) Surly Cross-check. I even thought about pulling some of the cargo parts off the Big Dummy and riding it. In the end, I went for comfort, familiarity and dependability in my 1990 Titan Half-Trac mountain bike (better known as the one with license plate fenders). About 35 pounds, give or take. Albatross bars. Platform pedals. Seven friction-shifted gears. Continental Town and Country 1.9 tires. Vintage Rock Ring as a chain guard.
So early on a Saturday morning, I rode the Titan 30 miles in 1:56:54 from Lake Loveland to Horsetooth Reservoir and back in the company of guys in pointy helmets and 16 pound carbon-fiber bikes. To put it mildly, I stood out. As it turned out, the relay teams started in an early heat, so I got to see much of the field as they went by me. The elite riders just shot past, with their surprisingly loud disc wheels. A lot of the normal riders took the time to compliment me on my fenders or bike or remarked their impressions of my tenacity necessary to ride such a bike. A pointy helmeted guy even screamed, "Go 290! Woo!" (my number) on his way by. In a bit of a surprise, I did actually pass several people who were riding more suitably equipped bikes, but who were likely below my modest fitness level.
The experience made me really think about how compartmentalized the thinking of bicyclists is with regard to the equipment of bicycling, a perception that I noted even in myself when choosing a bike to bring to the race. Sure, I was slow and uncompetitive, but only marginally more so than if I had chosen my touring bike. At a certain level, there are distinct advantages when it comes to bike equipment, but for me and the rest of the ordinary racers, there probably isn't much of a difference. If I had added a second chainring to my Titan and taken the race slightly more seriously, I could have easily chopped 20 minutes off my time, without abandoning my 20-year old quirky bike.
That said, at least for the present time, I'm now considering a real-ish road bike. For some reason, I'm liking the idea of a "magenta and macaroni" colored late 1980s Dave Scott Ironman Centurion. In the mean time, don't be surprised if I'm riding the Big Dummy a bit faster than normal.
|Heading out onto the course.|
|Team Molasses. Photo by Hazel (age 4)|