The Dream Star's Corner

Dare to Dream...and DO!
walk. run. fly.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Long awaited bike post!

Just as I posted something about swimming when all of my swim gear arrived, I would be remiss if I didn't give the same attention to my cycling journey.

So here she is...

My bike!!! Isn't she purrtty?

The story...

I'm usually a VERY decisive person. I almost ALWAYS know what I want immediately and can normally decide on anything in a matter of hours...but for some reason, I could not settle on a bike or a bike option!! When I first decided to get a road bike, my strategy was to save as much money as possible, go to a bike shop and buy whatever the sales people put in front of me...kinda like buying your first pair of running shoes. You get fitted and you just buy what they suggest.

But with bikes it's not quite the same thing. There are SO MANY other factors and not all of them are relevant when you're first starting out. I'm an engineer by trade, so I work off of cold hard attributes, not if-then/conditional options. So the longer it took for me to make a decision, the more anxious I became with the entire decision.

The first thing I had to do was get fitted. I went to a local bike shop (LBS) and told them my measurements and my budget (which I didn't really know if it was reasonable or not). They put me on a Trek SL 1000 and a Trek 2.1 women's specific design (WSD). But before that, they explained the basics - bike materials, difference between fork materials, weight, WSD vs. men's design, etc. So I learned very quickly why one bike could cost $800 and another cost $6,000. Ok.

But that didn't help me get closer to a decision. The next question posed to me was "so what are you looking for in a bike?" As I stood there with my 'deer in headlights' expression, I simply said I'm new to all of this and I'm hoping to see if I like the sport of triathlon or even cycling as a cross training option while training for races. I tried out the bikes and got a feel for the difference in quality (read: and in price). I left...without a bike and no closer to a decision.

I did MORE research and found another bike designer - Jamis. I posted about the Jamis bike sometime ago. After riding that bike, I was in love! I knew what I was looking for and what worked for me at this level and time and the Jamis Ventura Comp Femme responded to all of that. I ordered the bike in my size and waited...and waited....and waited....

As I waited, I grew anxious. My triathlon training friend mentioned that she bought a bike from Craigslist and other friends on Twitter mentioned finding great deals...and after a while, I felt somewhat confident with searching the ads myself without feeling completely overwhelmed. So that's what I did... I "window shopped", inquired about a few bikes, and continued to wait for my Jamis bike. Then I found a Trek 1.2 WSD in my size!

I'm 5'4-1/2" so finding a bike on Craigslist that fit me was a major win! There are so many amazonian cyclists out there. lol "This bike fits me and I'm 5'10"...I'm 5'11" - WSD..." Ok, really!? So there aren't ANY 5-foot and a half people out there who like to buy and sell bikes? lol

So anywho, I emailed the girl who was selling it and asked about the bike's availability and she said it was still available. The story is (yes, I'm telling all her business lol) that she had to move away for a job or something and couldn't take the bike. She left it with a friend in DC to sell. The posted price was $550. I got in touch with her friend and we made plans to meet up. Problem was that it was also Memorial Day weekend/week (it was actually Memorial Day when I got in touch with him) and he mentioned that someone else was supposed to take a look at the bike later on that day.

I had to coordinate with my Dad for him to tag along because I wasn't in the mood to get beat up and robbed just in case things didn't go well. I've never done a Craigslist deal before so that's the way I pictured it. lol Unfortunately Dad wasn't available on any of the following days until Saturday - FIVE WHOLE DAYS LATER!

I just KNEW the bike wouldn't last that long. But surprisingly it did!! So after swim class, Dad and I drove to Washington DC to meet up with the seller's rep. I met him in an alley - how befitting. lol But seriously, he was in a really really nice part of DC so it was the best place to try out the bike without dealing with traffic and such. I hopped on and it fit! That was a plus. I tried taking off but struggled. It was only my 3rd time on a road bike including the test rides at the LBS. It didn't help that the pedals were clip in but I dealt with it, and with a little push from Dad (just like old times), I was on my way lol.

I tried shifting but it sounded like one of the shifters was stuck. All I heard was a clicking noise. I didn't think anything of it and figured it was user error given the fact that I JUST learned what a shifter was about 3 weeks prior. I mentioned it to the seller and he told me that I was in two different gears or something - I'ont know... I just said ok, and handed over $500. Yep, they dropped the price. So Dad and I loaded the bike in the backseat and I was on my way to Baltimore, happy as a clam.

Then the bike sat...and sat... I didn't know what to do with it! Literally...I did not know what to do with the bike. I didn't know a THING about bikes and feared going out and breaking my leg. Dramatic, I know. I eventually took it to the LBS and bought some regular pedals so I could at least ride the darn thing. I know - EEEEVERYONE says "You really should just learn how to clip in... get the pedals with cages!" etc... but look, what I've learned about myself from swimming is if some new activity requires an excessive amount of muscle memory and new coordination skills, I'd rather learn each thing in parts (if I have a choice - obviously with swimming, you don't really have a choice). So there you have it. YES! I own a road bike...with regular pedals lol

I still have the clip in pedals though. So while the mechanic placed my 'remedial pedals' on the bike, I asked him to do a 10 second once-over to see if anything looked out of place. While the bike was clamped up, he checked the cables, spun the wheels, and proceeded to shift through the gears. He noticed some scratches on the bike and mentioned that the bike had been flipped at some point or the rider ran into something. Next he told me that the left shifter was broken. One thing I learned while shopping for bikes in the <<$1,000 range was if a part system breaks, you have to replace the entire thing because many of the parts are plastic and can't be pieced back together. I asked him how much it would cost to replace something like that and made an appointment to have the shifter replaced. He mentioned that the bike was ok to ride, and explained what I would need to do if I want to use the shifter between now and when I dropped the bike off for repair.

First lesson learned - but I figured this was the best way for me to learn. Thankfully everything else looked good to him. I also bought the other basics: helmet, gloves, chain cleaner and the little apparatus to go with it, and some basic tools. I made plans to go out with Mom to try out my bike. We set a date to head out to Druid Hill Park for June 16th, the same day as the Baltimore 10 miler. I figured I'd ride to the lake and do a few flat loops to get a feel for the bike. So we went out on that beautiful late spring day and had a ball! I cheered on all of the runners as they cruised through the finisher's chute and cheered on some of my girls from BGR! Baltimore and my FAVORITE Geico Race Pacers (from the Rock n' Roll USA Half Marathon)!! So much fun to just cheer! Then I headed off for some light riding.

HOLY COW! RIDING FEELS GREAT!!! AND FREEEEEE! lol I thought running gave me a rush, but cycling is just as awesome....but in a different way. I didn't do too much but noticed that I should definitely look into purchasing some cycling shorts. Bumpy roads are not your friend when you don't have a lot of cushion. lol

I eventually dropped off my bike and since then, I've gotten it back with a brand new shiny shifter. The mechanic said the other one works properly and I'm good to go! Since then, I've met up with my Triathlon Club for an early morning speed workout...

Did I mention it was EARLY!??!

... and learned a little more about HOW to ride in certain gears - I still have a ways to go but what's so awesome is that my Tri Club mentor is a VERY strong cyclist so that's a huge help.

I have my shopping list and I'm still filling the "tri" gaps in my gear and nutrition. And I'm still in need of a bike rack because this isn't going to work...

We'll see how things go as I learn how to experience life on two wheels. :)


  1. Totally jealous! I'm dying for a new bike!

    1. Aww! Keep checking craigslist! You can find some great deals on there. :)