Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Back in the Saddle

Have I mentioned that my bike was stolen? Odds are that either this is news to you, or you've heard entirely too much about it over the past two months.

It's still a bit of a shock to me. It was ripped off from the bike rack in back of my office, where I've been locking it up almost every workday for well over a year. Nobody else has had any problems with theft, so my co-workers and I were all pretty stunned.

I filed a police report and unhappily waited, but had no illusions: I knew that the odds of retrieving it were slim. The only silver lining was that, since it went in late December, I wouldn't have been doing much riding over the next month anyways. Still... I was just a few rides away from 1500 miles for the year, plus I just hate the feeling of losing something like that. It's the most costly item I've ever had taken from me.

After a while I received the official letter from the Los Gatos police department that (nicely) said that they weren't looking for it any more. I sulked for a bit longer, but after heading into a stretch of glorious weather (70 degrees? In February? For a Midwestern boy like me, that's unfathomable and undeniable), I was moved to take action.

Prior to the theft, I'd been telling everyone that my next bike would be a road bike. My original bike, a Specialized Sirrus hybrid, was a compromise, since I couldn't decide if I'd only be riding on a paved trail or if I'd also be heading off-road at all. I've since come to realize that the road options in the area are ample for me, and it made sense that my next bike would take advantage of all that.

Still, when I said that my next bike would be a road bike, I was thinking "next bike" in terms of the next five or ten years, not later in the aughts. When I came to face the actual decision, I found myself resisting. First, with the prospect of loss fresh in my mind, it seemed unwise to drop over a grand on a bike. Second, for the kind of riding I'm doing now, day to day, a hybrid still makes more sense. I share the trail with other riders, runners, dogs, strollers, etc. The hybrid's construction keeps me very visible and encourages me to sit upright where I can see and response to the myriad mobile obstacles on the horizon. Altogether, it seemed the way to go.

I finally went and got it yesterday. I felt a little bit sheepish when I returned to Wheel Away... after all, I'd bought the exact same bike from them just two years ago. They were great as always, though, and in seemingly no time at all I was happily on my way again.

I must say, I do like this new bike. It's another Sirrus, but they've touched up the design. There are more shiny metal parts now, which will look crummy in a year but look really sharp right now. There are plenty of other smaller changes as well. The handles are more textured now, with a broader grip. The seat is a higher-quality leather, and the styling on all the bike looks better.

I did my first serious riding on it today. It seems to be going pretty well... the biggest problem I've had so far is with the front shifter. It doesn't want to move from second to third gear, but after some trial and error, I've found that it will shift most of the time if I stop pedaling while I shift. That's different behavior than on my previous Sirrus, so I may have them look at the dérailleur when I take it in for my tune-up.

Other than that, though, I was very pleased. Honestly, as pleased with myself as with the bike. After two months of absolutely no riding, I was dreading getting back into shape on it. I won't lie - I did feel pretty beat when I pulled into work - but nowhere close to the pain when I first rode to work. I also realized all the little things I'd gotten good at without even noticing. For example, the toe clips. I went for a whole year either not using them or using only one, due to all the trouble I had with them, but now, after just opening them up a tad, I was surprised by how effortless it has become to slip my feet on and off my pedals.

If nothing else, this experience has taught me that I need to value the time that I have, because I don't know how long it will last. I realized that I never named my previous bike, and resolved not to make the same mistake. So, after one day, I've settled on one: Asfaloth. Shadowfax would have been the obvious choice, but hey, I need to save a cooler name for the better bike that I'll be getting in the future. Hopefully a decade from now.


  1. you lost your bike! Yikes! Glad to hear you have a replacement and yes; I too have learned that everything we have is ephemeral. Seize the day and enjoy every moment!