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Monday, October 10, 2016

The Upgrade

Telling you that I had not been looking at new (and used) bikes for a year or more is flat out untrue.  From the moment I discovered that I enjoyed cycling, I was looking for another bike.  Heck, maybe even before I bought my first bike I wanted a cool bike.  You know, one of those sexy triathlon bikes you see them riding at Kona.  Those are way cool.

A triathlon bike might sound to an outsider like what I needed anyway.  I do triathlon.  I should ride a triathlon bike.  Not true and not what I bought.  Please remember that I am only a short course triathlete at the moment.  Sprint races with bike rides of 12-15 miles do not justify a special bike.  Even Olympic distances with twice as many cycling miles renders a tri-bike as overkill.  Do you see them at these races?  Plenty of them.  But unless the course has a lot of long straight sections, it just doesn’t make much difference.

This is why I bought another road bike.  Until I graduate to Olympic distances with an eye on 70.3, I’m sticking with a road bike and keeping the dollars in my pocket.  Not to worry.  Just as I found a way to justify the new road bike, I will find a way to justify a second bike and it will be a triathlon bike.

After doing some research, I decided on a budget and a list of “must have” features.  If I could not find a bike that met the criteria, I would not buy a bike.  At one point I identified another Fuji, the Gran Fondo, that was a fit.  That was soon replaced with a Ridley Fenix that I loved.  It even had Di2 shifters (think digital) which was another notch up the ladder than I had dreamed.  Riddled with uncertainty, I decided to give it a few days to be completely confident in the purchase.  Those days cost me the bike.  I guess there was just one of this model left in the United States and now someone else owns it.

This disappointment led to more than a month of disinterest.  I didn’t want to settle for just any bike.
With the newfound justification conveyed in the previous post, I went shopping again.  I took a broader approach and found that well-known US manufacturer TREK made a bike that on paper sounded exactly like what I needed.  The TREK Domane was in the endurance category.  Like my Fuji, this simply means you don’t lean so far forward in an aggressive position.  It increases air resistance, but is easier on the lower back.  The Domane also has several unique design features that reduce impact and body vibration on rough roads.  Couple that design with a carbon fiber frame and you’ve got one of the least bone jarring rides around.

Bone jarring it turns out seems to be my biggest energy zap.  After the Tour de Italia 50-mile ride I was sore all over for days.  I’m sorry, but there is no chance I’d be able to log 65 miles in a 70.3 race with enough left in the tank to run a half marathon.  I needed a bike to minimized the impact rough roads seems to have on this 48 year old body.

Fortunately, my LBS (local bike shop) had several Domanes with different features.  The Domane 4.5 was in the lower-middle to middle price point and as my wife likes to say “it was on sale.”

So I purchased the TREK Domane 4.5 Disc.  It did not have the digital shifters I dreamed of, but did have disc brakes.  Newer technology on the breaking side of things and some say the wave of the future.  The jury is deliberation on that bold claim.  The bike’s components are several steps up in quality.  Everything from seat to wheels is better quality that on my Fuji.  And lighter.  The key features that made the switch worthwhile are:

Carbon Fiber vs. Aluminum Frame
Shimano Ultegra vs. Shimano 105 Shifters

The shifters just make this bike feel top end.  The 105’s were fine, but the precision and ease of these new ones is amazing.  Heck, the whole bike just feels and sounds solid.  Like an extension of my body.

Will this bike make me faster?  Not noticeably so after the first 150 miles, but a two hour effort last Saturday was very enjoyable.  That’s what I’m after anyway.  Something I enjoy riding and calls my name when the skies are clear.

So, I write these boring posts about my bikes because it somehow helps me justify what I’m doing.  It’s my money, I can do what I want…as long as my wife approves.

Ride in Peace, Rest in Grace