Sunday, January 25, 2009

Return of the wedgies!

A long time ago, in a city far far away....

I rode a "normal" bicycle, or really a few of them. A Free Spirit 10 speed (what happened to that thing?), followed by a Schwinn Varsity Deluxe (purchased in HS, stolen in college), replaced by a Trek 360 (ran the frame into a carport years later on a roof rack), then a Paramount frame that I gave away to someone for cutting my yard in about 2002. At some time around 1999, I just couldn't ride the things any more, due to significant discomfort, and finally threw in the towel. In 2001, I bought a Lightning recumbent and never looked back. Not that I could, due to the seating position, but still.

About 3 years ago, I picked up a Trek 7300 Hybrid to use around LA (stolen from the garage) then an identical replacement not much later. It saw dual duty as a kid hauler/commuter in workmanlike fashion. A few years of riding it around town made me wonder if I should reconsider whether I could be comfortable on an upright bicycle again.

After loads of internet research, and countless hours in bike shops, I decided that given the proper fit, I could probably make it work. My first step was to narrow the choices of LBS's down to those that focused on fit first. My early candidate list was Aaron's Bicycle Repair, R + E Cycles, and Montlake. Montlake turned out to only pay lip service to fitting, i.e. "yeah, you could do that if you want", and Aaron's was just too far/odd for me to deal with. R + E has some great stuff and nice folks, but the entry level price point was just too high for me. I wasn't sure this would work out (still not), and I wanted something not TOO expensive that would hold its resale value.

A stroke of (bad) luck led me to Counterbalance Cycles on the Burke Gilman. One day while out on the recumbent, I flatted out and stopped for air and a tube, and casual discussion with a mechanic lead to an off hand comment about their "fit guy". One thing led to another, and I started spending a bit of time there. Eventually I spent several afternoons trying various things out, but finally focussing on a Surly Long Haul Trucker and a Salsa Casseroll.

So yesterday, I picked up a Casseroll. Why add to my existing fleet? Well, I wanted something lighter, faster feeling, and better fit to me than my hybrid, while having better situational awareness than my recumbent. Also, my recumbent has a high crank position that can make urban cycling awkward.

I'm pretty excited about this bike, and I can't believe it is snowing outside (but birds are chirping!) after 2 weeks of pretty good weather. Hopefully things will clear up a bit later so I can really get out there and try it out.


Duncan Watson said...

Congratulations on the new bike. I just took a look at Salsa's website, the Casseroll is a nice bike indeed. One of these days we will have to run into one another, as it is I now have to check out Counterbalance Cycles, sounds like a good shop.

Russell said...

They seem like pretty good guys. They were even working on a Bacchetta the other day when I was in there.

I'm considering trying a SIR ride at some point, so I may see you there. Or perhaps a just a ride one of these days?

Duncan Watson said...

Sounds great, I am trying to get my fitness up before doing any more SIR winter training rides. I had a nice long talk with the sweeps the last ride I did. I was a wee bit slow on the trike.

I would love to meet up and ride, less pressure than a larger group ride. I need to shed some Christmas weight.