Sabtu, 19 November 2011

I've got my goat

In Spanish, a triathlon bike is referred to as a "cabra", or "goat", presumably for the resemblance of the handlebars to the horns of a goat.

Today is my eldest son's 9th birthday (I am writing this in the cinema during a particularly tedious film). I should be buying him a new bike, surely, not me!

After months of investigation, trying out different frames and seeing whether I could get a good "0 kilometer" deal (ex-exhibition), I finally settled on the Giant Trinity Advanced SL frame with Ultegra, Rotor cranks, Zipp 900 disc wheel and Xentis 4 spoke TT Mark I front wheel. All this for less than half the price of the Trinity Advanced SL model featured in the catalogue, with its electronic group set. After the Ironman I did back in May, the only thing that hurt was my back - and the discomfort lasted two weeks. I am hoping that this bike will help me tolerate much better the aero position (flat backed, low, stretched out riding position). It bloody had better do because my marriage let alone my bank account won't survive another bike purchase on this scale.

Buying the bike was like walking into a bar with Scarlet Johansen on my arm; the same mixture of embarrassment and pride having everybody staring longingly in my direction. The difference, of course, was that I let them caress my newly acquired beauty and even lift her up to feel her weight. A guy came in with a retro single speed - something unusual in hilly Madrid - and when we caught each other in mutual bike admiration he suggested a swap.

In the end the bike was missing a few of the bits and pieces I had ordered because they hadn't yet arrived. Nevertheless, Rafa, who runs the Ciclos Delicias shop, leant me a fetching purple saddle and some brand new pedals so that I could at least try out the bike while we waited for the parts to turn up.

It was also weird walking through Delicias - which is a slightly run down part in the suburbs of Madrid - with a space age bike. On the train home an elderly man started talking to me about the bike, reminiscing about how he used to ride 200 km and back in a day, or how he climbed puertos that even cars struggled to go up. Looking at him he had that impish air of a cyclist, small, lean and with a sparkle in his eye. He told me that he used to ride with wheels that had wooden rims.

Needless to say, the bike is amazing. Certainly much more amazing than my ability to move it. The image of me with Scarlett Johansen is probably an appropriate one: I've traded up. Every so often I read a letter or an article in a triathlon magazine or forum, in which someone is boasting about how many people on much more expensive bikes he (it is always a "he") has overtaken in a race or even in training. I suppose it is easy for me to say but I can't help feeling sad when I read these kind of comments, that somehow the author is making excuses and limiting themselves. What I like about the Ironman distances is that it is just you against the wind and the current (unless you are in contention for winning overall, of course). Doesn't stop you from coveting other peoples' bikes, though, much like eyeing up another guy's girlfriend.

Some sports have adopted stricter rules to keep the technological advantages at bay, thus reducing the barrier to entry. Long distance triathlon is not one of those sports. I am privileged to be able to ride a true marvel of human engineering.

The soft focus wasn't intentional...

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