Thursday, September 6, 2012

Happy bicycle owner posting with a twist

Photo by Gabrijela Obert

Back in time, when I lived in Münster, I used to cycle a lot - just like everybody does over there. When I then moved to München about 12 years ago I almost completely stopped. My good old Giant Stonebreaker MTB was kind of run down after years of heavy usage and no more fun to ride, I did not know the city landscape well and ... I don't really know. 
Then sometimes in spring last year I sat in a bus to pick up a parcel at the post office. The sun was shining and I was hating to be stuck in sticky public transportation. "I should have done this by bike", I thought.
When I was back home I immediatly checked on the MTB in the basement, but it was nothing but rust and flat tires. When I touched it even a pedal
 fell off. I declared it dead and went straight to the bike shop and purchased my Marin Pioneer Trail - a cheap and robust MTB to get around town (and which will be likely replaced next year, but that's another story.)

The rest of the summer 2011 I cycled around a lot and after the last winter the first thing I did when the weather stopped being horrible was getting my bike out of the basement and on the road again.
A couple of weeks later I had a change for the better in my life: After doing two jobs for a couple of months I got an assistant reporting to me, who took over most of the operational tasks and BOOM - the end of my work day bounced back from 8 - 9 pm to something like 6.30 pm.
So what to do with all that extra time? CYCLING! I started a new routine and hit the road every evening the weather allowed it - and I loved it!

I defined a small training course close to my home.  I could not go far because 7. / 7.30 pm is not exactly
early in the day to get started, but I began to check on the time I needed and how my performance improved. I had lots of fun, but then it started:
While I was squeezing all speed I could out of my MTB I started noticing those people who outpaced me without any visible effort. People with road bikes! 

And there it was ... the idea - stuck in my head: I WANT A ROAD BIKE! 

I started researching ... bikes, frames, gear shifts, brakes, brands, prices. I slowly got an idea what I would want, but my plan was to finish this season with the MTB, do more research over the winter and get a new bike next spring. It's just ... I am never patient once I made a decision. Never. So when a little later I got into a road bike talk with a friend from Pittsburgh who told me how much he loved ridinig his new one and then on top caught an advertisement for a big discount on road bikes at the biggest bike dealer of the city I was done. 

The actual process of buying the bike was pretty scary, to be honest. I had definitely underestimated how different it feels to handle a road bike compared to any other bike I ever rode before. It also does not exactly help when you do your "first time" in a super cool bike shop with super cool semi professional riders around you testing new equipment with slightly bored faces, while you have not even an idea how to shift gears. I did not escape although I would have loved to. Instead I spent a couple of hours in the shop to get the right measures,  consider options and try bikes before I finally decided for my TREK Lexa SL 2012.

Since then I learned a lot. I can adjust road bike breaks, I know how I shift the gears (of course), I know that I need to train my arms and my back over the winter, I kind of even learned to ride with SPD-SL click pedals, although I am still struggling when I cycle in the city where I have to click in an out a million times in half an hour (Dear cycling enthusiasts, the answer to your burning question is one. I fell one time until today *knock knock knock*). That's why I am considering at the moment to switch to a Shimano hybrid SPD / platform pedal for while, but we'll see.

But the most important thing is:  I LOVE IT!
I love really every minute I am on the road and I had NO idea what a difference a road bike makes. Although I'm on the lowest beginner level I easily outpace everybody except other road bikers on my training round now. I'm riding as much and often as I can.

You can see my beautiful bike in the picture on top of this post and you can see something else you barely see on my blog and that's - ME!
I desperatly hate pictures of myself (thanks a lot to Gabrijela Obert for being patient with me and taking this really good photo) and you will find almost none on this blog and that tells you already that this exception is important:

Like mentioned a couple of times here before I lost both of my parents to cancer way too early. Although that chapter is closed I am looking back at the nightmare my family went and people I love still go through and I decided to keep fighting. And because you need to pick your fights, I chose the one against Lymphoma and Myeloma - the cancer that killed my mom. 

While we are talking so much about cycling today you might also remember my earlier cycling posting where I asked you to spend some money on the donation page of Jamie & David Conrad, who did earlier this summer a 100 miles (just to put that in perspective - since the course also includes some significant mountains, it is about 4 times of what I can do before falling off my bike from exhaustion) bike ride around Lake Tahoe benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).
The Tahoe ride brought in a very decent amount of money and the good news is: There is another one in Utah on September 22nd! You can and should go now - please - and support the same team again and with it the LLS. Donations are coming in slower this time and every $ is much appreciated. To donate you just click HERE to go to Jamie's page for the Utah 100 miles ride and follow the instructions. It is save & easy!

I am also very proud and happy to announce that this is not the only Pittsburgh related initiative supporting the LLS and their amazing work at the moment.  Some of the finest Pens fans and hockey experts my favorite city can call its own are organizing a fabulous event called "HOCKEY KICKS CANCER". It is a charity kickball tournament that is happening on October 6th. Click the link and find out how you can join the fun for the good cause.
Sadly I cannot be there because it's a week before my next Pittsburgh trip, but out-of-towners like me or anybody else who would like to support but can't go, can easily donate on the event page via Paypal. I tried it ;) and it works!

So ... let's go and F**K CANCER!

Additional innformation for fellow bike nerds:

Shirt: F**k Cancer shirts can be purchased here, but usually I wear Gonso cycling jerseys
Helmet: Giro - not in the picture, but I of course wear one when on the road
Pants: Baggy bike pants by Gonso - I use tights on the road bike and baggy ones on the MTB, but felt significantly better with not wearing tights for the photo shooting *ahem*
Gloves: Bontrager
Shoes: Scott Road Comp Lady with floating SPD-SL cleats

Trek Lexa SL 2012

Frame: 100 Series Alpha Aluminium 
Fork: Bontrager Approved, carbon legs 
Front Derailleur: Shimano Tiagra, 34.9mm clamp 
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Tiagra 
Number of Gears: 30 
Shifters: Shimano Tiagra STI, 10 speed 
Cassette: Shimano Tiagra 12-30, 10 speed 
Front Brake: Alloy dual-pivot brakes 
Rear Brake: Alloy dual-pivot brakes 
Brake Levers: Shimano Tiagra STI Shimano Tiagra STI adjustable-reach levers 
Handlebars: Bontrager Race VR-C, 31.8mm 
Stem: Bontrager SSR, 10 degree, 31.8mm 
Headset: 1-1/8" semi-cartridge bearings 
Rims: Bontrager Approved alloy rims 
Front Tyre: Bontrager R1, 700x23c 
Rear Tyre: Bontrager R1, 700x23c 
Saddle: Bontrager Affinity 1 WSD, steel rails 
Seatpost: Bontrager Race Lite Carbon, infinite tilt adjustment, 20mm offset 

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