Perfect weather for a bike ride . . .

June 28, 2007

Working Title

Whooooo! What a month June has been -- started with a bang with the finish of my first 600K, which is a high I'm still riding. RAAM has come and gone, and Robic once again smashed the field and brought home another win -- his third. Next year, he might well become the only four-time winner. PBP is less than 50 days away. The MS-150 is less than 80 days away. The Tejas 500 is barely 93 days away. I've run almost a dozen or so 5K's now - personal, not t-shirt runs - and the strength is coming along AND it seems to be benefiting my climbing on the bike, which was unexpected. I'm keeping things on that level until after Tejas, however, when the real marathon training will begin in earnest. For now, everytihng is feeling pretty solid.

Things are getting busier, however, as I've started up a 2nd job again, working at my LBS in the evenings a few days a week. This is a great way to support my habit, give a little "dude" flavor to every bike I touch, and supplement the income a bit. Yeah, it's time away from life - but I have to do what I have to do, ya know. It will make the training schedule tougher - but I have to adapt, and I can. It seems silly, but that thing about the 600K being a little life-changing might be a stretch, but the attitude-changing aspect of it is very real. Everything seems possible, and challenges are easier to manage. I breathe deeper, and think about things slower and with more patience. I figure once a year I can recharge that feeling, and probably be a better person for it. Next year, the goals list will be considerably shorter, but it will defintely include the brevet series. If nothing else, for 2008 the medals will be a new design, so I have to collect the whole set!

The bike stable is changing, too. After completing the 600K, the headset on the Kogswell was essentially trashed, as I expected, so before vacation I brought it into the LBS for a headset swap - one of the few things I am not equipped for in the home shop. Well, at least not equipped for a Chris King swap, which requires special methods and adapters. Long story short (that's a shock for THIS blog!) the Kogswell is no longer in service, due to issues that came up with the stock fork. I was afraid it would happen, but it's only the last straw in a long list of short-comings with that fork. Adding to the issue, getting a replacement fork from an off-the-shelf vendor is impossible, because of the special dimensions and rake that make the Kogswell frameset what it is. The 1" threaded technology is gone, only a handful of companies still make quality headsets for them, and fewer make forks. I could go threadless, but that kinda kills the whole retro vibe of the frame - it looks weird, and still there are not many threadless 1" forks that would work with the frame. Further, even if I found the right fork - or (gasp - $$$$) had one built - I'm looking at painting it, too. Instead of losing a bunch of sleep, and figuring out how to budget the funds to replace it properly, I've decided to cut my losses and use this as an opportunity. Much deliberation and list-making, the Cannondale - which only a month ago was on the "endangered" list, close to going up for sale due to lack of use - is going to take up the main bike role. It will handle brevets just fine with some modifications, and I've had it up beyond the double-century mark with no issues in the comfort territory, it's strong enough, lighter, and everything on it is essentially new. Conversely, the Kogswell is PERFECT, but the headset is jsut the first in a long line of parts that are reaching the ends of their service lives. It's either sell the Cannondale and replace everything on the Kogswell with those funds, or take advantage of the good deal I got on the Cannondale and just RIDE IT. The Kogswell has a much better chance of finding the right buyer out there, whether on the BOB list or somewhere else. I wouldn't get my money back out of the Cannondale - no way. But, wider tires - which it will accept - bar-end shifters from the Kogswell, the new brake levers, ditch the STI levers, add the frame pump - which fits fine - and transfer over the lighting system for brevets, and the Cannondale will fit the bill nicely. It's lighter and more efficient. Justifications aside, I know it sounds really weird for the Dude, the long-time lugged steel holdout, to suddenly change gears and give such props to an aluminum bike. Yeah, I know --- it was bad enough that I BOUGHT the darn thing, but at the time it made sense, and stepping back now and looking at my options it STILL makes sense. Seriously, it's THAT comfortable, and I *NEVER* would have thought that if I hadn't ridden it. It continues to impress me every time I ride it, and that impression holds true all the way up to 200 miles. Blindfolded, I would simply not be able to tell you which bike I was riding, between the Kogswell and the Cannondale, based on road feel: yeah, the STI levers would give it away, but all things equal I can't tell a difference in ride quality. That's with 28c tires on the Kogswell and 23c tires on the Cannondale, too. It's simply a well-engineered bike, and I have to at some point stop apologizing for it. It's just a different metal, a different way of doing things - for better or worse. It's time to ride it, enjoy it, and justify the initial purchase. Is it the LAST frameset I'll own? No way. When it's time comes, I'm quite certain a Thorn, Richard Sachs, Rivendell, Heron, Mariposa, Waterford or Serotta will take it's place. I will save my pennies and dimes towards that end, because there is no sense in me putting money towards a new custom fork and paint job on a frame that I didn't pay that much for to begin with. Not that there is ANYTHING WRONG WITH THEM, but my phase of "price-point" bikes filling the role of primary bike are done. The Surly Steamroller is PERFECT as a backup bike and a commuter, but I don't see myself riding a Surly Pacer or LHT as a primary bike. Again, nothing wrong with those that DO, but if I'm gonna get another steel bike it will be time to make an investment and do it RIGHT, probably $2000 or higher for frame and fork - it will take about five years to get there, but it will be worth it. VERY high quality, with the features I want, not the features I will talk myself into living with.

So, the stable loses a steed, and the sun has set on the Kogswell. It's a great frame -- the fork is okay. And as I type this, it's clean, ready for sale, and the fork has been re-installed correctly and is probably good for the next 4 years to the right buyer that is looking for a lugged steel back-up bike, or commuter.
(if this happens to be YOU, email me - headset, bottom bracket and seatpost are included.)

The Steamroller has already seen the benefits by getting a few new parts, and the Cannondale is getting refitted with new levers and bar-end shifters tonite in the garage. Like I told Ort when going thru this battle-plan in my head, it's a move that makes so much sense, I can't believe I didn't do it earlier. I get new parts for both bikes, the Cannondale moves from racer with STI levers to a platform that makes more sense for the riding that I REALLY do, I gain a set of spare wheels, and I'll probably make a little cash from the Kogswell so I can budget entry fees and new tires for the 2008 season. Not bad!

The next big thing - the Cidermill Ride is coming up, the C'Dude edition.
See www.commuterdude.com/teamcdude.htm for details!

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