February 20, 2006

The return of the specialist.

A little internal debate, a little light ribbing, and a little longing. That’s about all it took to get the zip-tie cutters out of the tool box, and drop the Bianchi frameset down from its place of honor over the garage workbench. After a couple hours of wrenching in the garage, the beast breathes again. And, it’s gorgeous – perhaps moreso than it was when I first tore it down.

Yes – unrest is rampant in the ‘Dude’s stable: if you don’t like what I’m riding, wait a few weeks. For now, however, part of my successful 2006 season is taken care of, with zero-excuses: a faster, lighter, stronger race-oriented bike, to tackle my race needs.

But, what about the CrossCheck, the ‘one’ that was supposed to tackle it all?? What’s yer problem, man?

The CrossCheck -- it still lives, and it now replaces the Steamroller. Let’s face facts: I love the Steamroller, but it’s going to turn into a feature-bike for weekend fixxie stuff, not so much the daily grind. It’s a stripped down warrior, and it’ll likely see a few alley-cats this year, but no more daily-duty. The PERFECT commuter that I always refer back to is my old Trek 720. It was indeed perfect – I ran it geared, I ran it single, fixed, too. It was rock-solid, and took full fenders. The CrossCheck is VERY close to that platform, with slightly shorter chainstays – and with its full fenders and fixed gear platform, it’s ready to fill the commuter gap, and get me to work clean in the sloppy rain, it’ll take massive tires for gravel road tours – there is very little this bike WON’T do – but like an old friend recently said, it doesn’t do any ONE of those things very well. Jack of all trades – master of none. But, that's perfect for commuter-duty.

The Bianchi -- well, it's master of only one thing: fast. No-excuses, tear-up-that-next-corner, fast. But, at the same time, it was cozy enough to provide the platform for the most comfortable 400K I've ridden to date, last May. Ask a bike with the same geometry in a different material to do THAT! (Ok, maybe Ti or carbon would be as comfy - but I'm biased.) But, the Bianchi can transition from ultra-distance to short-course racing with ease. So it doesn't take fenders? So WHAT?! It's meant to be ridden -- and ridden it shall be. She's ready to brevet – if it rains on brevet, well, so be it – and worst case, I can repeat my single-speed brevets on the CrossCheck – but I doubt it. I’ve gotten past the “oh-no, it’ll-get-dirty” phase with the Bianchi: but reality is that it WILL get dirty, and it will clean up just as easily. Since I LIKE to clean stuff, what does it matter? It didn’t matter at Tinbutt in 2004, when it rained for the first 3 hours!
Build it clean – get it dirty… repeat. It’s an absolute joy to ride, and I’m glad she’s back!

The Steamroller -- it's the perfect fixxie – but not the perfect commuter. The CrossCheck isn’t a perfect fixxie, but it’s a better commuter than the Steamroller – and so-on. Basically, after nearly 9 months of tearing this down, and building this up again, ad nauseum – I’ve nearly come full circle. If the CrossCheck was a darker shade of green, you might not be able to tell any difference between my current stable, and the same stable last July. Full circle, in this case, is a good thing – I experimented, and eventually put to rest my own demons on the issue. I indeed had things right the first time, and if I wasted a few hours and a little grease to find out, so be it. Things are good again.

Now, if it would PLEASE warm up outside – maybe I could get some training on the actual ROAD done!

Ugh… two hours on the indoor trainer is PLENTY!

But it’s all part of the goal-realization plan… and I’m right on track, and ready to ramp up for week seven.

This week, temps will rise a little out of the basement, and I can get to some real-world training, finally!

More as it happens!

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