Is it time yet to buy a road bike?

I’ve been wondering if it’s time yet to commit to a bike of my own (a road one of course) and the clips. So I went out on a couple of group training rides in town (free ones of course). One was the Mamma Jamma ride and today went out to Steiner Ranch for the Jack & Adams shop ride that they have in the north once a month. After the MJ ride I thought I felt comfortable to handle a group ride again. I was late of course, and one of the last to start (and last to finish). The ride was not necessarily beginner friendly. I mean it was well supported with sweeps (riders who stay behind to pick up stragglers like me) and group leaders but it was bloody hard. Rolling hills, with each incline beating the other and steady gradual inclines – that’s what the ride was like. It is by far the hardest ride I have ever done, beating Decker especially since it’s also the longest at 22 miles that I’ve ever done. Even did the ‘walk of shame’ as one of the sweep riders put it as I panted and walked up the last bit of a hill to which I turned around and told him, “Screw you!”. He began laughing and said, ‘yeah that’s the spirit’ or something. Anyway, because he was the sweep he was stuck with me or I was stuck with him rather. And he didn’t let me forget I was the last one. Kept pushing me to pedal harder, faster. “Now pedal your ass away”, he said, “because you’re LAST”! In the beginning, I was miffed. I wondered how dare he say that. Then I thought. You know, this is not Ironchicks or Danskin. If I want to keep riding with these groups I either have to pick up speed or sometimes tolerate these taunts. On the ride back to Steiner, we had a head wind of some 11-15 mi per hour (felt like 50 if you ask me). I felt like I was on a spin bike. I pedaled as hard as I could but wasn’t moving very fast. Meanwhile the road bikes overtook me one by one. Either they are super fit, or their bikes are super fast or both. I don’t know what it was, but I just couldn’t keep up. One of the bike leaders said “Can’t you go faster? Keep up! It’s easier to keep up than to catch up!”. Thanks wise guy. No I like to play catchup, it’s a personal preference. Soon George the mean sweep caught up with me. And he didn’t let me relax a bit. First he began confusing me about the gears. I still don’t know what he was saying. And then he kept pushing me to pedal harder, faster, move here to the right, move there to the left, stand up and bike (which I did by the way!). He was like a hard coach. No mollycoddling and oddly enough, I began to appreciate him. I was DEAD tired. My legs felt like jello. But somehow, as I biked up the last hill to the Steiner Steakhouse, I called out to him and said thank you.

So all this propelled me to really consider a new bike. I tried a road bike the first time when we went to CA 2 weeks ago and biked in Palm Desert with friends. The ride was hot and the bike didn’t fit me well  but it felt so light and easy and fast, it was amazing that it made such a big difference. The gears clicked easy, the weight was so little. The hybrid, good as it has been to me during my beginner days, just isn’t good on the hills. I signed up to do the Couples Triathlon in 2 weeks with Debbie a friend of Lorrie’s (my running coach from Rogue). I do not look forward to the proposition of biking Decker Lake road on that hybrid again. So went with Coach A and his lovely wife, Radz, who’s also considering a new bike to J&A, Austin Tri Store and Bicycle Sports Shops. Got a sticker shock at seeing the ‘beginner’ road bike prices. I was thinking maybe $700 would be a good budget but looks like it might stretch a hundred bucks more.  Checked out beginner bikes by Felt, Trek and Scott. I didn’t have the time to try any but got measurements taken at J&A. Next step is to actually go and get fitted, try out a few bikes. I thought of buying second hand but I’m always uncertain about buying from craigslist. Let’s see. Taking husband along next time but he’s going to be more sticky about the sticker shock. Bleh! Sitting on the couch cost a lot less!

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4 responses to “Is it time yet to buy a road bike?

  1. Sirsha- you will be AMAZED by how much easier it is to ride a road bike on these rides versus a mountain bike or hybrid! Yes, you also need to get stronger but the bike makes a huge difference. Jack & Adams is my favorite place for road bikes- friendly, helpful and they’ll let you take it out to the veloway so you can get a real good feel for it. See you out there!

  2. With regards to the mean sweeper, I am sure his intentions were good w.r.t. pushing ya but one cannot out rule the possibility that he was viewing you as the thing that was getting in the way between him and a cold cerveza and a hot sizzling steak. Jack needs to coach his Sweepers with some proper etiquette’s of how to deal with the back-of-the-pack riders. You should write to him about yr experience 🙂

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