The search begins here. I tested the first road bike this week. Last weekend I visited a bunch of bike shops around town including J&A, Bicycle Sport Shop and Austin Tri Bike (or something) with Coach A. So I knew what I was going to get within my budget. Earlier I also stopped by at Mellow Johnny’s (Lance Armstrong’s store) and saw that they had a beginner Trek for about $729. What little I understand and quite intuitively, the better the components, the more expensive the bike. So aluminum frame and component bundles with various numbers creating various gears/speeds are what differentiate bikes. Whenever I asked the question, given how much I ride. what’s good for me, everyone looked at me askance and said, ‘it depends’. So without any better idea than when I started I decided to trust the store rather than the brand (according to marketing research I’m not alone).
So I went to J&A and tested out this bike (I think). They fit the bike to my size and I brought it home. On Tuesday morning I went for a test ride with my tri-buddy Sangy. Sangy’s done a few triathlons and is just getting back into the season. So we met over at Anderson & Shoal Creek to do a simple, flat 6 mile ride (2 3-mile loops). What Sangy said to me was interesting and got me thinking. She said, it’s not the bike, it’s you. If you’re a good rider, the bike, while being important, will not add the boost you’re looking for i.e. ease of going uphill or biking faster. Those you get by riding more, speed workouts and spinning. So before I started the ride, I was already thinking.
Contessa below did not disappoint at all. She was smooth though not as light as I was expecting. I was comfortable on her. Midway we ran into Tenille, one of Austin’s pro-triathletes who came to give us a pep talk during Ironchicks. She was doing her morning run. She’s really sweet. Fixed my helmet even and mentioned she was doing a ‘few’ 70.3’s this season. We wished her luck and rode on.
I thought about it a lot – while Contessa was the cheapest it was not cheap (to me) at $850 and that’s without the pedals/taxes etc. First of all, like a car or a spouse, you expect to feel the spark immediately. Let’s say I thought Contessa had a ‘great personality'(what my friend Dinesh used to say when he didn’t think a woman looked great). But the (tri)-oomph factor that I was expecting to feel as I straddled her, was missing. I spoke about it to my good biker friends Grao and Sandeep. They agreed that I should (1) keep looking (2) wait it out a bit. Meanwhile for the Couples Triathlon I will probably rent a road bike or borrow someone’s bike because I’m less inclined to deal with Scarlett’s chain issues on Decker’s hills.
With a somewhat mixed feeling I took Contessa back to J&A today. The store sales guy, Drew understood when I told him I didn’t feel the connection. I also told him that I’d be traveling some this year so not riding as much after August. He recommended I come back. I think I might go try the Felt at some point that’s the same price as the Scott Contessa. It may feel the same, better or change my mind on Contessa. We shall see. Until then, my lonely legs keep looking :).