Sunday, June 14, 2009

What makes a road bike a road bike?

Our loyal reader will recall the Special Tour de France, an orange bicycle bequeathed to me by Chillwill upon his departure from Hartford to warmer climes. When I took possession of the rig, it was a single-speed with no handlebars, no saddle or seatpost, and only a front brake. Thereafter, I made it into a serviceable three-speed with a coaster brake, excellent for banging around on and off the road. Well now, moved as much by the need for tinkering as the need for speed, I have made it into a five-speed with 700 cc wheels:

Five glorious speeds!

Now, considering that it used to be a three-speed, and that my other two bikes are both folders with eleven speeds between them, you might think that a five-speed bike with skinny tires and wheels the same diameter as those used by Tour de France champions would pretty much seem like a super-speedy road machine to me. You would be right. In fact, I was so enthused about the long-distance, high-speed, roadie potential of the STDF (hey, what a great set of initials, no? it's like a combination of Sexually Transmitted Disease and Shut The Fuck Up) that I went so far as to add that most essential of road-riding accessories:

Water bottle cage!
(Yes, it's an actual water bottle cage. No, it is not held on by electrical tape. The frame has no braze-ons, so I secured the cage with three hose clamps, but that left sharp pieces sticking out, so I covered it in tape for safety.)

Thus equipped, I took the next logical step and went on a fifty-mile ride with my friend Rami. This was great fun, but I learned something: Five speeds and a water bottle cage is no match for, like, a real road bike (especially when you are wearing sneakers and your real-road-bike-riding companion has clip-in shoes and pedals).

Beauty and the beast
That's Rami's bike in the back. It is made of some sort of space-age polymer and has many speeds well-suited for going up steep hills, of which there are many in East Hampton, Portland, and Haddam, where we rode.

In the end, Rami was gracious in staying with me while I plodded up the hills, and we had a great ride on a beautiful day (Sunday). Afterward, my legs hurt a lot, especially when, late that evening, I rode the Xootr to Bradley to pick up a rental car. On the plus side, I saw neat sights, two of which are pictured below, and which you should click on to see the larger versions.

Pocotopaug Lake, East Hampton, Conn.
Pocotopaug Lake, where we stopped for a little rest.

Top Dog, East Hampton, Conn.
The Checker cab with the Top Dog trailer hitched up to it was in a driveway in East Hampton. If you click to see the larger version, you will notice that the people in the back seat of the taxi are actually (creepily) mannequins.


Brendan said...

Is Baskin Robbins combining with du dos?

El Presidente de China said...

They often share space, which makes sense, health-wise.

Brendan said...

True, but coffee and ice cream will crack your teeth.

El Presidente de China said...

Nah, you have it backwards. My teeth crack coffee and ice cream. All that stuff about the depredations that sugary desserts and coffee wreak on teeth is just a self-serving lie propagated by Big Dentistry.

Brendan said...

No, no.

It's a hot/cold thing.

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