Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Am I Serious?

I like to think of myself as pretty seriously into bikes and riding.  I love to ride, though I don't get out as much as I'd like to.  And I work on my own bikes like few others I know do.  I build bikes for my kids, and experiment with my own setups and gear.  Then there's this blog...  Pretty serious, all told.

Even so, I've had a bit of an internal struggle with the build of the Colnago -- particularly with the pedals.

As I walked Jake tonight, there was just a hint of ache in my left knee.  An ache that started probably 15 years ago, now, on a benefit ride.  In truth, it was my own fault -- I'd just been dumb.  Rather than having cleats installed professionally, I swapped a new set onto my shoes a few days before that ride, and weakened the cartilege in my left knee, riding while twisting my foot against spring tension over the 200 mile weekend.  I ended up with a tear in the meniscus that was snipped away by an orthopedic surgeon within a year, but my knee has never been really pain-free since.

I've figured out that I need a narrow Q-factor to avoid the pain.  And I removed all of the Look pedals from my fleet to ensure that I can always move my feet to a position that feels right on the knees.  I still have a pair of Looks, though -- the first set I ever bought.  And I've been tempted to install them on the Colnago, buy a new set of shoes, and use those this winter and next season.  Or get a set of Speedplays and a new set of shoes.  This, in lieu of the toe clips and straps I've used happily on the Motobecane the past year or so.

Why though?  On the PMC this year, I suffered no nerve damage in my toes from undue pressure on my feet, riding in running shoes and toe clips.  The toe clips offered great support under the balls of my feet, and voila!  No turned-off toes at the finish.  Every other benefit ride I've done has left me with middle toes numb for literally months.  And I doubt I was materially slower on the ride for my choice of pedals.

The thing is, though, there's a part of me -- maybe a part of every enthusiast, and maybe not so small -- that wants to be seen (by myself and by others) as serious about my sport.  Serious enough to understand the pros and cons of different pieces of equipment, and spring for the things that will help me be a stronger rider.  And that same part of me, or one really close by, doesn't want to be seen as a bumpkin, riding some quaint old thing.  To some extent, that's the reason I have the Colnago in the first place -- the Motobecane is very much a quaint old thing, no matter how much I love it or how well it performed on the PMC.  It's vanity, I know.  The same thing that's kept me away from hearing aids for the past decade or so.

As I look at the Colnago, with its downtube shifters and track pedals, I really can't help but contemplate an upgrade to Shimano brifters and a pair of Speedplays.  I'm holding off for now.  I ordered a set of MKS clips and Velo-Orange straps tonight, in fact.  But the vain/serious cyclist in me keeps surfing bike porn on the Web, looking for a deal.  Looking for serious.

All for now,


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