Who says you can't buy speed?

Okay so my first post about cycling. Here is my history of cycling:

When I was young, I rode a BMX bike like every other kid but didn’t find it all that exciting. I bought a Mountain Bike years later, when they had no font shocks. I took one 17 mile ride and near killed myself. I never got on that thing again.

Then the summer of 2005 came and my car broke down for the last time. At the time, money was no object… I didn’t have any, so my elder, pastor from church suggested a bike. My elder from church was a good friend and liked to ride. This seemed like a good idea to me, so I ended up buying a bike, much to his surprise.

It was a Bianchi Brava, an entry level road bike. I couldn’t see myself in a hybrid or a Mountain Bike.. I knew I was gonna be on the road. Once I started riding the 8 mile ride to Castro Valley Bart, I began to find out how much out of shape I was. It was scary to find out that mid-level exertion would put me down on the street seeing stars and wondering if I should call 911. I found the strength to make it the 8 mile rolling hills ride to Bart station, but not much more than that.

I found a friend to commute with all winter, so the bike went untouched all that time. I had rollers, for indoor training, but I igored them. Winter was gone and so was my ride… so I had to face up and get on the bike again. To my surprise, I signed up for an MS ride of 25 miles and I faired quite well. Feeling a renewed vigor, I vowed to do the 100 mile ride in September. (2 weeks from now) and Started a very unorganized training scheme. I started passing by the Bart Station once a week and began riding the whole 20 miles to work, which meant riding the Dublin Grade, and the Castro Valley Boulevard (CVB) Hill. For most good riders, this hill is nothing, for me, I would call it Everest because it was so tough for me.

Time went on and I learned much more about recovery, overtraining, hill climbing and heart rates. I also gained a lunchtime ride with two other co-workers. Cycling was becoming very fun, not just a commute. I started to force myself to find harder hills for me to climb. Fairmont avenue in San Leandro, was my first. The first time, it took me four stops to regain strength and composure to keep riding to the top. The second time I stopped only once. That is where I stand at this point. Only time will tell if the training has been enough.

So what about this Can’t buy speed thing.
The saying goes, that you can’t buy speed. One cannot go to their local bike store, plunk down 4-6 grand and come out with a bike that will take them to the Tour de France. Bikes are not what makes you fast. Pain, training, and good recovery are what makes you fast. Well, I don’t totally believe that anymore. (actually I do, but read on..  ) My Bianchi was a pretty good bike. 30 pounds of steel frame and triple chainrings. (yes, a granny gear because I was outta shape) Roadies will never let you down if they see you on a triple chainring bike, something about the granny gear being for wussies.

I always lusted after a nice expensive bike, but I knew that was not right. It just didn’t feel right to be salivating over a bike.  After lusting but thankfully, not buying an expensive bike, I had a friend that turned me to his brother’s wonderful alumnimum bike with upgraded components. 16 pounds and only two chainrings to avoid the heckling from roadies. After much thought, prayer and rationalizing, I bought the bike for under a grand. This bike was in no way, a need. Rather it was for fun and so I purchased it, keeping that in mind. After riding this bike, I no longer lusted after any other bike.

I found that I DID in fact buy speed. Lots of it. I jetted up the hills with just as much sweat and work, but without the granny gear, I got there much faster. The lighter bike afforded me to be able to ride the hills better. With a stiff frame, more of my efforts are translated to power going forward, instead of power getting absorbed by the bike. I get tingles just thinking about taking this new bike out. Not because it is the new, fangled thing.. hardly that, because it isn’t. This is a Fuji Robaix with upgrade components (ultegra) — not the most respected bike out there. This will not get me respect in the peleton, but hopefully my perfomance on it, will.

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