Bicycles are a lot of fun. And I have been able to triple my pleasure with three very practical rides: My Felt F60 road bike, Haro mountain bike converted to a city commuter, and now the Gary Fisher Cobia I picked up used about a week ago.
There are better and more decorated rides to be had, but for master competitor's place in life, I have a nice stable of equipment. Please humor me as a give you a bit of "bike talk" on this Saturday afternoon.
Felt: Just came in from a nice 58-miler. After five years the Felt still feels light, tight and resilient. I paid $1500 for this ride in 2005 and it came with Shimano Ultegra derailleurs front and rear and "Flight Deck" shifters in the brake hoods. I bought a triple (three chainrings at the crank pedals) and could have opted for a double...wish I had bought the double, but sure have dropped it into the granny gear (lowest chain ring) during some big climbs like Hogpen at Six Gap. Downside of this ride is that Felt scrimped on hubs and wheels; I have had several failures. But to upgrade to a new bike with Ultegra components I'd be in the $3000 range and that's too much for me...for now.
The Haro is like an old friend, like a well worn baseball glove. It started out as a capable off road machine ten years ago. The movers busted the suspension fork when I transitioned to Florida, so I had a rigid front end mounted. Switched out the knobbies for Ritchey 1" tires and at 100 psi they make the bike a quick ride. I commute to school most every day of the week. The Mountain Co-Op Equipment panniers snap on and off and allow me to carry what ever it takes. Commuter bikes should be a bit nasty, where dirt and grit stay on the chain and you simply ride. This is the bike that was stolen and retrieved. It's back, it's mine and I love it.
Haven't had much time on the Fisher just yet. The 29er wheels and 19 inch frame make for a big ride, not as agile as the normal 26 inch wheels. And I hope I made the right decision with the hardtail. 29er wheels roll well over obstacles, but it doesn't compensate for the pounding my back takes over the rough descents. We'll see how it plays out on the Boone riding trails. It's also a big cool factor to run disc brakes versus the old style on-the-rim models. My bike features the lower grade mechanical discs, the big boys run full hydraulic brake sets.
The bottom line comes at the crank...if you can spin it and grind when necessary, you're gold. It's the engine that drives the results. I'm' going to try and keep my motor runnin' for years to come.