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It’s Not About the Bike, sort of…

March 25, 2009

img_0697Last night I took to the Tuesday nighter on a new steed, at least, new to me. The bike that would carry me to glory on this slightly balmy night would be my newly acquired 1991 Diamondback Centurion Momentum. I found this bike at a pawn shop a few weekends ago, and while it wasn’t the nice 80’s Trek or Schwinn I was looking for to setup as a new commuter/touring bike, I figured it would meet my needs until I did find one. Besides, I had probably visited 15 different pawn and thrift stores that day without any success and I was pretty demoralized as I rolled into the last pawn shop I planned on visiting that day and there were no bikes sitting out. A closer look revealed some bikes hanging up inside. I went in to check it out, and there she was, this technical marvel from 1991, a mid grade race bike at the time. Lugged steel, 14 speeds, downtube shifters, heavy wheels, and older but reliable Shimano components including biopace chainrings. The frame was a bit small for me at 53cm (I normally ride a 56cm) but after maxing out the seat and stem heights and tilting the handlebars up, I got it to fit alright. Luckily the bike came with a really long stem so that helped too. I never really intended to race this bike, but the more I rode it around town the more it dawned on that I probably could. Two things would have to change though. The night before I swapped out the handlebar for a wider more ergonomic one, and the saddle+ seatpost from my fixed gear so that 40 or so miles in the saddle would be more bearable. The bike dropped around 2 lbs with those upgrades, but was probably still around 24 lbs (compare to 16 lbs for my Trek). Weight didn’t matter this very night, because I had it firmly rooted in my head that “It’s not about the bike”. It’s really quite amazing what you can accomplish when you go into something with great confidence. I somehow missed the group ride heading out there, so I did the 9 mile cruise to the course solo. That was enough time to tell my body that something wasn’t setup right on the bike. My caveman intellect suspected that the saddle was still a little too low and too far back. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to tweek it because the A group rolled out right as I got there. The thought of easing into this vintage bike racing thing by starting with the B group had crossed my mind, but that’s not really my style when I’m healthy and looking for a good workout so I took off with those guys. Some dingbat had to attack halfway up the first climb and then I found myself drafting some other dingback who didn’t know how to stick a wheel and that was the end of the A group. I wasn’t ready to chalk up the failure to an old heavy bike though, because “It’s not about the bike”. Instead, I chose to blame the lack of sleep I had the past 5 days, and the lack of food I had consumed during the workday-plus the aforementioned saddle issue. I stopped and got the saddle dialed in correctly while the B group caught up. I was sitting comfy in the middle of the pack until the 2nd lap, when I felt like these guys on bikes 10 lbs less and $3,000 more than mine just weren’t riding to their potential up the first climb, so I showed them how to do so. I crested the hill and pulled for another ¼ mile or so before getting slightly winded, so I sat back in until the next opportunity for attack. We again reached a section that the pack just wasn’t riding to potential on so I went to the front and got that train rolling. A few riders happened to notice the “turd” (as one guy called it) that I was riding, and I’m sure felt pretty shamed. I pulled really hard that go round and then there was a series of counter attacks, so it was tough just trying to catch a wheel, but I managed. I had to forgo the third lap to get back into town and hang out with a good friend that was visiting. Those turkeys better be glad I had other priorities, or else the Diamondback would’ve had them crying like little girls. So, I think with a properly sized frame and a few component upgrades, an 80’s lugged steel bike isn’t out of the question for future races. It was more of a workout (that is the intent though, right?), but it was somehow more fun racing against all those 20 speed carbon bikes, all the while reaching down to my shifter levers to click into a new gear. Always remember the Caveman ode, that less is more.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Lovin permalink
    March 25, 2009 9:33 pm

    I think you have just understood why I ride a Gunnar… There’s something about blowing the doors off someone on a hill when they are on their $6000 Pinarello and I’m on my $900 Gunnar that is very satisfying. And if they beat me up the next hill, I have a great excuse!

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