Back In The Saddle

A couple months ago I shared the results of my first foray into cycling.  I was wobbly, I crashed, I had deficiencies confirmed.  Given that, maybe this latest turn of events is the natural result of working in a bicycle shop and I’m just buckling under the pressure to fit in and boost my credibility.  Be that as it may, I declare in front of everyone that I, Jay, being of sound mind and judgement, have bought two bikes, a bunch of gear, and a few other toys – I mean tools –  as well.  I must point out, however, that I refrained from purchasing anything cycling related (except for magazines and books) for almost a whole year before taking the plunge.  Somewhere along the line, truth be told, it was no longer a matter of if but when I would get a real road bike.  Similarly, having decided to get a bike, I did not set out to try cycling, I set out to do it.

Some friends have been requesting/demanding I put pictures up of my road bike.  To appease them, and my sense of pride in building this bike up entirely on my own, here are some pictures.  I apologize for the unsightly hyphens beside each picture, a truly amateurish approach to formatting, I admit, but I spent hours, literally, trying to figure out how to do it properly, to no avail.  For those not interested in cycling, please allow me a few minutes to geek out over bicycle specs.

This is my LOOK 566, a full carbon frame built for longer rides more than actual racing. As you see it, it weighs in at 16lbs 10oz.

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II’m running a full SRAM FORCE gruppo with double tap shifters. Not being used to any system in particular, I chose to go with SRAM instead of Shimano or Campagnolo entirely because of SRAM’s World Bicycle Relief program.   Even so, I love the double-tap setup, and not just because the levers match the bike.

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The saddle I’m riding is the fi’zi:k Versus Arione on a fi’zi:k Cyrano carbon seatpost.  Some people won’t believe me when I say it’s super comfortable, but it is.  It’s a pretty awesome setup, and not just because it matches the bike.

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The bar stem and handlebars are part of the WCS Series from Ritchey, both in “Wet White” finish, which I really like, and not just because it matches the bike.

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These LOOK Keo 2 Max pedals are miles better than the demo pedals I used initially.  They look good, feel good and they match my bike.

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The rear derailleur is not SRAM FORCE like the rest of the drivetrain, it’s SRAM RED.  At this point, some of my cycling friends may be thinking, “That rookie, he probably doesn’t even know how nice these parts are!”  I’ll freely admit that I don’t fully appreciate the performance of these components, but I got an incredible deal on everything – so incredible it would have been irresponsible not to jump at it.

So if you see me on the road and you hear a rattling sound, it could be I haven’t shifted gears properly, but it’s more likely my weakness for new shiny things clanging against my judgment, throwing my priorities out of line.

Some of the enjoyment I get is due to this awesome machine, but cycling has provided me with other things as well.  It is a fun way to exercise, it’s something I can do on my own,  and it’s a great hobby to put my time and energy (and money) into.  The most valuable thing cycling provides for me, however, is the challenge.

Every time I get on my bike is another challenge to fight back and reclaim some of the ground lost to anxiety, fear, and inaccurate labels I place on myself.  It’s the repeated challenge to re-write the battle lines.  It’s the challenge to set out with no destination, no real plan, and no guaranteed outcomes.  Putting on my shorts, jersey, helmet, shoes, and sunglasses is, for me, like gearing up for the challenge to do battle.  I still get a little nervous at the challenge to try cycling amidst the rush of traffic.  My poor balance is a challenge too.  I wobble every time I shoulder-check for traffic, and wobble even more when I signal a turn.  I’m slightly on edge at every intersection, at the challenge to correctly decide whether to unclip from the pedals or not, and the equal challenge of figuring out where I am.  Cycling, for me, presents the challenge to truly see what I’m made of.

This seems like a lot of work for very little reward, but that’s all a matter of perspective.  The next stage of my life presents a challenge, sure, but it also provides an opportunity, one that offers rewards of such value that the temporary difficulties are ultimately negligible.  That’s the difference between defining something as a challenge or an opportunity – the former comes from a place of defeat and assumed hardship, the latter from victory and assumed success.  Re-read the two paragraphs previous to this one, this time replacing the word “challenge” with the word “opportunity”

that’s how I see it, and that’s why I go cycling.

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About jaybrandsma

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3 Responses to Back In The Saddle

  1. Naomi Unrau says:

    As no one my age ever says, “Sweet!”

  2. braintard says:

    second the ‘sweet’. haven’t biked in a few years, sold my good bike last year to eat. still have my wobbly rear ccm. the old ccm is relic but i sure logged the miles on her. anyways very SWEET bike. do you do long distance stamina rides

    • jaybrandsma says:

      Hey man, I think everyone has had an old CCM at some point, HA! I can go out on my bike for a two-and-a-half hours or so at the most for now. My neck issues start to flare up after that. The furthest I’ve gone on my own is 55km in about two hours. It’s super fun either way.

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