|In Brownwood, TX. Janie with her Rocky Mountain and me with Raleigh (with trailer attached behind)|
In the spring of 2013 we were in Northern New York State and found ourselves in a little bike shop near my hometown. I was looking over new bikes and checking out some hybrid bikes we saw there. After a lot of shopping, riding, and research, we picked out two hybrid bikes that we thought might be just right for us. The idea was that if I got a hybrid, then Janie might be at a disadvantage on her old mountain bike even though it was a pretty high end bike when we bought it. We picked a couple of good hybird bikes that we thought would be just great. We probably had nearly a hundred miles or so on the bikes when we headed left Northern New York. On our trip south and west we might have looked like the following picture, with our car attached at the back of the rig, and our bikes on top of the car.
We got as far as Erie, PA, our first overnight stop on our way west, before tragedy struck. We used a GPS to find a Walmart to spend the night and it took us into downtown Erie. (later we learned that if we had just stayed on the highway one more exit there was another, safer, Walmart where we could have stayed) We got permission from the Walmart store folks and had some dinner in the coach and then went to sleep for the night. When we woke up in the morning I went outside to begin to prepare to get back on the road. I was shocked to see that there were no bicycles on the roof of the car. I looked again, called Janie out, and we both looked. We stared at the spot, looked away, and then looked back as if our actions would conjure the bicycles, perhaps we had a blockage that would not allow us to see our new bikes. Finally, we called the local police, and checked with the Walmart to let them know what had happened and, I suppose, to see if they had some magical way to retrieve our bikes. They didn't. I also walked around a bit, looking for signs of bike escape or to see if they had just been joyridden and then tossed aside.
Finally the police officer arrived and completed a report and gave us the information for our insurance company. He said that the bikes were probably stolen to be stripped and then the parts sold or used to upgrade other bikes. He doubted that our bikes would be retrieved. As we continued to travel west, Janie started making lists of the add on parts that the bikes had (clipless pedals, water bottle cages, lights, luggage racks, etc.) so we could give the insurance company a complete list of what we'd be replacing. We called the insurance company and were pleased to learn that the claim would be covered, less our deductible, and they'd get working on it right away. Because we're full-time RVers, our auto insurance is combined with a homeowners' type policy with a special rider for some higher end stuff we carry with us, like bicycles and musical instruments/equipment.
Temporary Bikes and the Katy Trail
Our trip to Fort Collins included a brief stop in Sedalia, Missouri for some music and some bike riding on the KATY trail. As we headed toward Sedalia we were sad to think that we wouldn't have any bikes to ride the trail with. We could rent bikes but that would be pretty expensive. We stopped briefly near Jefferson City, Missouri and I got looking at craigslist. I found two possible used replacement bikes. We decided to stop and look at these bikes. Janie's was fairly heavy, but still a decent hybrid bike although not a replacement for the one she lost. We got it for fairly cheap. I found a dream bike, a beautiful Marin road bike. I knew that a road specific bike wouldn't be a viable replacement, but the price was good and we figured we could use the bikes until we got our replacements and then sell them in Fort Collins, CO. Below you can see a photo of the lovely Marin in a park in Sedalia. By the way, we did resell the bikes. We made 50 dollars on mine and 75 on Janie's.
|My sweet but temporary Marin Road bike.|
Thanks for hanging in there, I promise I'm getting to the point of the story.
So, we got to Fort Collins, and started shopping. We kept our sights on hybrid bicycles although I was occasionally looking at mountain bikes. I should say at this point that a hybrid bicycle is one that is configured to ride like a mountain bike (flat bars and mountain bike style shifters and brakes) yet it generally has 700c wheels (like a road bike) Often the hybrid is sold as a city/recreation bike. It's often lighter weight than a mountain bike in the same price range and supposedly the larger wheels roll over obstacles easier. There was also a recent trend to create "29ers" by putting 700c wheels on a mountain bike style frame and with fatter tires than a road bike tire. I had one, a Gary Fischer Xcaliber (another new bike that I didn't care for after I got it home).
The shopping was an ordeal; I was so afraid that I would be disappointed after spending the time and money to get a new bike. After a lot of trying bikes, reading reviews, and getting the feel of several different shops, we settled on some pretty cool steel frame bikes; some Jamis bikes with carbon forks.
|Martin's Jamis Coda Comp bike|
|Janie and her Jamis Coda Sport femme bike. |
(this is her first ride after her collar bone healed from her real first ride on that bike)
So, we're often told to buy bikes from our LBS (local bike shop). Well, we don't really have an LBS because we live in many different towns across the US. In Fort Collins, CO, however, we were mainly looking at two different shops for our bikes. We really liked a couple of Treks from one shop but then looked at the Jamis'. I can't really tell you what made us decide on the Jamis bikes, but it probably had to do with a combination of the price and the fact that they had old school steel frames. I began riding on chromoly steel framed bikes and I guess I never fully converted to aluminum frames, I had also had a pretty sweet carbon fiber framed bike but those are pricey.
Once we started riding again we kept noticing how "twitchy" both of those bikes were. It seemed like just a little bit of steering input went a long way. This continued to bother Janie. This bugged me on my bike as well, but the thing that bothered me more was that the pedals seemed farther apart (from each other) than on any previous bike I had owned. I felt tired after a long commute and couldn't really put my finger (or foot) on it. After one particularly frustrating ride I started to check craigslist for used bikes.
I told Janie I was looking for a used mountain bike for myself and she understood and wondered if we might also keep an eye out for a solution for her twitchy bike. We found a couple of good ones. I found a 1998 steel frame Trek mountain bike for me and a 2008 Trek hybrid for Janie. We went to test ride and we were amazed at how they felt. Mine still had some old components on it and some fairly heavy wheels so I started upgrading. Below you can see some pics. I added some new lightweight wheels and new rear cogs and chain. I also upgraded the shifter and brake configuration as the Trek retained one of my least favorite shifter outfits. One of the other things that did, since the old Trek mountain bike had some scuffs and scratches, was to take off all of the components, tape certain areas, and then spray several coats of a clear automotive paint over the existing paint. This gave the bike a great patina, while hopefully preventing any rusting from the scuffs.
By the way, I confirmed the pedal width thing after getting the Trek. It's set up like what I'm used to, I forget the distances, but there's a little over a half inch difference in the width of my feet when I'm pedaling the two bikes, the Jamis being wider. So as I pedal the Jamis, I'm continually trying to bring my feed in on the pedal, only to be stopped by the crank arm.
|Here's my 1998 Trek 930 commuter bike.|
|Janie's great 2008 Trek 7.6FX|
Here are a few more pics.
|The Trek was missing a head-badge so I made one of my own|
|Here I have a way to tune the bikes, I just hang the bike on our travel rack|
from the top tube and I can go through the gears and make fine adjustments.
|My new used Trek outside of a cool local restaurant. Janie's Trek is in the background.|
Until next time........ Martin Bates