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Monday, July 12, 2004

It's All About the Bike 

This weekend, I rode a team-issue Cannondale Six13, duly provided to me by the factory, and wearing my team uniform proudly displaying my Cannondale sponsorship. It's about time my recent achievements were recognized.

The bike is sweet. This machine has a listed weight a little shy of 15 pounds (by comparison, my quite nice Pinarello comes in around 22 pounds in racing trim). That is a difference you can feel.

Campagnolo Record 10? With the Ti and Carbon Fibre bits? Oh yes. It's a sensuous delight to shift. I had no trouble acclimating despite my long experience with Shimano shifters.

Alas, I deceive without lying: the bike, straight from the factory, was part of the Cannondale demo fleet, stopping by Bicycle Sports Pacific for some show-and-ride.

That said, they were tremendously generous. I expected some sort of parade-led cruise for 20 minutes, like a typical motorcycle demo ride. Nope. They moved my pedals onto the bike, matched my seat height, and encouraged me to take it out for 30 or 45 minutes if I liked. All that for a driver's license.

Well, BSP is downtown, so I rode over to Stanley Park. The perimeter road is a really nice ride with no stops on it, and the traffic isn't too bad.

I rode like a madman. I passed horse-drawn carriages, I passed buses, I passed two triathletes rolling up the one steep climb, I passed most of the cars. That bike was a bad influence on me, and I just tried to keep up.

I did two very rapid laps of the park. The bike was a lot of fun, but I felt obligated to keep up. I wasn't going to ride slowly on this thing! It was hilarious.

So, what's really different on a light bike? Having a bike this light is like suddenly losing 7 pounds. Sorry, that's about it. It's still really good: when I first stepped on, I was surprised by how much less momentum it had than the Pinarello which carried me to the shop. It seemed to shoot out from under me as I pushed the pedals.

The exoticism continued as I rode. The K-wing carbon fibre handlebar was neat-o, since it had an aero top profile that was comfortable to grab, and internally routed cables (a weird feature for a handlebar). The Campagnolo drivetrain and shifters worked very nicely. No complaints there. I wanted to hug this bike, it was so pretty and gorgeous and fast and I think I could win any race on that bike. I could cat up just by riding that bike. I could be the rider of my dreams!

Except, no, I couldn't. The bike may have given me wings, but I needed legs. I nearly blew a gasket chasing that bike around the park, mainly because I pushed too hard. Hey, how often was I going to get to ride the best bike in the world as hard as I wanted? (Save your letters: there are several candidates for "best road bike, cost no object." But the awful truth is all the UCI-legal ones (or in the case of the Six13, almost-legal) are very similar, and the Six13 certainly could not be left out of such a discussion.)

The real test was how the Pinarello would feel after. I got on it and it wasn't that bad. I didn't feel as if I had suddenly mounted a gas-pipe pig. It felt pretty good, and it took me home happily, and next time I go racing, it will work just fine. Can't ask for more.

But I have upgrade lust now. Maybe I can afford that used Marinoni I have a line on. Maybe my bike team's sponsor discount will be enough this year for me to buy a Cannondale R800 with the Shimano 105 group. Yeah. That could hold off the bike-lust demons for a while. Maybe. Until the Cervelo demo van comes to town....

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